Joy for Beginners is Erica Bauermeister’s newest novel, releasing on June 9, 2011 and it is a treat for the senses! I read The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister a few years back and I absolutely adored it. I find that a lot of the time the author simply can’t write another one that is just as good or better but Erica has done just that! Joy for Beginners is a beautifully written novel that, with every page turned, evokes your sense of smell, taste and sight. It is delightful!
Kate is a breast cancer survivor. She’s had a rough go of it with treatment but she’s on her way to being whole again. Her college age daughter Robin just wanting things to be normal again talks Kate into taking a white water rafting trip with her. While this isn’t exactly what Kate would consider normal, she doesn’t outright say no to the trip either.
Meanwhile, her six best friends arrive to spend an evening celebrating Kate’s victory over the cancer. Kate, thrilled to have a second chance at life, decides to challenge them all; she will do something that terrifies her – white water rafting – but, they too have to agree to do something they have always swore to never do. The catch is though that Kate will be choosing what that adventure will be for them.
Each chapter of the novel is devoted to each of the women as they tackle whatever adventure Kate has chosen for them. Unbeknownst to them is that Kate hasn’t thought these adventures up on a whim. She chose them after careful consideration and countless hours of listening to her friends when they were all busy taking care of her during her treatment. It’s funny how a person will open up and really reveal more intimate details of themselves when they feel as though that person may not be there in the future to share these things with. That being said these tasks that Kate sets out for the other women are all things that will ultimately teach them something about themselves and what they may have been hiding from.
This novel really takes us into these women’s lives through their own portion of the story and then that of their friends. While there are six other women, I really connected with only a few of them. The biggest one being Kate. While reading her portion of the story I shed a few a tears in remembrance of one of my best friends that passed from breast cancer. While on the trip with her daughter, all the women decide to skinny dip. At first Kate is scared because she’s had a mastectomy but she pulls down her walls and removes her clothes as well and joins in. The author did such a good job of portraying those feelings that go along with having such a big part of you changed forever.
The other character that I really liked was Hadley. She lost her husband in an accident after being married for only eighteen months. The task she was given essentially was one that would force her to bring down the walls she has built up around herself trying to hide from the pain of her loss. Hadley just really spoke to my heart although I can’t pinpoint why. Maybe it’s because I can relate to those feelings of just wanting to hide after a loss of a loved one takes you and knocks you down.
What I loved about this novel is the friendship that these women had. When one of them had twins the others all got together to help her and then when Kate was diagnosed with cancer they were all there to help her with everything from taking her to her treatments to just sitting with her. The author takes us on a journey through these women’s lives that really shows us how each of them has had a part in each of the others lives and enriched it in their own way. We can see how the power of friendship – just having that love and care – can go a long way to healing a body and a heart.
As with Erica’s first novel that was deliciously descriptive, Joy for Beginners follows suit. The descriptions of books, scenery, tending a garden, getting a tattoo…to the simple act of placing something yummy in your mouth is related to us in such a way that you feel sure you are right there in the moment and it’s wonderful. Erica Bauermeister won my heart with The School of Essential Ingredients and she’s done it again with Joy for Beginners which is such a beautiful novel that you will want to sit back with a cup of tea and just relish the words on each page.
There are so many passages in this novel that would be lovely to share but you’ll just have to read it for yourself to experience those. I will share one of my favorites though here with you…
I read Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister for her book tour with TLC Book Tours. I’m the first tour stop so be sure to check out the other tour stops featuring Erica’s book after mine. Take a look at Erica’s website and find her on Facebook. You can read an excerpt of the novel here and since this would make a fantastic book club pick there is even a Reading Guide to help your group along. Your own copy of Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister can be purchased here in the US and here in Canada.
I have one copy of Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister to share with my readers. To enter…
- For 1 entry leave me a comment with your email address to contact you should you win (no email, no entry).
- For 2 entries, follow my blog. If you already do, thanks, and please let me know so I can pass on the extra entry to you as well.
- For 3 entries, blog or tweet this giveaway to spread the word!
This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only (no PO boxes) and I will be drawing for the winner on Saturday, June 25/11. Good luck everyone!
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