We Are All Welcome Here

Berg, Elizabeth

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Annotated by:
McEntyre, Marilyn
  • Date of entry: Aug-14-2017


Based on the true story of a girl whose single mother is paralyzed by polio, this novel offers readers an unusual opportunity to reflect on particular challenges of living with a person with disability--in this case a person of remarkable resourcefulness and determination. Berg richly develops this story of how mother, daughter, and longtime caregiver/babysitter cope with the practical demands of daily life, the social pressures of growing up in a small gossipy Southern town in the civil rights era, the isolation of immobility, and the facts of ignorance and petty cruelty toward those who live on the margins. Told from the daughter's point of view, including her bouts of impatience, frustration, bewilderment, and anxiety for her mother and the ways her own adolescent concerns sometimes eclipse larger matters that loom in the world outside, the story has the psychological nuance and poignant authenticity I've come to expect of Berg's novels. 


In a thoughtful preface the author explains that though she rarely accepts people's suggestions to write some version of their stories, she found herself listening to one woman's story and agreeing to write about it in the form of a novel in which, she warned the teller, she would take whatever liberties the storytelling required, market it as fiction, and make no pretense to accurate documentation.  That said, it is clear in both the preface and the story that ensues that hearing and reflecting on the actual events involved Berg in close examination of the often painful social exclusion, disempowerment and humiliation that come with disability, with legal developments in care for those with disabilities, and in appreciative appraisal of the resourcefulness required in daily life of both people with disabilities and those who assist them with intimate care.  Though I wouldn't call it her best novel, it is a considerable contribution to the growing literature about disability and an engaging, informative, humbling read.


Random House

Place Published

New York

Page Count