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Katie Nash #3

True to Form

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In this warm and engaging novel, "New York Times" bestselling author Elizabeth Berg revisits the heroine she so lovingly brought to life in "Durable Goods" and "Joy School." It is 1961, and thirteen-year-old Katie is facing a summer full of conflict. First, instead of letting her find her own work for the season, Katie's father has arranged for two less-than-ideal baby-sitting jobs -- one for the rambunctious Wexler boys and another for Mrs. Randolph, a kind but elderly, bed-ridden neighbor. To make matters worse, Katie has been forcibly inducted into the "loser" Girl Scout troop organized by her only friend Cynthia's controlling and clueless mother. A much-anticipated visit to her former home in Texas and ex-best friend Cherylanne proves disappointing. And then comes an act of betrayal that leaves Katie questioning her views on friendship, on her ability not to take those she loves for granted, and, most important, on herself. "One thing to say about you, Katie, is that you are true. You should be proud of it, and don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise," Cherylanne insists. But whether or not Katie will ever feel true to herself remains to be seen.

From the writer whose work "The New Yorker" calls "strong" and "timeless," "True to Form" is a delicately told tale of a young girl wise beyond her years, whose growing pains finally awaken her to the clarity of forgiveness and a greater understanding of the complicated world around her. Full of the anguish and the joys of adolescence in a much more innocent time, "True to Form" is sure to make readers remember and reflect on their own moments of discovery and self-definition.

224 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2002

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About the author

Elizabeth Berg

66 books4,349 followers
Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels, including The Story of Arthur Truluv, Open House (an Oprah’s Book Club selection), Talk Before Sleep, and The Year of Pleasures, as well as the short story collection The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year. She adapted The Pull of the Moon into a play that enjoyed sold-out performances in Chicago and Indianapolis. Berg’s work has been published in thirty countries, and three of her novels have been turned into television movies. She is the founder of Writing Matters, a quality reading series dedicated to serving author, audience, and community. She teaches one-day writing workshops and is a popular speaker at venues around the country. Some of her most popular Facebook postings have been collected in Make Someone Happy and Still Happy. She lives outside Chicago.

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5 stars
1,668 (30%)
4 stars
2,292 (41%)
3 stars
1,362 (24%)
2 stars
168 (3%)
1 star
25 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 402 reviews
Profile Image for Jeanette (Ms. Feisty).
2,179 reviews1,898 followers
January 13, 2011
If you're looking for something a little fluffy but well written, not shallow or sappy, I recommend True to Form. The book was written and marketed for adults, but I wish I could have read it when I was thirteen or fourteen. Maybe it would have helped me understand that all girls make similar mistakes and have similar "aha" moments at that age. Maybe I wouldn't have felt so alone in my dilemmas and awkwardness.

What made this book work for me was that I really liked Katie Nash. She's a very precocious 13 1/2 years old. She wants to be a poet. She loves to write and store away observations about her world. A lot of her observations are laugh-out-loud funny, and others get you right down there where it murmurs.
Katie's mother died a couple of years ago, so she's had to grow up faster than other girls. The loss has made her more thoughtful and more aware of pain in other people.

Katie takes us through the summer of 1961 in Missouri. She navigates treacherous social waters, learns about true love from an elderly couple, and painfully discovers what real friendship means. I'm usually prone to cynical scoffing at books of this nature. However, Elizabeth Berg's rendition of Katie's voice is so...well, "true to form." It brought back a lot of memories of my own adolescent struggles and awakenings.

I love the way Katie takes note of every detail of the good moments in her life. She stores these moments in her internal "scrapbook" so she can pull them out and look at them when things aren't going well. I did exactly the same thing when I was her age. I used to tell myself to pay close attention, because when I got older I was going to wish I could have these moments back. I don't know how I knew that, I just did. All these years later, those amazing moments still pop into my mind when I least expect them. "Whoa! Where did that come from?" My mental scrapbook. Far out!
31 reviews1 follower
May 20, 2008
I gave this a very rare five-stars. This book encompasses one of the sweetest stories I have read in my life. It is an extremely small book (a little over 200 pages) and I savored every page. It is written like poetry and the author really knows what it is like to be that little girl on the verge of becoming a woman. It details what is like to want to "fit" in - in such a way that all of us with those inner little girls, can forgive ourselves for the manners in which we behave. I found myself in Katie, the main character - in both the good and the bad. I came away from this book with a true smile on my face and a tear in my eye to say "goodbye."
Profile Image for etherealfire.
1,209 reviews207 followers
July 7, 2014
Hardcover Library Book. Elizabeth Berg never disappoints. The 3rd installment of of the Katie Nash Books just might be the best one, though I still haven't read Joy School - the library does not have a copy of it, so I may just have to break down and get it for my kindle. Although I don't like to read books out of sequence, this book didn't really seem to need the middle one much, for context. Katie is as always, an authentic old soul at 13 1/2. That's not to say she's perfect, but she masters every lesson of growing up with gritty resolve and determination, meanwhile never losing her poetic, soulful spirit or her ability to appreciate the beauty in her world.

"Something moved into my heart at that moment that I did not really understand, but I understand it now: It is never about how good your voice is; it is only about feeling the urge to sing, and then having the courage to do it with the voice you are given. It is about what people try to share with each other, even if so many of us are so off-key when we do it. It is about saying we are somewhere, when what we mean is we are as close as we are able to get."

I only wish I'd been that profoundly self-aware at 13 1/2.
Profile Image for Ginny Messina.
Author 11 books127 followers
May 3, 2010
Elizabeth Berg is a beautiful writer--I've loved all of her books so far--and Katie Nash is probably the best pre-teen character in literature since Francie Nolan. Through Katie, Berg pulled me right back into the world of a 13-year-old. It doesn't matter that my childhood was different from Katie's in some important ways (she has lost her mother for one thing, and I also grew up a few years later), everything in this book felt familiar to me. The language is so lovely that I kind of wanted to slow down and savor it, but it's also a page turner with very short chapters that keep the story moving along. I have a bunch of Berg's books that I found at library sales and I plan to keep them all.

This book is the third in a trilogy and it would obviously be best to read the other two first, but this book can stand alone if you can't get your hands on the others.
Profile Image for Ye'Vell Hopkins.
151 reviews2 followers
October 20, 2019
Oh how I love Elizabeth Berg! She takes the ordinary, every day things, that we cannot put into words and turns them into spun gold. She knows the weight of our human emotions and how to bring them to life, through imaginative and beautiful prose. Her books are poetry, dancing, laughter, vulnerability, heart wrenching, joy, and so much more. I have loved Katie since she was first introduced to me in Durable Goods and I love her still! I would love to see Katie all grown up, living the life she has imagined! Thank you Ms. Berg for reaffirming the magic of the written word.
Profile Image for Tara.
Author 22 books537 followers
July 29, 2014
This lacked the power of the first two in the series, and I was disappointed that the third book took off in the same time period as the second. I was expecting the third to be a flash forward and a wrap-up of Katie as a young adult. Still, well-written and loved the scenes with an elderly couple. And I do love the character and wish we could see her as an adult. But Durable Goods is the best of the three.
Profile Image for Khadija Masood.
9 reviews31 followers
February 19, 2016
This book left me feeling warm and fuzzy all over. What a joy to read! I wish I had read it when I was a teenager. Berg expounds the complex universal truths in a refreshingly simple and unaffected manner. Loved her no-nonsense writing style. Don't be deceived by the simple prose though - this book is brimming with profound insights and lessons.
Profile Image for Paula.
392 reviews26 followers
April 10, 2013
True to Form was fantastic...one of my all time favorites. This book was written so wonderfully that I could have pulled a favorite quote from almost every page. This isn't the type of story that you read just to see what happens. It was like experiencing the world through the eyes of Katie Nash. The reader just lived in the moment right along with her. Throughout the book, Katie is noticing the actions and emotions of the adults in her life as she, herself, is growing into a young woman. Her observations are astute, witty, and sometimes absolutely hilarious. I loved this book so much that when I was finished I just wanted to start all over again. In fact, ironically, only a Katie Nash quote can sum up just how much I enjoyed it. I'm so sad this series is complete! I look forward to reading more Elizabeth Berg books.
Profile Image for Barbara Nutting.
2,675 reviews84 followers
April 7, 2021
A fan asked Ms Berg if there would be more stories featuring Katie Nash - so almost 10 years after Durable Goods, this book is her answer. Even though this is the end of the series, it left many unanswered questions. Maybe a Book #4?

Ya’ gotta love Katie, she tries so hard to do the right thing - not always successfully. Her bad decisions make for good moral lessons. I still think this series should be labeled Young Adult, because that’s who it’s geared towards. If I were a teenager I would have rated all three books five stars. But I am not!
304 reviews
December 1, 2008
I LOVED this book. I have fallen in love with this author, but this has been my favorite read of hers. She effectively captured the 13 year old narrator voice and connected with me. It made me laugh out loud and it made me cry. I didn't want to put it down and couldn't wait to pick it back up.

What more could you ask for in a book?
Profile Image for Linda.
699 reviews3 followers
August 16, 2020
Excellent ending to the Katie Nash series! Marketed as “adult fiction” but I wish every young girl could read it. The main character, Katie, is wise beyond her years. The author, Elizabeth Berg once again creates a wonderful story.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
492 reviews
December 6, 2022
I've never found an author like her that is so capable of putting into words the experience of being an awkward (aren't we all?) girl growing up, while still sprinkling in all these profound statements that you want to write down somewhere or read over and over.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
1,052 reviews28 followers
May 25, 2014
I stumbled upon a reference to this book "The third in the series," and I immediately put it on reserve at the Library. I loved the first two about Katie (Durable Goods and Joy School), finding Berg's depiction of a young girl's maturation delicate and thoughtful, and loving the fact that she created a world where an old priest could be a strong, kind friend, and where a girl's crush on a 20 something mechanic could turn into a warm, loving lesson.

True to Form is another winner, and I loved it. Katie's struggles continue, but she's growing stronger, still finding support from her stepmother, her priest, and her collection of friends and employers. I highly recommend these books to young women and those who love them. Their picture of the world around us is honest--bad things do happen: people die, we make mistakes and hurt others--but Berg's stories of how to cope with those facts are reassuring and hopeful.

Some quotes:

"One thing I know: Anything we have, we are only borrowing. Anything. Any time." 72

"Outside, the rain sometimes comes down so hard, we have to talk louder, and it feels like a miracle that the roof holds. It makes for a coziness, and for a gratefulness, too, that you have the choice to not be out in it. You can sit at the table and look out the window and not have to feel what you see. It seems so pure and timeless, the need for shelter, and the connection we have to cave people looking out at the weather from the entrance to their caves. Here we are, still doing it. Wearing way different things but probably feeling just the same." 133

Loved this novel!
Profile Image for Antof9.
458 reviews96 followers
January 3, 2009
My first-ever audio book.

My first notes from before I finished: I have to write this down before I forget (the downside of a tape vs. a book you can flip through!) -- I thought it was such a lovely way for Katie to describe her stepmother: . . . the calm, pleasant look in her eyes a welcome mat for my feelings.

I'm through tapes 1 and 2 and have started 3. I would be further along, but my mom called me about halfway between here and Colorado Springs this morning, and I talked to her for probably 45 minutes!

I love the actress's voice for this book! OHMYWORD -- are all audio books like this? Such a perfect match of story and narrator? wow Too bad it made me cry while I was driving!

And the rest:
I realize I don't actually have much else to add, except that I really liked how the actress' voice captured the voice of the girl telling the story, and I liked the stepmom. I remember having a pit in my stomach about her friend (was her name Cynthia? I can't remember) at the party with the "cool" girls she was trying to impress. And I also liked (a lot!) her relationship with the old couple and the kids she babysat.
Profile Image for Becky.
392 reviews158 followers
December 28, 2009
Have I mentioned that I love Elizabeth Berg?

I don't know why I never get excited about her books like I do when I grab some of my other favorite authors - because her writing is so completely alive it's fantastic.

This book in particular is about a 13 year-old-girl who is trying to find her way in life - and her thoughts, the stream-of-consciousness type of writing is so detailed, believable, and just a true pleasure to read. I would find myself smiling while reading the book, remembering the same sort of thoughts I had when I was 13 years old. The life lessons that Katie learns are beautifully tragic, the kind of things everyone goes through, and it's painful to learn and you don't know exactly what you've learned at the time - only the passage of time lets you see the true lesson.

A beautifully written coming-of-age novel that I would highly recommend to all female readers (I don't think men would get as much out of it).
Profile Image for Annie Payne.
249 reviews2 followers
May 8, 2017
This book was beautiful and touched me deeply. The way Katie describes our mothers as a luxury that we take for granted until they are gone has changed me and my outlook on life. My mom is by far no spring chicken, but she still has plenty of life ahead of her. I want it to be as happy as humanly possible, and that is my newest and biggest goal in life! I hope that there will be more from the Katie Nash story in the future. I have so very much enjoyed reading her story!
Profile Image for Julie.
841 reviews
November 18, 2017
Maybe even a 4.5

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed this author’s gift for the poetic. There were a few times the Katie is reflecting on life that it’s hard to imagine a 14 year old would be so “evolved” but it was just so darn enjoyable to read.

“I got tears in my eyes, but they were not the crying kind, they were just the kind that show you your body agrees so much with what your mind just said. (Pg. 18)”. See what I mean?
834 reviews2 followers
January 31, 2016
Engaging, endearing voice of teenager whose suffered the loss of her mother (cancer), endures a seemingly, to her, distant dad, and a meaningful relationship with a step mom who LISTENS & HEARS...
Katie's beautiful imagery creates a meaningful and insightful coming of age novel. Warms the heart ...
Profile Image for Pamela Faust.
682 reviews
April 8, 2020
The perfect book for me today. Thank you, Jeanette! Katie is telling about her life as a 13 year old. There are so many familiar feelings to her whole summer that I just had to stop and think about all of the stuff that happened when I was 13. Here’s one: In the summer of my 13th year, my dad, mom and I were going to be riding in RAGBRAI. I was so excited until the day we were supposed to leave, I got my first period. On the trip to our portage area, I ended up making a mess out of my yellow shorts and was afraid that anyone might see the blood in my crotch area. Cheryl thought she was fixing the situation by telling me to roll around in the dirt so that those stains would cover up the blood. I guess it kind of worked because nobody commented on the bloodiness of my shorts, but I have to wonder if people weren't actually thinking, "Why is that girl so dirty?"
The first day of RAGBRAI worked out well and we felt very accomplished about making it all seventy miles and not losing any of our stuff that had been transported by a bus. But that night, there was an awful storm and the two-person tent that Cheryl and I were in collapsed and we both had to go into our parents' tents. It was still soggy and gross and bike riding felt like it was going to suck.
After getting about 1 mile after five hours (there were a lot of lemonade stands that Cheryl and I felt we needed), our mothers looked at each other and thought, "I don't think these girls want to ride bikes anymore." It was time for us to get on the SAG wagon, where all the losers that were tired of riding a bike would go. Helen then got on a bus to go get her van and my mom, Cheryl and I checked into a motel until Helen came back.
Since it was supposed to be a vacation for my mom, Cheryl and I did our best to stay out of her way so she could pretend that there were no kids to bother her. We spent two days eating fried mushrooms at a nearby cafe and sat on the motel porch stairs, smoking candy cigarettes. I have the same kind of story about losing my best friends that year, but I’m not going to share that right now because it’s still too painful. All I have to say is that Durable Goods, Joy School and True to Form are some of my happiest-making books. I certainly spent very little time worrying about sickness and despair.
Profile Image for Elizabeth Roberts-Zibbel.
Author 3 books2 followers
April 19, 2018
Well. It’s been awhile since I’ve read Elizabeth Berg, and I do like her writing style, but this book really could be shelved in Children’s. Not even Teen, I would say. Katie is 13 and while many novels with child protagonists are decidedly still adult, in this one Katie has typical middle school type problems the summer before she starts high school (over a year early). Who are your real friends? What makes a good relationship between teen girls? or a good young / middle aged / elderly romantic partnership? I was a little bored.
173 reviews
July 27, 2020
I have read all 3 books in the series about Katie Nash. I found the first book, although I enjoyed it, too depressing in large part due to Katie's abusive father.

I enjoy Elizabeth Berg's writing. Her attention to the way young adults think and talk in the era is impressive.

This book was my favorite of the 3. Katie made me laugh and cry at times. She is such a breath of fresh air. Her loyalty to those she loves shines through, even as she stumbles.
Profile Image for Lyndsey.
315 reviews5 followers
October 30, 2020
2.5; a little disappointed by this last book in series; was expecting more... maybe having her finally be a little older would have helped. this really felt like an extension of others rather than a final installment. still enjoy some of the characters though
Profile Image for mady.
109 reviews4 followers
July 19, 2022
this book was so well written. i was annotating and when i say i underlined almost everything because it was just so beautiful, i’m not lying. i didn’t expect to love this as much as i did (my school was giving away this book for free).
Profile Image for Jonna Rubin.
Author 2 books59 followers
April 27, 2008
"True to Form" beautifully illustrates the small challenges and trials of growing up in one of the most realistically stunning novels I've read in a long time.

In this coming of age novel, we are reunited with young Katie Nash, of Berg's previous novels, who is facing some difficult choices appropriate for a young girl at the age of thirteen. While, as many have noted, we're not exactly breaking new ground here, Berg writes beautifully and with such authenticity that it's nearly impossible not to enjoy the ride.

Katie's struggles are relatively minor, but they are vividly drawn portraits of the challenges of a thirteen year-old girl, and watching Katie work through it with the pluck and shortcomings of a precocious young girl is an absolute delight. Unlike other novels that deal with childhood betrayal, Katie's transgressions are fairly simple, and more typical of a girl her age - she backstabs a close friend in the name of being 'cool' - yet it is so wonderfully written that every scene leaps off the page. This is not a book that's high on plot - it's more of a simple, beautiful character study of a young girl coming into her own, warts and all.

I absolutely reveled and delighted in it, and it's short enough to be a quick summer read while frittering away a hot afternoon by the pool.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
204 reviews3 followers
September 25, 2010
I'm highly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It's the only book by Elizabeth Berg that I've read, and I only picked it up because a neighbor pushed it on me at her garage sale. It's short (214 pages) and was the perfect take-it-on-vacation book. I love that she gets into the head of a 13-year-old, but you don't feel like you're reading YA lit. Berg clearly loves the written word, and her descriptions are marvelously poetic (but not in a "roll your eyes" kind of way). Why are people reading Jodi Picoult instead of Elizabeth Berg??
Profile Image for Denise Westlake.
972 reviews33 followers
May 10, 2016
"Every single thing can have such a pure beauty that it aches to be known. " -104
In some couples, each puts the other first." - 111
" sometimes I get this feeling of a wink coming down from heaven to me" -116

This is a great book.. the third in a series, but you really wouldn't NEED to read the others to enjoy.. especially if you used to be a young girl who TRIED to sleep through the night with rollers in your hair ... and who thought your dad was strick... and cared about what the cool kids thought.. yeah. You. You will love this character Katie Nash.
Profile Image for Emily.
646 reviews36 followers
March 9, 2016
What a sweet little book. A little cloying, but only at the very end. A good random read. It kept my attention. There were no surprises, but I wasn't expecting any. A nice rainy day easy read between thinky nonfiction. The audiobook performer was good. Berg is a pleasant palate cleanser. And no, I hadn't read the other two in this character's series. I just picked this one off the shelf at the library because I needed an audiobook and I vaguely remembered reading another innocuous book of the author's.
Profile Image for Mandy.
764 reviews22 followers
November 30, 2009
This is a sweet book. It is about a 13 1/2 year old girl's Summer holidays, and her hopes, dreams, longings, friendships, disappointments etc. Berg's fluid writing is so effortless to read that the book just flows by. I read this novel in one day - half on the ferry to Guernsey and half on the way back.

I can't say that I thought much about it whilst in Guernsey though, nor that thoughts have popped up in my head about the book since reading it.
3 reviews
August 22, 2009
This book has the most beautiful language in it! The use of description creates word pictures that are memorable. I could have used this one for teaching writing in school, however, the content is actually written for adults. The main character is a teen, but my friends and I agreed that is an adult book.
Profile Image for Kim Villarreal.
28 reviews3 followers
December 22, 2007
These three books have meant so much to me. I think Katie is the girl I have always wanted to be but never quite had the nerve. Reading these books made me want to go back and get it right, just to see where my life would have taken me.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 402 reviews

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