JOY FOR BEGINNERS by Erica  Bauermeister is a wonderful story about seven women who are friends.  Each chapter is about one of the women.   The beginning of the book finds all the women together for a victory party.   Kate has just done battle with breast cancer and has been given a clean bill of health.  Right before dinner, Kate’s daughter suggests they go on a trip white water rafting trip through the Grand Canyon.  This  is something Kate would never do. It just seems so reckless. With the urging of her friends, Kate agrees.  But with only one condition.  Since she didn’t get to choose her challenge, she gets to choose a challenge for each of her friends.


The challenges aren’t really physical or adventurous, but they do challenge each of them to face their deepest fears.  Each chapter introduces you to one of Kate’s friends and it tells some of their life so you can understand why Kate has picked the challenge she has for them.  The challenges make them face life, head on and while there are no story book endings for each of them, you understand why they are doing what she suggested.   The stories of each of them aren’t all tied up with a pretty bow at the end of the book either.  Erica leaves it up to you to think about what happens next.


I was so taken with this story.  Erica pulled me right in and never let me go. I was so wound up in each of their lives and while I didn’t connect to every one of them I couldn’t wait to finish the book to see how they all fared.  I found the story very comforting and warm.  If you have ever had girlfriends like these ladies, consider yourself very lucky.  JOY FOR BEGINNERS is a story of hope, joy, love, friendship, facing your fears, and getting second chances.  This is the first book I have read by Erica but after reading JOY FOR BEGINNERS, I feel like I made a life long friend in her.  She definitely   leaves you with so much to think about as far as your own life goes and facing your fears.


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  1. Great review! I’ve read Bauermeister’s The School of Essential Ingredients and really enjoyed that one. I’ll have to look into this one – it sounds quite similar in tone & style. And that reminds me that there is a sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients that I have on my shelf that I need to get to…

    Liked by 1 person

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