Author: Elizabeth Berg
Publication Date: April 5, 2011
Even on their wedding day, John and Irene sensed that they were about to make a mistake. Years later, divorced, dating other people, and living in different parts of the country, they seem to have nothing in common—nothing except the most important person in each of their lives: Sadie, their spirited eighteen-year-old daughter. Feeling smothered by Irene and distanced from John, Sadie is growing more and more attached to her new boyfriend, Ron.
When tragedy strikes, Irene and John come together to support the daughter they love so dearly. What takes longer is to remember how they really feel about each other.
Elizabeth Berg has once again created characters who embody the many shades of the human spirit. Reading Berg’s fiction allows us to reflect on our deepest emotions, and her gifts as a writer make Once Upon a Time, There Was You a wonderful novel about the power of love, the unshakable bonds of family, and the beauty of second chances.
John and Irene have been divorced for over ten years and share an eighteen year old daughter, Sadie. Sadie lives with Irene in California but visits John several times throughout the years in Minnesota. She has a close bond with her father than with her mother, who is very clingy and emotional.
When Sadie lies to her parents about her plans for the weekend so she can spend it with her secret boyfriend, Ron, something terrible happens and she is unable to call home. This prompts Irene to go to the police and John travels to California to help her look for Sadie. When Sadie returns home a few days later, suffering from the incident and with shocking news, John and Irene are forced to examine their own lives and marriage and work together to help Sadie through this hard time.
Elizabeth Berg is one of my favorite authors. The first book I ever read by her was Open House, which I really enjoyed, and from there I picked up quite a few more of her books. Talk Before Sleep and What We Keep are definitely my favorites and if you love a good, heart-wrenching story, I suggest you read them very soon.
I had high hopes for Once Upon a Time, There Was You. I liked it, but not nearly as much as I thought I would. I loved John, and thought he was a great person with a huge heart and a wonderful father. I can't say the same for Irene though. She was pushy, clingy, and honestly, a little crazy. I can understand being a single parent of a teenager and worrying about them, but jeez lady give your child some space! Sadie is eighteen years old and when she doesn't call home for one day Irene calls the police. I just wanted to jump into this book and tell her to calm down and let Sadie have a life.
Sadie, on the other hand, was an alright character. She didn't stick up for herself with her mother nearly enough and just went along with Irene's demands. I would have liked to have seen her stand her ground a little more, but eventually she was able to have her say.
I also felt like not really a lot happened in this book. Yes, there was a little drama with Sadie's issue and all, but it happened pretty quickly and ended just as fast. I thought a lot more could have been done with this story line. I definitely felt like there was something missing.
I wouldn't say this was a bad book, but it certainly wasn't her best. I was hoping for more drama with the "tragedy" but instead it was more focused on John and Irene's marriage and what went wrong between the two of them. We also read quite a bit of their personal feelings about life and how much more they could have put into their marriage.
Overall, it was a decent book. But if you are going to read this author's work for the first time, please start with What We Keep or Talk Before Sleep.