Tuesday, June 24, 2014

We Are All Welcome Here

Finished We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg. Set in 1950s Mississippi, this is a poignant coming of age novel. Diana lives with her mother Paige who contracted Polio while she was pregnant and can now only move her head. Paige's father left them after she was born (scumbag). Paige spent the first part of her daughter's life in an iron lung. She was fiercely determined to be free of it and just as fiercely determined to raise her daughter, despite the urging of well meaning people for Paige to put Diana up for adoption.

Paige is raising her daughter, but not without help. Peacie comes every day to wash, dress and move Paige to her wheelchair. She does the cooking and housework, the shopping and a good bit of parenting as well. Piecie's boyfriend, LaRue, helps out a lot as well. Piecie is hard as nails, and Diana has many disagreements with her, but to Diana, LaRue is a prince. He's friendly, kind and dapper.

The mother and daughter have help from others in town who keep them on their radar and lend a hand. Money is tight though. Paige is not supposed to be alone at night. She employs another woman to get her to bed, but uses the balance of her the disability money she receives for groceries instead of a night attendant. Eventually things fall apart. Paige becomes ill and has to be hospitalized, their social worker finds out that there is no all night attendant, the sheriff discovers that Peacie is taking care of Diana at her house and warns her that this cannot continue. In the midst of all this LaRue gets caught up in local Civil Rights demonstrations. This book is electrically charged with difficult situations. Diana faces many adult issues as a young teen and must grow up quickly amidst personal and community turmoil. I listened to an audiobook recording of this book, read by the author. I recommend it to fans of Berg's work.

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