Book Review: Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister – plus, a giveaway

Title: Joy for Beginners
Author: Erica Bauermeister
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: ARC from the publisher for TLC Book Tours
First line: Life came back slowly, Kate realized.

As six women gather to celebrate their friend Kate’s victory over cancer, they have no idea that the simple challenges Kate assigns them will change their lives.

Erica Bauermeister writes some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read. I know that sounds like a huge exaggeration, but I literally teared up over and over again while reading this book – not because of sadness, but because of the way she writes of the beauty in the simplest things we encounter every day. I adored her first book, The School of Essential Ingredients, and, amazingly, she made me love this one even more. Joy for Beginners follows the same format, with each chapter telling one woman’s story. Because they are all friends, their stories are interwoven with each other, making for a more cohesive storyline than Bauermeister’s first book.

The characters’ experiences span the seasons and trials of a woman’s life: illness, divorce, adultery, mother issues, singleness, and more. As the women took care of Kate during her cancer treatment, she came to know them in a way that not many people know each other. When they encourage Kate to accept her daughter’s invitation to go white-water rafting – a prospect that terrifies her – she agrees on the condition that each one of them overcome a challenge in her own life, a challenge that Kate gets to choose.

Each woman’s chapter encompasses a journey, sometimes literally traveling, other times journeying through the steps she has been afraid to take, steps that Kate intuitively knew were needed for that woman to heal, to move on, to embrace life more fully. I adored the way the author portrayed female friendship, the way it can be fragile at times, and yet withstand some of the harshest storms life can send our way.

Joy for Beginners is an achingly beautiful story of the way friendship and love can help one step outside of the box of her own life and experience joy. Highly recommended.

The publisher is offering one copy of Joy for Beginners to one of my readers.

~ This giveaway is open to readers in the US and Canada.

~ One entry per person, please.

~ To enter, please fill out the form below.

~ All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. PST, Friday, June 24, 2011. I will draw a winner on Saturday, June 25th (approximately). 🙂


This entry was posted in contemporary fiction, giveaways and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Book Review: Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister – plus, a giveaway

  1. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion

    I don’t think I’ve read a single bad thing about this book. I’ll be reading it soon!

  2. I’ve been dying to read Erica’s books since the first one came out. If I don’t win this one, I will definitely buy it (as soon as it comes out in paperback)!

    This is a great review, by the way!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Avis – I hope you win! I know there are some other giveaways going on. Click on the link to TLC Book Tours at the top and then look on the sidebar for the Joy for Beginners cover. Clicking on that should take you to a list of all the bloggers on the tour, and I know some of them are having giveaways – so you could increase your chances!

  3. Lisa Munley says:

    Great review! I’m so glad you enjoyed it (I did too!) Thank you for being on the tour!

  4. Amused
    Twitter: amusedbybooks

    Books about women’s friendships are always some of my favorites. This sounds like a wonderful and moving book!

  5. Beth Hoffman says:

    Terrific review! And thanks so much for the chance to win.

  6. Marleen Kennedy
    Twitter: Marleen (Meentje63)

    Oh bummer. I completely understand why the competition has geographical boundaries, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. This book sounds great and I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on it overhere.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Marleen – I’m really sorry the giveaway isn’t open internationally. 🙁

  7. Anna says:

    I cannot wait to read this book! The beauty of her writing and her vivid descriptions are why I loved The School of Essential Ingredients so much.

  8. Wow, you liked this better than her previous book?! That’s really saying something!

    I’m so glad this book turned out to be such a great fit for you. Thanks for being a part of the tour.

  9. Colleen Gorman
    Twitter: booksnyc

    This sounds like such an interesting premise for a book!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Colleen – I liked the way she wrote it – it really showed the connection between the women, while highlighting each one.

  10. Pingback: Erica Bauermeister, author of Joy for Beginners, on tour June 2011 | TLC Book Tours

  11. Pingback: Life in Review: “Joy for Beginners” by Erica Bauermeister + Giveaway! « Life In Review