Skip to main content
Font size options
Increase or decrease the font size for this website by clicking on the 'A's.
Contrast options
Choose a color combination to give the most comfortable contrast.

Cover of Earth's the Right Place for Love by Elizabeth Berg

Earth's the Right Place for Love

by Elizabeth Berg

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Coming of Age

Nola McCollum is the most desirable girl in Arthur’s class, and he is thrilled when they become friends. But Arthur wants far more than friendship. Unfortunately, Nola has a crush on the wrong Moses—Arthur’s older brother, Frank, who is busy pursuing his own love interest and avoiding the boys’ father, a war veteran with a drinking problem and a penchant for starting fights. When a sudden tragedy rocks the family’s world, Arthur struggles to come to terms with his grief. In the end, it is nature that helps him to understand how to go on, beyond loss, and create a life of forgiveness and empathy. But what can he do about Nola, who seems confused about what she wants in life, and only half aware of the one who loves her most?

Discussion Guide

Headshot of Elizabeth Berg

Author Biography

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. - Goodreads

More Titles By This Author



This prequel to The Story of Arthur Truluv (2017) brings Arthur Moses' young adult years to the forefront. As Arthur nears the end of his life, his solitary thoughts turn to his youth. Mentally stepping back decades in time, he relives the highs and lows of his teens and early adulthood in the late 1940s and early 1950s in the small town of Mason, Missouri, the setting for several of prolific author Berg's previous novels. Arthur remembers meeting the love of his life, losing a family member, and learning to see his parents in a new light. Capturing timeless issues of fickle friendships, unrequited love, and parental expectations, Berg's latest novel will appeal to fans of Catherine Ryan Hyde, Anna Quindlen, and Erica Bauermeister. Her treatment of teenage love is especially poignant, as Arthur weighs the pros and cons of professing his love for the object of his affection, Nola, versus maintaining their deep, stable friendship. Berg's latest novel is a charming and heartwarming glimpse of an elderly man's earliest days.

Publisher's Weekly

Berg revisits the protagonist of her 2017 novel The Story of Arthur Truluv with this gentle coming-of-age. In 1947 Missouri, 16-year-old Arthur Moses has a crush on Nola McCollum, but she has her eyes on Arthur's older brother, Frank, a high school senior. Frank, though, has been secretly dating the new, young English teacher Mary Anker. He also bears the brunt of their father, Eugene's rages, sparked partly by Eugene's frustration over his declining milk delivery business. Taking advice from Frank, Arthur works up the nerve to ask Nola to the movies, only to have their date called off when a tornado rips through town. More complications, including another boy swooping in to take credit for Arthur's gift of flowers, stymie him further. Frank, meanwhile, learns Mary is pregnant, upending his hopes of becoming a writer. The stakes generally feel pretty low--Berg homes in on the family's everyday moments, as Arthur picks up wisdom from older neighbors and Eugene lands a new job--so when a freak accident involving Frank arrives, it feels a bit jarring. Still, Berg does a nice job tending to the slow-burn romance between Arthur and Nola, which readers of the earlier book know will lead to a lifelong marriage. The author's fans ought to be satisfied. Agent: Suzanne Guck, WME. (Mar.)


A coming-of-age story about two brothers supporting each other through life's twists and turns in Mason, Missouri. It is the spring of 1947, and 16-year-old Arthur Moses is in love. Not the fleeting puppy love of his peers, but a deep, all-consuming love that he's certain is real. The only problem is that Nola McCollum doesn't look his way, and when she finally does, it's to ask Arthur to pass her number on to his older brother, Frank. Arthur says he will but instead hides the note in his desk and asks Frank for his advice on how to win Nola over. Frank needs advice for his own troubles, and Berg's narration of the two young men whispering to each other at night in their shared bedroom lends a profound sweetness to the novel even as the boys deal with the harsh realities of their lives such as an abusive father. Despite his lack of success wooing Nola, Arthur, who loves trees and his hometown and treats everyone he meets with gentle kindness, soldiers on with calm resolve, certain that someday his brother's advice will lead Nola to him. But when a gut-wrenching tragedy hits the Moses household, Arthur is not sure he can or should ever try to be happy again. While the relationship between the brothers is the novel's crowning jewel, Berg's ability to create characters--even some we meet for only a few scenes--with rich inner lives cannot be overpraised: "But he knew that now he would be seeing her in an altogether different way. There she would be, standing fierce on her stoop, but behind her would be a lot of other hers, younger hers, wearing a polka-dotted dress or a red wool suit, or the cotton-print robe she'd had to cut extra-careful to keep whole the wings of the big white birds." A poignant tale of love, grief, and the resiliency of the human spirit. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal

Berg calls back to her 2017 novel The Story of Arthur Truluv in this sweet and sad story that stands on its own. It explores the early life of Arthur (who is an octogenarian in the 2017 novel) and what turned him into the kind and sensitive man who so many readers fell in love with. This new novel is set in 1947, with Arthur as a 16-year-old growing up in small-town Missouri. Awkward and sweet, with a deep love of trees and the natural world, his other deep love is Nola--one of the prettiest girls in school, and way out of his league. Arthur relies on his handsome, charismatic older brother Frank to guide him in his patient effort to conquer Nola's heart. Frank has his own issues, including his and Arthur's overbearing and sometimes scary father. Frank has also fallen in love with his gorgeous young English teacher and impresses her with his vibrant writing, to the point that they're secretly planning to start a new life together once Frank graduates. Then a terrible tragedy hits the Truluv family, changing Arthur forever. VERDICT Berg continues to channel her own version of Fannie Flagg with her small-town Southern tale that goes back in time to fill in the details of a memorable character's life.--Beth Liebman Gibbs


Cover of Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos Love Walked In
by Marisa De Los Santos

When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. But little does she know that her newfound love is only the harbinger of greater changes to come. Meanwhile, across town, Clare Hobbs—eleven years old and abandoned by her erratic mother—goes looking for her lost father. She crosses paths with Cornelia while meeting with him at the café, and the two women form an improbable friendship that carries them through the unpredictable currents of love and life.

Cover of Setting Free the Kites by Alex George Setting Free the Kites
by Alex George

For Robert Carter, life in his coastal Maine hometown is comfortably predictable. But in 1976, on his first day of eighth grade, he meets Nathan Tilly, who changes everything. Nathan is confident, fearless, impetuous—and fascinated by kites and flying. Robert and Nathan’s budding friendship is forged in the crucible of two family tragedies, and as the boys struggle to come to terms with loss, they take summer jobs at the local rundown amusement park. It’s there that Nathan’s boundless capacity for optimism threatens to overwhelm them both, and where they learn some harsh truths about family, desire, and revenge.

Cover of The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig The Bartender's Tale
by Ivan Doig

Tom Harry has a streak of frost in his black pompadour and a venerable bar called The Medicine Lodge, the chief watering hole and last refuge in the town of Gros Ventre, in northern Montana. Tom also has a son named Rusty, an “accident between the sheets” whose mother deserted them both years ago. The pair make an odd kind of family, with the bar their true home, but they manage just fine.

Until the summer of 1960, that is, when Rusty turns twelve. Change arrives with gale force, in the person of Proxy, a taxi dancer Tom knew back when, and her beatnik daughter, Francine. Is Francine, as Proxy claims, the unsuspected legacy of her and Tom’s past? Without a doubt she is an unsettling gust of the future, upending every certainty in Rusty’s life and generating a mist of passion and pretense that seems to obscure everyone’s vision but his own.