Berkley Trade|June 5, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-425-24742-6
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 with one small step at a time.
Kate is home again after just surviving breast cancer. To celebrate she invites six of her closest friends to come and share in an intimate dinner. Kate was hit very hard when she discovered she had breast cancer.
The evening of the dinner arrived and each friend: Daria, Ava, Sara, Marion, Caroline, and Hadley each arrived at Kate’s door with some part of the meal. While in the kitchen, one of her friends sees a pamphlet on the fridge about white-water rafting in the Grand Canyon. She brings it to the table with her and asks Kate to explain. Kate tells the group that her adult daughter is going on the trip. The women all agree that it’s a fabulous opportunity and think that Kate should go with her to celebrate her second chance at life. It takes a little bit of convincing but Kate finally relents and agrees to go with her only after Marion declares that if Kate is going to be brave enough to white-water raft, then each of the six of them will do one thing in the next year that scares her. Of course, Kate thinks this is a marvelous idea and adds that since she didn’t get to choose her challenge, she herself will pick everyone else’s challenge.
I found I could relate better to some characters better than others. My favourite challenge was Sara’s trip to Italy as I’ve learned a lot about that country, love Italian food, have a long-standing pen pal there, and would love to visit someday myself.
Joy for Beginners is a great representation of being able to find joy and learning to feel and embrace that joy. It’s a story of love, friendship, heartbreak, hope, and remembering that life is for living especially if given a second chance.