Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

I promise I'll get back to posting more reviews here, but I've had a tough time getting out of my reading rut. Yes, STILL. Sigh.

However, I just finished Katherine Center's newest and loved it, so I wanted to share.

In Happiness For Beginners, Helen is on unsteady footing after her divorce, so she decides to shake up her life and take a wilderness survival course, even though she's not the least bit outdoorsy. From the Booklist review:

The camaraderie of the shared experience and the difficult physical and mental challenges of back-country hiking bring Helen new wisdom. The quiet allows Helen to reach deep inside herself, to face difficult questions and answer them truthfully. Center has written a wonderful story, a fast-paced read with sharp, perfectly written dialogue. Her newest does exactly what we want a good novel to do, introduce us to characters who engage us and take us on a journey. 

I have to admit, I was unsure about this one, because if you had a list of all the things I'd be interested in doing...hiking and/or taking a wilderness survival course would be near the very bottom of that list. So I was afraid that I might not be able to get into the book. Well. Knowing how much I've enjoyed Center's sense of humor and realistic characters in her other novels, I should have realized that it wouldn't matter. Center writes in a way that lets you really connect with the characters and feel like you're right there in the story. As I always say, the main reason I love WF is because I like to read about familiar people and situations. And Center captures real life so well, I have to wonder if she really just takes things that have actually happened to her. (Example: when Helen's high school ex-boyfriend exclaims, upon seeing her again 15 years later, "You got better looking!" and then repeats it a few minutes later...I swear I could picture that actually happening.) And the scene where Helen "teaches" Jake to kiss is, frankly, marvelous.

Heck, I laughed, I cried, etc. Good stuff.

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