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Review: Joy for Beginners

July 7, 2011

When Kate was diagnosed with cancer, her friends were there to support her so, now that she’s recovered, it’s only natural that they should get together to celebrate.   Kate tells her friends that her daughter wants her to go white water rafting down the Grand Canyon and admits that the thought of it terrifies her.  Her friends urge her to go and she agrees, as long as they each do one thing that terrifies them, and Kate gets to decide what each of them will do.

Joy for Beginners, by Erica Bauermeister, is a wonderful novel written as a series of connected short stories.  Each character has her own story, but other characters make appearances in each of the stories, so they’re well developed and endearing.   Just like real people, none of the characters are perfect, so I found them easy to relate to.

The tasks Kate assigns her friends aren’t overly complicated, but each one suits the friend perfectly.  I loved watching the women struggle to complete their assigned task and grow as they progressed along their journeys and I rooted for each of them along the way.  I found it refreshing to read a book about a group of women who are caring and supportive of each other.  Like true friends, they know each other’s faults, and accept them, and love each other in spite of them.

Joy for Beginners is a beautifully written story of friendship and devotion.  It will inspire you to appreciate your friends and challenge yourself to tackle your fears, large or small.  It will pick you up and make you smile.  Do yourself a favor and read it!

Review copy provided by the author.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
53 Comments leave one →
  1. July 7, 2011 5:47 am

    With all of my heart, I LOVED School of Essential Ingredients, and it was masterful on audio. I’ve heard this could be compared to that book, so I am patiently waiting to see the audio appear at my library. Erica Bauermeister, you rock.

  2. July 7, 2011 6:13 am

    This sounds really good Kathy, but don’t think I am up for another illness storyline just yet.. I loved her first book.

    • July 7, 2011 6:40 am

      The friends are celebrating Kate’s recovery as the book opens, so her illness is in the past. The book really celebrates life.

  3. July 7, 2011 6:59 am

    I agree, Kathy. This is a delightful book and I’m anxious to give it a second reading. I love Bauermiester’s books and can’t wait for #3! 🙂

  4. July 7, 2011 7:01 am

    I had really enjoyed School of Essential Ingredients, so I am glad to hear that Joy for Beginners is a beautifully written story. I have found some great books about friendship between women this year- this is going to be on my list too.

  5. July 7, 2011 7:12 am

    “It will pick you up and make you smile.” – I agree absolutely. This book is a very good one for women to read. It made me glad that I was a woman with friends. I recommended it last night at my mystery book group meeting, if that means anything. LOL

    Not a mystery of course. 🙂

  6. July 7, 2011 7:32 am

    This book sounds wonderful! I love books that focus on friendships and this one sounds right up my alley. Great review! Will definitely be jotting down the title of this one – thanks!

  7. July 7, 2011 7:35 am

    Sounds ilke a good book but I am another one who can’t read books about cancer. Why? I know this isn’t rational but I feel that no one depicts cancer well in a novel. I know every patient has their own illness but with my mom dying from breast cancer in February (6 year battle) and a close friend dying (4 years) this summer…. I have expereinced the details no one captures in word.

    That said, everyone seems to be enjoying this book! It’s just a topic too close to my heart right now. 🙂

  8. July 7, 2011 8:54 am

    I really liked her first book so this is on my tbr list. Glad to see you enjoyed it.

  9. kaye permalink
    July 7, 2011 8:55 am

    This does sound inspiring! very nice review, Kathy. Glad you enjoyed the book so much.

  10. July 7, 2011 8:57 am

    I bet I’ll love this one – its reminding me just a little of the friends in “Talk Before Sleep” by Elizabeth Berg.

  11. July 7, 2011 9:05 am

    I agree this book is really not about the illness. Actually if there would be a depressing theme I would say it would be more about losing your life partner through death or divorce. But it’s not a depressing book at all, although it IS a kleenex book! :–)

  12. July 7, 2011 9:10 am

    Maybe not. I truly do seem to stay away from the heavy subjects

  13. July 7, 2011 9:30 am

    I have read this one and while i may not have like it quite as much as you did, I enjoyed it.
    I like your comment that it will make you smile. what more can a reader want?

  14. July 7, 2011 10:09 am

    I need to read this as it sounds like one I would love. I really enjoy women’s friendship stories.

    It also sounds like a great bookclub pick.

  15. Veens permalink
    July 7, 2011 10:39 am

    I really like the concept of this book. Sounds great 🙂

  16. July 7, 2011 11:00 am

    I loved this book, and found it really similar to her first book in the way that it was arranged. I also really liked the characters in this book, but some more than others. A great read for me, and for you too, I can see!

  17. July 7, 2011 11:35 am

    I’ve been wondering about this one ever since I saw it a few months back. I like the idea of doing something you’ve always wanted and keep pushing it off. I’ve been trying to do something like that lately, so I would enjoy reading about it in a book.

  18. July 7, 2011 11:37 am

    Nice review, will go on my tbr list, thanks!

  19. July 7, 2011 12:13 pm

    I like books that celebrate life and friendships so this will go on my must read list. I was afraid this would be a depressing read. Thank you for letting us know it is not. As always, great review, Kathy!

  20. July 7, 2011 12:24 pm

    It sounds fabulous, but I do have a hard time getting into books that are made up of intertwined short stories from different points of view. I have read nothing but great things about School of Essential Ingredients, and even read the first chapter (which I liked) but I set it down several months ago and just haven’t been in the right mood to pick it back up. All of this makes me hesitant to grab this book. It seems to be getting great reviews from everyone though.

  21. July 7, 2011 1:12 pm

    Okay, I think I’ve heard enough to make me want to read this now. I was worried it would be too much or overly chick-litty but it sounds like a wonderful story about friendship. Women’s friendships don’t always come across well in print so I’ve been holding off.

  22. July 7, 2011 1:15 pm

    This sounds like a lovely, inspirational collection of stories. Wonderful review, Kathy!

  23. July 7, 2011 1:25 pm

    Another book to add to my TBR list!

  24. Beth Hoffman permalink
    July 7, 2011 3:12 pm

    Terrific review, Kathy! I’ve got this book on my TBR list.

  25. July 7, 2011 3:13 pm

    You captured the essence of this novel perfectly!

  26. July 7, 2011 3:15 pm

    I really enjoyed School of Essential Ingredients – and this one sounds just as good. Great review and i look forward to reading it myself one day 🙂

  27. July 7, 2011 3:25 pm

    I loved this book…

  28. July 7, 2011 4:14 pm

    I don’t have a copy of this yet, but I still have to read her other book that I won ages ago. I love short stories that connect and this sounds like one I would enjoy since I’m interested in those stories in which female friends support each other.

  29. July 7, 2011 4:41 pm

    While I don’t read a lot of short stories, I do love novels about female friendships so maybe I should give this one a try!

  30. July 7, 2011 5:03 pm

    I really loved this book, but I’m having a hard time coming up with a post about it!

  31. July 7, 2011 6:18 pm

    Oh yes yes yes I still haven’t read this but I am dying to! I have loved every review I’ve read of it and I’m so ready to get to it myself.

  32. July 7, 2011 8:13 pm

    I’ve seen this one around the blogosphere lately, but I haven’t slowed down long enough to really get a handle on the premise. This one sounds great!!! Very refreshing and definitely something to pull for. Will have to give this one a try.

  33. July 7, 2011 8:18 pm

    I enjoyed reading “School of Essential Ingredients” so I’m definitely out looking for Erica’s next release!

  34. July 7, 2011 8:30 pm

    Perfect and concise review as usual 🙂 This book was a delight indeed.

  35. July 7, 2011 8:38 pm

    A book that celebrates life and the friendships between women sounds like the perfect sort of read for me right now!

  36. July 7, 2011 8:44 pm

    It seems that everyone just loves this book!

  37. stacybuckeye permalink
    July 7, 2011 9:35 pm

    I’m looking forward to receiving this one in my mailbox any day now 🙂

  38. July 7, 2011 9:35 pm

    I absolutely will be making sure that I read this one…sounds fantastic!!

  39. July 7, 2011 10:37 pm

    I loved this book too. Your review reflected how I felt about the book.

  40. July 7, 2011 11:10 pm

    I really liked this one too.
    2 Kids and Tired Books

  41. July 8, 2011 12:33 am

    Wasn’t this a beautiful book!

  42. July 8, 2011 1:40 am

    I like how this focuses more on living your dreams than anything else. I can’t wait to find time to read it.

  43. July 8, 2011 12:00 pm

    I love your enthusiasm for this book. I like that Kate’s recovered from cancer and wants to celebrate her ‘new’ life. So many books about a character with an illness seem to be about coping with the cancer or disease and its impact on friends and family. I think this story sounds like a refreshing perspective on friendship, loyalty and life. I’m looking forward to reading this book!

  44. July 8, 2011 2:51 pm

    I like that they’re celebrating Kate’s recovery, and that each of the women is challenged by her task. Sounds like a really good one.

  45. July 9, 2011 10:12 am

    Sounds awesome. Great review.

  46. July 9, 2011 12:52 pm

    yes, a very inspiring book! Although, I haven’t yet attempted to confront my fears/challenges … it’s a slow process 🙂

  47. July 10, 2011 1:17 am

    I so enjoyed the fact that, because these four women didn’t all appear together in every story, we never had to endure that part of the story where the women get in a big fight and all of the old wounds are opened up.

  48. July 10, 2011 11:48 am

    Another one to add to my TBR list. Friendship at its best is what moves us most. I would move heaven and earth for my friends and family.

  49. July 11, 2011 1:16 pm

    Glad to see you really enjoyed this book. I loved The School of Essential Ingredients so I can’t wait to read this one.

  50. redladysreadingroom permalink
    July 11, 2011 4:21 pm

    I’m in the minority here, I loved the author’s first novel immensely! It was on my favorites list and I raved about it. This one, while it is a good concept, just didn’t work for me.

  51. July 11, 2011 9:28 pm

    Great review. I have heard so many wonderful things about this book. I can’t wait to get a chance to pick it up and read it myself. There are just so many great books I have been reading about this summer and it is so hard to find the time to fit them all in!

  52. July 12, 2011 4:51 pm

    Yay! I’m so glad you liked this one too! I was a great cast of characters.

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