Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister

"Moving, touching, wonderfully written, inspiring to read."-Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain At a festive, intimate 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, each of them will also do the one thing they always swore they'd never do-and Kate is going to choose their adventure, from getting a tattoo to learning to bake bread to reconciling with a former friend. Shimmering with warmth, wit, and insight, Joy for Beginners is a celebration of life: unexpected, lyrical, and deeply satisfying.

My take: 4 looks
This is the second book I have read by Bauermeister, and I must say that she is one of my favorites. Her writing absolutely transports me. One of the few authors who is able to make me feel a part of the story and not simply reading a story.

With that said, I really enjoyed the characters in this book. I loved the premise of the story: a cancer survivor handing out individual tasks to complete within a year to those friends who supported her through her illness. She has an uncanny knack for assigning extremely personal, poignant and life changing tasks to each woman.

I loved that each chapter was devoted to an individual woman. There was no one main character. Each chapter gave insight, background and reasoning into the woman. When a chapter was complete, you knew this person. However, each character popped in and out of all of the chapters, serving to make each character full and well-rounded. With the end of each chapter, I was sad to see that person go, and sure that I would not relate as fully with the next one; only to be proven wrong. By the end of the book, I loved all of these women, and their husbands, kids, boyfriends and mothers.

What keeps me from giving this one 5 looks? I'm not sure. It wasn't awe-inspiring, ground-breaking, life-changing or envelope-pushing. It is just great storytelling, and writing that really speaks to me. Maybe it IS a five. :)

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