Wednesday, August 10, 2011

[Book Review] JOY FOR BEGINNERS by Erica Bauermeister


Laura reviews JOY FOR BEGINNERS by Erica Bauermeister (Putnam, 2011)

This book begins with a dinner party that Kate is hosting for her friends as a thank you for their support as she battled cancer. Her friends insisted it was to celebrate that she is now cancer free.

Her friends had been encouraging Kate to take a white-water rafting trip with her daughter, Robin, but Kate has always been too scared to do it. At the dinner party, Kate announced she would do this if each of her six friends would agree to take up their own challenges within a year. Since Kate did not get to choose her challenge, she proposed that she should be allowed to choose the challenge each friend received. Each woman agreed, but with some apprehension.

Each chapter of the book is named after one of the women and reveals how they came to meet another person in this tight-knit circle; how the relationships among the friends developed before, and after, Kate’s cancer; how they approached their challenge; and how their individualized challenge was significant to a weakness they would deal with to help them live their lives more fully.

I particularly enjoyed how it seemed that both similarities and differences among these women and their own life challenges were important to the establishment of their friendships. The group dynamic was interesting in that certain pairs of friends seemed to have closer relationships and see each other more often, but the entire group could still get together and enjoy each other’s company, too.

Laura Salehi, Bartlett Branch

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