JOY FOR BEGINNERS
By Erica Bauermeister
Published June 9, 2011
At an intimate, festive dinner party in Seattle, six women gather to celebrate their friend Kate’s recovery from cancer. Wineglass in hand, Kate strikes a bargain with them. To celebrate her new lease on life, she’ll do the one thing that’s always terrified her: white-water rafting. But if she goes, all of them will also do something they always swore they’d never do-and Kate is going to choose their adventures.
On June 11th, I blogged about how excited I was to read this book. I was NOT disappointed! As I said, I loved the premise behind this book. The story begins with the Victory Party at Kate’s to celebrate her victory over cancer. At this party, she declares she is going to do the one thing she fears. Her fear, chosen by her adult daughter, was to go white water rafting. Then, Kate announces that everyone else needs to do the one thing each of them fears, but Kate gets to pick the adventure. From there each chapter focuses on one friend, their life and their fear. Each fear varied from the seemingly simple one of baking bread to getting a tatoo. But each one has an emotional component to it that makes the challenge that much more difficult. Each chapter flows beautifully to the next with some character’s lives wrapped into the next one. You will find yourself holding your breath as each woman breaks through her fear and comes out on the other side. The book’s last chapter is Kate’s story. It covers her ups and downs with cancer, her adventure and why she assigned the particular fears to each of her friends.
I purposely read this book slow because I could tell from the very first chapter, that I was going to love it and not want the story to end. Each woman in the story was unique in her fears, but everyone that reads this could identify with at least one of the women. I found myself identifying with Sara, the mom of 3 kids. Some of them had such pain and heartache in their lives that you felt their fear while reading their chapter; holding your breath right along with them.
There is no doubt this book would be a great read for book clubs. The story offers many avenues for discussion topics. The author also leave many things to the imagination, not always tidying up every character’s situation. She leaves you wondering……now what?
I think this has become my favorite book so far this year, ranking it 5 out of 5 stars. I know it is one I will pick up and read again. This book left me wanting more from Kate and her amazing group of friends. Maybe there will be more to the story. Thanks to Putnam for sending me a copy of this book to review.
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