Book Review: "Joy for Beginners" by Erica Bauermeister

Summary from 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.

Do you feel like your life is boring? Do you think that by doing something out of your comfort zone is something that you'd be willing to do to shake up your life? That's just what a group of friends do in this book as they honor their good friend who is a survivor of cancer. Each chapter is devoted to one of the seven women describing the adventure that Kate has picked for them and herself. Within each chapter, there is very little interaction between the women. In fact other than referencing that Kate has told them what to do, there is very little mention of the other women in each chapter at all. If you're looking for a women's fiction story where the characters learn and grow from one another, this is not the book for you. However if you enjoy stories where there are loose connections within separate stories, this is the book for you.

I found myself being drawn to some of the women more than others. Some I could relate with more, while others had really good adventures they were told to take. I liked seeing the characters change within their story no matter how big or small their adventure turned out to be. The one story I really enjoyed the most was Sara's adventure in Italy. As that is someplace that I am hoping I get to visit one day, I loved reading about her trip. She started off being very reluctant to leave behind what was familiar to her. It's only when she beings to let go and discover the unfamiliar when she truly beings to enjoy her surrounding and experience what Kate wanted her to get out of her trip.

This is my first book from Bauermeister that I have read. I am very impressed with her storytelling and writing style. Even though we only get to meet the women for a short amount of time, I felt that the words written were enough to get to know them. Each chapter gave a glimpse into the life of that particular woman with enough background knowledge to understand why they were feeling that way. This is particularly evident in Kate's own adventure. There is a lot of emotion in her story and I am sure that those who have been in her situation will share her feelings. It's a wonderful representation of being able to find joy. I am looking forward to going back and reading Bauermeister's previous books and looking forward to discovering more of her wonderful words.

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister is published by Putnum Adult (2011)

This ARC was provided for a blog tour with TLC Book Tours

I'm able to give away one copy of this book provided by the publisher. To enter, you must fill out the form below. This contest is open to US and Canada entrants only. Winner will be picked Wednesday June 15.

PLEASE use the form only to enter the contest. For any comments about the book, review, etc. please use the comments link at the bottom of the post. All information must be filled out correctly or else your entry will not count. (ie. you must use FULL name and list your mailing address). Your info will only be used for this contest and will be deleted after the contest is over.


  1. Oh my gosh, you must read The School of Essential Ingredients. I can't wait to read this book!

  2. Thanks for posting about this book. It sounds really interesting. I have never heard of this author but am now intrigued.

  3. Anonymous4:09 PM

    I tend to like stories where the characters are connected but don't necessarily interact, so I think I'd enjoy this one.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  4. I like the premise and I LOVE the title of the book. Haven't read anything by this author so I'd definitely be interested in having my name tossed in the hat as I'm curious.

  5. I hope I didn't enter this giveaway too late! This sounds like a fantastic book -- I definitely need to step outside my comfort zone more often. Thanks for the giveaway!


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