Book Review – “Joy for Beginners” by Erica Bauermeister

joyforbeginners  Title:  Joy For Beginners

Author:  Erica Bauermeister

Publisher:  Penguin Group


Synopsis (from

What would you do with a second chance at life?

Having survived a life-threatening illness, Kate celebrates by gathering with six close friends. At an intimate outdoor dinner on a warm September evening, the women challenge Kate to start her new lease on life by going white-water rafting down the Grand Canyon with her daughter. But Kate is reluctant to take the risk.

That is, until her friend Marion proposes a pact: if Kate will face the rapids, each woman will do one thing in the next year that scares her. Kate agrees, with one provision – she didn’t get to choose her challenge, so she gets to choose theirs. Whether it’s learning to let go of the past or getting a tattoo, each woman’s story interweaves with the others, forming a seamless portrait of the power of female friendships. From the author of The School of Essential Ingredients comes a beautifully crafted novel about daring to experience true joy, starting one small step at a time.


My thoughts:  I simply can’t say enough about this book.  I absolutely loved it.  I was entranced, moved, and just didn’t want to put it down (hence the reason I finished it almost in one sitting).

At a dinner celebrating Kate’s recovery from breast cancer, Kate promises to do something that scares her . . . whitewater rafting in the Grand Canyon and then in return gives each of her friends one thing to do in the next year that scares them, or is new, or is difficult.

Each chapter is dedicated to a different character and how they approach their task from Kate.  As the book continues you get to know each friend – Caroline, Marian, Ava, Daria, Sarah, and Hadley in much more depth and the wonderful ways in which their lives interconnect and reach out to each other.   The individual tasks are rather simple . . . yet you see how absolutely powerful these tasks are in each woman’s life and how they help each woman move forward to where they need to be.

I was very much reminded of Elizabeth Berg’s novels as I was reading Joy for Beginners.  It was beautifully written, almost lyrical.  You feel the struggles, lives, and growth of each woman as she explores herself and her friendships.  For me, it was the type of book that made me want to have a piece of paper near by as I wanted to jot down some beautiful quotes and phrases from the book.

This book truly is a book about the extreme power of friendships, the strength of women, finding yourself, exploring a new path, facing your fears, letting go, and yet starting fresh!

I think the book lends itself to a number of great questions as well:  What character do you identify most with in the Joy of Beginnnings?  What are you afraid to face and why?  What is something that is holding you back on your journey?

A beautifully written book of women’s strength and empowerment.  I can not recommend this book enough!  Go and read it now!

And remember,

Books Are Life,



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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction

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