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Joy School

(Katie Nash #2)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  5,869 ratings  ·  392 reviews
In this exquisite new novel by bestselling writer Elizabeth Berg, a young woman falls in love -- and learns how sorrow can lead to an understanding of joy.

Katie, the narrator, has relocated to Missouri with her distant, occasionally abusive father, and she feels very much alone: her much-loved mother is dead; her new school is unaccepting of her; and her only f
Published August 25th 2010 by Ballantine Books (first published 1997)
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Lisa Colodny I'm a fan, I like them all but Open house was my favorite
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Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,869 ratings  ·  392 reviews

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Joy School is a follow-up to Elizabeth Berg’s debut novel, Durable Goods, where we were introduced to main character Katie at twelve years of age. Although I enjoyed the first book, in Joy School there are more conflicts, beautifully layered together. At its heart though, this book, set in the 1950’s, is a story of first love.

Now thirteen, Katie meets and falls for 23-year-old “shiver-handsome” Jimmy, who works in a garage, is married, and has a child. But Katie doesn’t realize this for quite s
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: funny-stuff
Perhaps this was a guilty pleasure but I really liked this wonderful (if not a bit formulaic) dip into the mind of a thirteen-year-old girl as she navigates a cruel new town, unusual new friends, and an older man she falls in love with. There were a lot of funny scenes and I appreciated Berg's quick and succinct way of introducing her characters and how they look and act. A sweet little book with a lot of heart. Pretty close to a 5-star book for me actually. Am I getting soft or what?!
Book Concierge
Katie is an 12-year-old Army brat, whose mother has died. She is new to town and school, and she has a huge crush on a married garage station manager. It's a touching coming of age story, told poignantly.

UPDATE - second reading 20July2013
Twelve-year-old Katie has moved with her Army colonel father to a suburb of St Louis. An Army brat, Katie is used to being the new kid in school, but things are particularly difficult now that her mother has died and her older sister, Diane, has gotten ma
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The kind of y/a adults will gobble up as eagerly. Not quite as moving as its prequel, Durable Goods, Joy School is nonetheless wrenching and engaging. Katie, now living in Missouri with her father and their housekeeper/nanny, is about to turn 13. She has trouble making friends at her new school for a while, then makes some dubious ones (all while reminding me strongly of Haven Kimmel's child self-portait in A Girl Called Zippy), while half-maintaining correspondence with the ever delightful Cherylanne and wi ...more
Jul 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, on to Katie Nash #3. She is an addictive character with a unique voice. A sweet follow up to Durable Goods. Berg's a writer I'd love to have lunch with....
I'm so glad I finally realized that the Katie Nash books formed a trilogy. Better late than never! They all work fine as stand alones, but obviously work best if read in order.

Berg has created a wonderful character in Katie: just entering her teen years, she's struggling with the loss of her mother, trying to make new friends after her father has moved (yet again) to another army base, and discovering heartache of first love and loss... all of it adds up to a lovely little book, and
Feb 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think Katie could be good friends with Francie from Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and I could be friends with them both. They are both old souls with a clear sense of self. Children are definitely meant to be listened to because they usually make the most sense.
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Katie's army father has moved her to Missouri, far from her familiar school, her best friend, and her older sister. Katie struggles to fit in in her new home and becomes friends with a rag-tag group of people--the most beautiful girl in school, a classmate's ailing Italian grandmother, and an all too handsome gas station attendant.
This book was laugh-out-loud funny. The protagonist, an introverted 13 year old, whose thoughts are loud and precocious and almost too honest, is wildly loveable. She
John Henry
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is Elizabeth Berg underrated as a gifted author and too much the best seller producer? She knows how to sculpt one wonderful phrase after another until you're captivated and happy and sad about it at the same time.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I don't normally choose this type of book, but I just LOVE Katie Nash. She's one of my favorite imaginary adolescents. She's funny and sensitive, and she feels so real. Technically these aren't young adult books, but I put them on my YA shelf because I wish they'd been around when I was that age.
Dec 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Berg is a no-fail writer. She's a reader's treasure--everything is good. This book is no exception to her fine writing. The character's are well defined. You get invested in the lives of the people. Definitely a must read for Berg fans.

Beth McSunas
Nov 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly one of the finest books I have ever read. Her writing is a soul filler! Her every sentence seems important. You don't want to miss a word. My sister told me about her years ago! I wish I had listened. Wonderful, Wonderful, wonderful!
Miranda Marchese
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So this one was really, really nice. Like the last book I read, it was more of a 4.5 star than a 4 star rating, but since Goodreads doesn't let you do half stars, it's just a 4 star on here. I should say that I may have read this book when I was in high school- I know I read the first book in this series, Durable Goods but I'm not sure if I picked up this one. I don't think I did- there are some scenes, particularly the (view spoiler) ...more
Panther Library
I love the language of this book. When 13-year-old Katie is talking with the priest after Thanksgiving, the entire scene is so warm and reassuring. And then Katie closes it out by thinking, “the language of the body can be such a gentle thing.”

So many moments in this book are sweet and sad and funny all at once. When she tells the priest about her tendency to lie, for example: “He talked about a surface being eroded and how that changes a character of a thing and I looked into his eyes like I w
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not quite a 4, but definitely a 3-1/2 stars.

Joy School is the second book in the Katie Nash series. I read this one in just two days (it helped that I was on a flight to Toronto from Florida.) (I think I would had read it that fast anyway). I do enjoy Elizabeth Berg's books!

Like the first book, Durable Reads, Berg's is a master of getting into a mind of a 13 year. As a reader, you'd swear Berg's was just recently a 13 year herself. How she is able to pull this off, like no other wri
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a sweet little read. I've gone about reading the Nash trilogy backwards...I thought "Joy School" was the first in the Nash trilogy, turns out it's second. So I'm reading "Durable Goods" right now, which is the first in the series. But "Joy School" also works well as a standalone.

Berg's writing is beautiful. Katie's voice is authentic in this and the narrative hits all the right marks. She's not overly precocious or pretentious and I loved the letters to and from her friend Chery
Marlene Cullen
Sep 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Berg creates characters so lovable you want them to to solve their problems and live happily ever after.
Joy School’s Katie is adorable. Her growing pains are palpable and yet she carries on with admirable determination.
Berg’s story endings are satisfying, leaving the reader hopeful for a better future and an improved world. Excerpted from the end of Joy School:
“Now a cold wind blows suddenly, pushes my hair across my face and I get to see everything in slats. I put my hand
Sierra Eva (evabooks on Instagram)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jane Hoppe
Nov 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honest. Clever. Guileless. Did I mention honest? Joy School's heroine is as winsome as they come. Elizabeth Berg's twelve-year-old Katie is a child so sincerely trying to grow up, get by, do the right thing, be liked, love and be loved, I cannot help but be in her corner. Katie is smart, observant, sensitive, and funny. From her hilarious descriptions of her high school teachers to her desire to know how to kiss when the time comes, this novel entertains. And helps me laugh at what I probably fe ...more
Cathryn Conroy
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's so hard to be a teenage girl! But in the hands of author Elizabeth Berg, the experiences of 13-year-old Katie Nash are rich with joy and sorrow, despair and hope and love and friendship. This is the second of a three-part series (the first of which is "Durable Goods" and the second of which is "True to Form"). It's the early 1960s. Katie, who is an Army brat, has moved with her father from Texas to Missouri where she is in ninth grade. If you've ever been the "new kid" in school, you will r ...more
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks, read-2018
Meh. I've read a lot of Elizabeth Berg novels, and this one is definitely not one of my favorites. Nevertheless, I do remember being 13, and having crushes that I was convinced were true love. It seems dramatic and silly now, and in that respect Berg delivers. I definitely don't remember scheming to get attention the way these girls did, and I found it offputting. Ironically, the only character I actually found likeable was Jimmy, the crush in question, so it was a bit of a grudge getting throug ...more
May 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trilogy, 1997
My Original Notes (1997):

What an enjoyable novel! I loved the story and couldn't put it down. Berg is a wonderful writer and I've enjoyed so many of her other books, especially Talk Before Sleep. I'll look forward to reading these both again in a few years.

My Current Thoughts:

I don't know if I ever reread this or not, but it looks like it only took me a couple of days to read it the first time around, so I may give it another go. I'll read Durable Goods again,
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya
Initially I thought I wasn't going to like this book that much. It seemed a little like something a girl in junior high (showing my age there!) would read. But, as I continued reading, it really began to remind and show me how a girl of 13 begins to mature. The thought processes and relationships begin to change. There was humor and insight to many of the characters and I ended up liking it very much. It was quick and easy to read too.
Barbara Walsh
Oct 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another good book by Elizabeth Berg. I couldn’t put this down especially since I had just finished Durable Goods and wanted to see what would happen to the main character as she and her dad made their move from Texas. I found the writing to be rich and there were several sentences that stood out for me including, “This is my lucky day, there is a duck convention.”
This is a delightful book and worth reading!
Sheri Howard
“I can be with someone and everything is fine and then all of a sudden it can wash over me like a sickness, that I need the quiet of my own self. I need to unload my head and look at what I've got in there so far. See it. Think what it means. I always need to come back to being alone for a while.”
Mistakenly read True to Form before Joy School rather than after, but don't think it mattered much. Both are sweet, but a bit sappy.
Judy Adams
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Can you remember your early teen years, and that first love that broke your heart. Katie’s mother has passed away and they have moved. Her dad is lost in his own world, and Katie is looking for hers. It’s a story of being lost, wanting hope, needing love, looking for friends and needing someone and someway to be needed.
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second time reading this one, and it was fine because I hardly remembered anything! It's a coming-of-age story about Katie, who is thirteen, new to her school trying to connect with someone, and dealing with the loss of her mother. I thought Berg captured what it's like to be a young girl PERFECTLY!
Kevin Kern
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teens-ya
This is Katie Nash's story, after she moves with her father to a new town. She is a very young 9th grader, trying to make friends. Her housekeeper is kind, which is helpful, but everything else in Katie's life is a bit scattershot. This is a quick read, but not just for teens and YA. Life for teens now is more fraught with drugs and school shootings, but a lot is the same.
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
So I have finished the trilogy, albeit out of order, and just love Katie Nash. I hope that Elizabeth Berg will continue Katie's story, since she is now a dear friend to my once-thirteen-year-old self. I want to know what happens next!
Oct 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful book by Elizabeth Berg, my favorite author. This series of 3 books about Katie Nash takes me right back to the feelings of a 13 year-old. Poignant, tender, humorous and a very satisfying read.
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Elizabeth Berg is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including We Are All Welcome Here, The Year of Pleasures, The Art of Mending, Say When, True to Form, Never Change, and Open House, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection in 2000. Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, and Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for the ABBY Award in 1996. The winner of the 1997 New England Booksellers Award for her body of wo ...more

Other books in the series

Katie Nash (3 books)
  • Durable Goods (Katie Nash, #1)
  • True to Form (Katie Nash, #3)
“If I were to draw on a paper what gym does for me, I would make one dot and then I would erase it.” 90 likes
“When it's new and important, you have to rest in between times. And anyway, even when I like a person there is a weariness that comes. I can be with someone and everything is fine and then all of a sudden it can wash over me like a sickness, that I need the quiet of my own self. I need to unload my head and look at what I've got in there so far. See it. Think what it means. I always need to come back to being alone for a while.” 32 likes
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