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The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts Of Liberation

Review

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts Of Liberation

In
this purely enjoyable collection of short stories, women who are
(refreshingly) not young, hip or famous take pleasure in mutinies
that change their everyday lives, if not the world. Readers are
sure to relate to these rebels, thanks to author Elizabeth
Berg’s trademark warm descriptions of down-to-earth
characters stepping outside their comfort zones.


Several of the collection's tales are diet-related; the characters'
attitudes in each will make most of us grin in self-recognition.
Leading the way, the title story begins at Dunkin' Donuts after the
main character attends a Weight Watchers meeting. Two new members
--- an elderly slim woman on oxygen and a slender blind lady ---
boggle our heroine, who decides that she will spend a day eating
whatever she craves, in honor of these dieters who should not be
trying to lose weight.


At Dunkin' Donuts, she starts with coffee, heavy on the cream, plus
a huge box of every one of her favorite pastries. Then she sits in
her car and inhales as much as she possibly can (which turns out to
be about one-third). She’s so full that she must go for a
walk in order to make room for lunch. Lunch is a problem because
there are too many choices, yet she manages to narrow it down to a
diner bacon cheeseburger with the works. After dinner, she destroys
her scale but is not quite ready to give up the good fight --- and
her story winds down to a rueful, hilarious conclusion.


Many tales reflect the comfortable and comforting friendships women
forge over the years. In the warm "Mrs. Ethel Menafee and Mrs.
Birdie Stolz," the title characters are two widows who console each
other through a difficult time while reflecting on their long
friendship. In "Truth or Dare," a group of women challenge one
another to initiate lunch dates they're terrified to make,
propelling divorcee Laura down a twisty path of lies before she
stumbles upon a redemption she doesn't share when her pals relate
their own entertaining lunch date stories.


Mature romantic love makes a vibrant theme in many of these tales.
In "Returns and Exchanges," Agnes, who weighs 176 pounds and whose
socks don't match, has the opportunity to once again meet up with
an old love, with unexpected and satisfying results. Although it's
difficult to pick a favorite out of such a group of winners, my
heart belongs to Rita in the multi-layered "Sin City," who decides
to ditch her safe retirement community life to take a gamble while
wearing a charm bracelet talisman.


In honor of this book, I spent a day I like to call "The Day I Read
Whatever I Wanted," in which I gobbled down THE DAY I ATE WHATEVER
I WANTED cover to cover. I recommend my own small act of
liberation, and this lovely collection, to female readers
everywhere.


   











Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (terryms2001@yahoo.com) on December 29, 2010

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts Of Liberation
by Elizabeth Berg

  • Publication Date: April 15, 2008
  • Genres: Fiction, Short Stories
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 1400065097
  • ISBN-13: 9781400065097