Rather Be Reading » A Blog by Two Busy Girls Who Always Find Time For a Each Other

Masthead header

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center | Estelle Reviews

Happiness for Beginners by Katherine CenterHappiness for Beginners by Katherine Center ( web | tweet )
Published on March 24, 2015 from St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 320
Target audience: Adult
Keywords: divorce, nature, new beginnings, family

Summary: A year after her divorce, Helen decides to go way out of her comfort zone — she’s trusting her irresponsible little brother with her beloved kinda mean dog and embarking on a wilderness survival course. She’s ready for a fresh start but a familiar and unexpected addition to the wilderness team in addition to all the time spent in nature, turns the trip into a different kind of adventure.

Happiness for Beginners is one of the only books where I can remember seeing almost an unanimous reaction amongst readers: they could not stop and read it in one sitting. I’m joining those ranks. Mostly. If I had just started it a little earlier, I would have finished it in only a few hours. What’s the mysterious formula for a book of this caliber?

In this case: snappy, fresh dialogue; a main character you feel invested in; an unbelievable setting.

Like Helen, I’m not much of a nature girl. I have never gone camping. If I did, it would have to be the “fake” kind with showers and toilets. It’s brave as hell for Helen to go off for three weeks with a backpack full of nothing (no shampoo), one book of her choosing (!!), and do something so out of her normal routine. When life isn’t looking great and you have no idea where to turn, there’s nothing better than shaking it up in an enormous way, right?

Most of the people participating in the wilderness course have had some experience and are in a different age bracket than Helen. She’s feeling lonely at home with her singledom and now she’s thrown in with a bunch of people who look at her like she’s the old person. (She’s only 32.) She has to work to make connections with people while attempting not to die out in the wilderness. The pressure! Even though she’s feeling weak and incapable, Helen learns to feel empowered and rediscovers her confidence — by getting to know new people, opening herself up to strangers, and getting zen with nature.

Two characters I love: Jake — her youngest brother’s best friend and a surprising revelation — and Grandma Gigi — a lady who still knows how to have fun and is beyond wise. Helen is forced to come to terms with the truths surrounding the hierarchy of her family, as well as — gasp — think of her younger brother as a real person and not just the annoying thorn in her side. It can be difficult but it’s amazing how learning our siblings are real people with lives and feelings too can give us such clarity.

An unexpected gem, I’d suggest Happiness for Beginners to any Bethany Chase or Liza Palmer fan — they make for a trifecta of smart, thoughtful women’s fiction. We need more books where we see a character facing moments of vulnerabiity and bravery in unexpected yet realistic situations. We can all find a little bit of ourselves in Helen and her story. This is a book to add to the “let’s buy for everyone you ever talked to” list and meant to have a long life on my most trusted bookshelf.

Rather Be Reading Buy It Icon Add HAPPINESS FOR BEGINNERS to Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Buy on B&N

An early copy of this book was supplied by the publisher. Thanks!

December 31, 2015 - 8:00 am

What This Book Gave To Me, Estelle - […] Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center seems like the logical place to start. The main character needs to escape the blah realities of her current situation and embarks on something totally out of her comfort zone — which means she sucks at it for awhile but learns about her so much along the way. Halfway through the year, I started a new workout and nutrition regime, and surprisingly, fell in love with yoga. It’s not the same as hiking in the great outdoors for a number of days on end, but it definitely felt like it. Feeling strong, seeing my body change, and realizing I had discovered a habit that actually calmed me? Priceless. […]

November 25, 2015 - 12:02 am

Hannah & Cassie's Holiday Gift Guide - […] books I have read this year.  In addition, it comes with high praise from: Myself, Hannah, Estelle, Rachel, and Kelly.  Need I say more? Gift it to any woman on your list who is a reader. […]

May 31, 2015 - 8:01 am

It's a Wrap | MAY We Remember You Kindly, Estelle - […] Kissing in America by Margo Robb / Estelle: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine […]

May 26, 2015 - 6:18 pm

Lucy - You make this sound amazing! I am so not an outdoorsy camping type but I think it’s a great idea for a book setting. Can’t wait to check this one out!

May 24, 2015 - 9:04 am

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - After seeing you mention this on Goodreads I put a hold on it from the library and I think I’m finally #1 or 2 in line and I’m so excited to read it! Even more now after reading your review.

May 24, 2015 - 7:49 am

Leah - There’s been SO much love for this book recently and I swear I had no idea it was fiction until now! The title and cover SCREAM memoir to me!

(& I’m all about fake camping too, E!)

May 21, 2015 - 4:16 pm

Alexa S. - I basically just want to say “YES! YES! YES!” to this entire review, because you’ve captured in a lovely way how great Happiness for Beginners is. It’s definitely a quieter adult contemporary, but it was still so, so moving and utterly compelling 🙂

May 21, 2015 - 9:44 am

Maria @ A little adventure - Oh this sounds like a great book!

I’m attracted to it from the title alone, as I’ve been on my own little quest to find happiness this year.

I like the element of finding a balance with nature that you mentioned, and it definitely sounds like a book with interesting characters. I’ll keep an eye out for it for sure!

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*

Back to Top|Subscribe via RSS|Subscribe by Email