Select one of the keywords
The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation    by Elizabeth Berg order for
Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted
by Elizabeth Berg
Order:  USA  Can
Random House, 2011 (2008)
Softcover, CD, e-Book

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Elizabeth Berg's The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation is a collection of fourteen short stories, celebrating women's small (and often transitory) rebellions against conventional expectations of them in daily life. Though these are indeed small acts of liberation, they add up to much more.

In the first (to which so many of us can relate), a woman ditches her Weight Watchers rules and eats her way through the day to her heart's (and stomach's) content - this one will have fellow sufferers standing up and cheering for a woman 'carrying the banner for all of you who cut off a little piece wanting a big one, who spend a good third of your waking hours feeling bad about your desires, who infect those with whom you work and live with your judgments and pronouncements, you on the program who tally points all day long, every day'.

Contrasting with this story is another amusing one later in the collection entitled The Day I Ate Nothing I Even Remotely Wanted, in which the narrator does follow Weight Watchers rules. Of eating broccoli well flavored with lemon, she comments 'Basically my vegetable was green lemonade.' In another paired set (How to Make an Apple Pie and P.S.) an elderly lady shares recipes and life wisdom with a younger woman in a delightfully meandering missive. Flo sagely advises Ruthie to 'never sacrifice joy for fear if you can possibly help it, and you can probably help it more often than you think.'

Remaining tales address: an older woman who runs a dating service for over-fifties reconnecting with 'the first boy she'd ever loved' (Returns and Exchanges); what women only groups talk about (The Party); a seventy-five year old woman 'caught in a sinking kind of despair' over family holidays (Over the Hill and into the Woods); a sweet, overweight girl who suddenly realizes how others perceive her (Full Count); dealing with, and learning from, a friend's terminal illness and death (Rain); a very touching elder friendship (Mrs. Ethel Menafee and Mrs. Birdie Stoltz); man and wife handling weight loss (Double Diet); male versus female responses to a beloved dog's death (The Only One of Millions Just Like Him); late fifties friends playing Truth or Dare; and rebellion against retirement community life taking a widow to Sin City.

Though I'm not a big fan of short stories, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. In an interview at the back, the author comments: 'I'll be content if my children and grandchildren are healthy and living in a new and improved world fueled less by greed than by compassion.' I found this apt, since her own writing is fueled by compassion and the sagacity earned by living long and well. I highly recommend The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted to women of all ages, and to the men who care to understand them.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more Contemporary books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews