Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Elizabeth Berg: The Last Time I Saw You

We couldn't be more excited about the recent release of Elizabeth Berg's newest book, The Last Time I Saw You. Elizabeth Berg will be coming to Glen Ellyn this summer for an appearance at the 1st Annual Downtown Glen Ellyn Bookfest on June 19th.

Elizabeth Berg is the Keynote Speaker at the GE Bookfest and will be speaking at the Glenbard West High School Auditorium at 3:00pm, where she will be introduced by Glen Ellyn's own local author, Charlene Baumbich.

Tickets for Berg's appearance and book signing are available at the Downtown Glen Ellyn website, or are available in person at The Bookstore. The ticket price includes a copy of the book, which may be claimed at The Bookstore at any time prior to the event (bring your ticket). All remaining book orders will be distributed at check-in at the event. If you have any questions, just call The Bookstore at (630) 469-2891.

The Bookstore staff has already enjoyed an advance copy of the book, so we can tell you a little bit about it already. It's based on five different characters who are preparing to go to their 40th high school reunion. Anyone thinking about a reunion can relate to this book, whether you're getting ready for your 5th or your 50th. As is always the case with Elizabeth Berg's fiction, her characters are real and authentic. They have a way of giving you those familiar "me too" moments of self-recognition. One of my favorite scenes is between a mother and her 20-something daughter who is giving wardrobe advice for the reunion. I've been there, and Elizabeth Berg captures the daughter's tone perfectly (sweet or condescending? -- so hard to tell sometimes).

We heartily recommend this book to our customers, and think it will make a wonderful Mother's Day gift. (In fact, why not buy your mom a ticket to this and some of the other wonderful events at The Bookfest, and spend the day together? Fun coincidence: it's the same day as the Glen Ellyn Garden Walk.) Another great idea? Invite some of your old high school friends and share some good laughs about some of your own bad reunions!

Elizabeth was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about her book and her appearance at the GE Bookfest, and I'm happy to share the Q & A here:

Margie: I love the title of your new book: The Last Time I Saw You. It implies change, whether good or bad, and it's so open-ended. It invites us to think back to our own high school years and fill in the blank. If one of your former high school classmates said that to you now, how might they complete the sentence? Would it make you cringe or would it make you smile?

Elizabeth: Oh jeez. they'd probably say, "The last time I saw you, you were wearing cat-eye glasses and asking teachers questions like, "What is truth?" I'm embarrassed to say I actually did ask my poor history teacher that. We weren't even talking about anything like that. I just wanted him to say, "Well, what do you think it is?" and then I could answer by saying what I'd recently heard a very smart friend of mine say: "Truth is what you believe."

Margie: The book revolves around the characters' 40th High School reunion, but it will be the last reunion for this group so it feels like the stakes are raised. It's now or never. Do you think that's what motivated the characters to step up and connect? What does that say about our daily lives?

Elizabeth: There is something about last chances, isn't there? So yes, I do think it was a motivating force for all the characters to show up at their reunion. As for what it says about our daily lives, maybe it brings into focus the fact that we pass up a lot of opportunities until our backs are to the wall.

Margie: I absolutely loved the character Lester, who is an incredibly devoted veterinarian. He's the kind of doctor you dream of having, whether it's for our pets or our human family. At the same time, however, you can see that Lester's devotion comes at least in part from a sad and lonely place. It makes you wonder how often brilliant work really does spring from loss. Your thoughts?

Elizabeth: I think this is an astute observation. Lester would be a good vet because he is a kind and sensitive person and he's nuts about animals. But the degree of his devotion does indeed have to do with the fact that his work is substitute for another kind of love in his life. He's not quite sure he really wants. I think some people choose to have work be the love of their life. Or the work that they choose leaves no room for anything else and they don't have a problem with that. Most of us, of course, need the love and care of another individual, and we need to offer the same in return.

Margie: When you come to the Downtown Glen Ellyn Bookfest on June 19th, you'll be speaking at the Glenbard West High School Auditorium just a couple of weeks after the Class of 2010 graduates. I'm sure their 40th reunion in 2050 is unimaginable to them. What kind of graduation advice would some of the characters in The Last Time I Saw You offer them? (Dorothy the newly divorced one, Pete the heartthrob, Mary Alice the excluded one, Candy the beauty, or Lester the quiet vet?)


Dorothy: As much as you are able, drop the pretense. As early as you can, learn to be who you really are. Also: men are not all they're cranked up to be. Grandchildren are.

Pete: Always wear short shirts, even when you get old.

Mary Alice: The best things do not always come from obvious places. In fact, they hardly ever do. Life is capable of surprising you in the most unexpected of ways, no matter who you are or how old you are. Learn to trust the unknown and to always have hope in the future.

Candy: See and respect yourself first. Then you can love the whole world.

Lester: If you get a dog, get a big one. If you profess to love someone, make a habit of showing them that love every single day. Try to live your life looking forward not backward.

Margie: Thanks, Elizabeth!

I hope you're as excited as I am to welcome Elizabeth Berg to Glen Ellyn. See you at the Bookfest on June 19th! Any questions, just call us at (630) 469-2891 or e-mail us at justbook475@yahoo.com.


  1. Came across this site by accident -- I love it! And I live in the area, so I will have to come visit this store. For some reason, Elizabeth Berg reminds me of the book I'm reading now -- maybe it's because she's done some novels set in other times. "Dear Bob, Dear Betty" by Elizabeth Catherine Wright is about courtship, love and marriage during the Great Depression. It includes the letters written by her parents, but she also includes annotations (not to mention photos and copies of the actual letters) to create context for what was going on in this really important part of our history. Her father was Frank Lloyd Wright's youngest son, which makes for interesting context! And the letters are witty, sassy and poignant. Highly enjoyable!

  2. I should add -- I noticed your very useful listing of what book clubs are reading -- I think "Dear Bob, Dear Betty" is a natural for book clubs. I'm about to send a note out to my own club, suggesting it for a future meeting.

  3. I purchased two tickets to Elizabeth Berg's talk and I can hardly wait. Since we both have the book already, we chose the gift card. When will we receive the gift card? Will it be mailed to us or do we receive it on June 19th?

  4. For those of you who buy your tickets to the Elizabeth Berg event online and choose the gift certificate option, gift certificates are available for pick-up at The Bookstore at any time prior to the event. If that is inconvenient, all previously unclaimed gift certificates will be brought to the event itself, where they will be available at check-in upon presentation of a ticket. If you have any questions, please call The Bookstore at (630) 469-2891. Thank you!


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