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Saturday, March 28, 2015

(24)Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center



Thirty-two year old Helen Carpenter feels like she needs to reboot her life.  She has been divorced for one year and just feels like her life is a complete mess.  Her bratty younger brother, Duncan, had told her about this wilderness survival course in the mountains of Wyoming.  And even though Helen is not really the outdoorsy-type of girl she is committed to spend three weeks trying to get some clarity on her future by hiking through the wilds of Wyoming.  The night before she leaves she runs by her brother's to drop of her dog. She runs into Duncan's childhood best-friend, Jake who happens to be headed to Wyoming,too.   Jake is no longer the goofy, awkward looking guy that she remembers and she is thrown a little off balance when he asks for a ride to Wyoming.  Their trip is mostly uneventful, but there was that one kiss that changes everything Helen thought she knew about Jake and what she wants.   The next three weeks are the most grueling of Helen's life and she pushes herself to extremes she never thought she could do.  And it feels exhilarating.  What will happen when they come down out of the mountains?  Will Helen's new outlook on life continue once she is back home?  And what part will Jake have in her life?

Happiness for Beginners was an absolutely delightful read.  Helen is an interesting character to get to know.  At the beginning of the book she just seems so ... lost.    On the trip out to Wyoming I was thrilled with the developments.  But once they got to Wyoming it was a different game all together.  Helen was the only member of their hiking party in her thirties, in fact their leader looked like he was about fifteen, but she didn't let the frat-boy humor get in her way enjoying the trip. She felt like a complete fish out of water, but still she kept going on.   I really liked how the author showed growth, not only for Helen, but everyone on the trip obviously matured by the time they got back to the lodge.  And then there was Jake.  Helen had demanded that they act like they did not know each other, which was a decision she later regretted.  There were several times that I found myself laughing out loud at Helen's wilderness ineptitude, because frankly, I could see myself doing the exact same things.  It really made the book a fun read.

Bottom line - Happiness for Beginners was a delightful read about a woman who is out to change her life.  It was touching,funny, and even a little bit heartbreaking.  Everything I love in a good book!

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