Random House, Apr 2004, 24.95
Now in her fifties, quilter Laura Bartone looks forward to the annual extended family gathering in Minnesota. Her husband Pete and their two children will accompany her as she gets together with her parents and her two siblings and their families. However, before they leave, her younger sister Caroline calls Laura to ask for some private time with her and their brother Steve.
When the siblings meet, Caroline explains that she is very depressed and considering a divorce. Laura thinks back to how as a child she used to abusively tease her sister, who always tried so hard to gain approval from their aloof mother, but failed. Caroline explains that she is getting professional help, but believes her melancholy stems from childhood abusive events that she buried. She asks her siblings if they can recall any cruelty from their parents, especially their mother towards her. At first in denial, Laura and Steve start recalling frightening horrendous incidents and other revelations surface, but whether that will help the depressed Caroline or make things worse for her and her now stunned siblings, only time will tell.
THE ART OF MENDING is an intriguing deep look at how adults cope or fail to muddle through childhood traumas. The story line is clearly a character study that enables the audience to see deep inside the three siblings, but is told from the lens of Caroline. Though the spouses and children seem so perfect (almost Stepford) so that they never negatively “impact” on the trio especially Caroline, fans of an insightful family drama will welcome Elizabeth Berg's solid perceptive work.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner