Summary from Goodreads: Rachel Braun was the inspiration to her group of friends, the one who lived each day to the fullest - and the one whose life was cut tragically short. Upon her untimely death, Rachel left letters for her three best friends challenging them to face their biggest fears. Sarah, an international relief worker, must travel half way around the world to track down the only man she ever loved. Stay-at-home mom Kate must confront her fear of heights by skydiving and soon finds that her new hobby is affecting her once-tranquil marriage. And Jo, a media mogul voted "least likely to breed," is given the most terrifying assignment of all: caring for Rachel's orphaned and grieving little girl. Even as these women mourn Rachel's passing, her legacy lives on and their lives are enriched by a friend who, in many ways, knew them better than they knew themselves.
What would you do if your best friend died but left you a letter telling you what she wanted you to do? Would you be able to follow through with her last wishes? I personally would have to wait and see until I was in that situation before I could give you my answer. It would have to depend on what it was and how close of a friend I was to that person. Luckily for Rachel, her three friends followed her orders and in turn was granted the peace and hope that she left for them in those last requests.
I felt that it was unfair of Rachel to put so much responsibility on Jo, without letting her know in advance. It would have been one thing if she knew that she would be taking care of Rachel's daughter but to let her know unexpectedly especially when she already has a life planned out? I thought this was not good planning on Rachel's part at all. I felt that if she truly cared about her daughter's well-being, she should have talked to Jo beforehand to let her know. I mean, what if Jo couldn't have done it? What if she became financially unable or physically unable to take care of Grace? From what other characters said about Rachel, it sounded as if she did everything spur of the moment and was not organized. She's very lucky that Jo did end up fulfilling her request but at the same time, it was not the best way at all for Rachel to have handled this.
Kate's adventure involved so much more than just jumping out of a plane. She finally rediscovered herself and I'm really glad that she found her voice again. I was glad to see that she finally spoke out to her husband to let him know how she really felt about everything. I want to see marriages in books where the couple is able to effectively communicate with each other and I was glad to see it finally happen with these two. Granted, they went through a bit of an extreme to do it, but still it happened.
Between the three friends, I would have to say that Sarah's task was the easiest. I mean all she had to do was, just as Jo said, "All Rachel asked was that you Google a guy?!" I understand all the emotional drama that went into doing this and the consequences and incidents that happened afterwards. But still even after finding out about Sarah's past, I found her story to be the least intriguing for me. I didn't really like her character nor did I like Colin's at all after what he did. I guess Rachel knew what was best for her friend but compared to Jo and Kate's tasks, hers was kind of a let down.
This book reminded me a bit of Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister except this time the person doing the asking is dead. I thought it was a bit unrealistic that Rachel knew EXACTLY what her friends needed but I'm willing to suspend disbelief for the sake of the book. Overall it's a good women's fiction read and I believe it will go well in book club discussions. I think that a lot of women will find themselves in one of the four friends and therefore be able to share in the experiences that they did. The book is about taking risks and there are many of us out there that sometimes need to follow that advice.
The Proper Care and Maintenance of Friendship by Lisa Verge Higgins is published by 5 Spot (2011)
This review copy was provided by the publisher