Synopses & Reviews
A Library Journal
Best Book of the Year
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.
"In Bauermeister's sensual second novel, a party for a woman who has beaten breast cancer results in six friends reconnecting, not just to each other but also to parts of themselves they had long neglected. Admittedly an 'incongruous group,' with each woman at a different point in her life, Kate's friends agree that each 'will do one thing in the next year that is scary or difficult.' Kate selects tasks for each of her friends; undertaking the tasks will bring heartbreak, joy, and adventure to everyone. Bauermeister's (The School of Essential Ingredients) evocative prose creates a magical world where gray goo becomes 'forgiving dough' in an oven and a woman protects herself from loneliness by hiding in an unruly garden. Kate's well-meaning tasks, be they as grand as a trip to Venice or as banal as baking bread, push the friends toward much-needed awakenings. A book designed to both fill you up and make you hungry for life. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A joy to read. Bauermeister gives us characters who revel in the best of what life has to offer — loving relationships, fine food, good books, and travel — and she writes with keen observance and wry wit….Readers will be inspired to leap into their own lives with renewed gusto.” Stephanie Kallos, author of Sing Them Home
"Moving, touching, wonderfully written, inspiring to read." Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
“Bauermeister has created a cast of textured and nuanced characters who individually and as a group speak to what makes women interesting and enigmatic. Her prose is velvety smooth, revealing life at once mournful and auspicious. Joyful, indeed.” Library Journal (starred review)
“How transporting to live, even briefly, inside these women’s lives.” Laura Hansen, Bookin’ it
“Sensual…evocative….A book designed to fill you up and make you hungry for life.” Publishers Weekly
“Joy for Beginners is ultimately a celebration of life; a literary confirmation of the power of friendship.” Carol Cassella, author of Oxygen
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.
Shimmering with warmth, wit, and insight, Joy for Beginners is a celebration of life: unexpected, lyrical, and deeply satisfying.
About the Author
Erica Bauermeister is the author of the national bestseller The School of Essential Ingredients. She lives in Seattle with her family.