Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
Published by Putnam Adult, an imprint of Penguin
Kate is officially clear of cancer, but is now facing something potentially even more terrifying: whitewater rafting through the Grand Canyon with her daughter. When her friends gather to celebrate her recovery, though, they convince her that she should take advantage of the years returned to her and go for it. If Kate is going to face her fears, though, she is determined that the rest of her friends – a very heterogeneous group of women, who originally befriended one another during a baby holding circle for Sara and her twins.
Bauermeister is a master of connected stories that read more like a single, complete unit than disparate pieces. Her debut novel, The School of Essential Ingredients, followed a group of people taking cooking lessons with a very special woman. Joy for Beginners is even more wonderfully cohesive; all of the women are friends, so their lives intersect and intertwine in lovely, natural ways.
Part of what worked so well about Joy for Beginners is the fact that each of these women were at different stages of life, and in different places in their life. There is something for nearly every woman to identify with. Even better, however, is the fact that all of the women are real and genuine enough that the reader can empathize even with the ones whose lives least closely resemble her own.
An absolutely lovely book. Highly recommended.
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