Coco's Reviews > Joy for Beginners

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
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's review
Nov 26, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: audio-books, general-fiction
Read from November 12 to 26, 2011

I can't really say that I know what this book was about. I mean, I know what the synopsis says, but there was zero plot or character development, and it had a disappointingly disjointed feel.

The book opens up at a "Victory Dinner" for Kate, who I suppose would be the protagonist if this was a cohesive story (which it's not), who has recently won her battle with breast cancer. Assembled at this dinner are Kate's closest friends. I would tell you how many, but I can't even remember their names...that's how unimpressive each of their individual tales were. At the dinner, Kate challenges each of them to face something difficult or scary in their lives. She assigns each a specific challenge and the rest of the book is devoted to each woman's story.

I listened to this on CD so I can't say whether each woman was given a chapter or a section, but except for a few instances there were no cross-over stories. Some of the women appeared in each other's stories, but for the most part they were exclusive, stand alone tales. Like the Canterbury Tales. But far less awesome.

In review: We have no linear plot. No significant character development. No cohesion. To make matters worse, there is also very little climax in any of the stories. The first challenge, I think it was Caroline's challenge to get rid of her ex-husband's books, was over before I realized she was ready to accomplish it.

It was impossible to care about any of these women, because we never got to *know* any of them. There was no platform for emotional investment, and the book felt like a flat series of even flatter short stories.

Furthermore, I listened to this on CD and did not care for the narrator at all. Her presentation straddled the line between wanna-be-vixen and upper-class pretension. It was poorly produced, as well, as there are several times in the story where the narrator's voice drastically changes, as if sections needed to be re-recorded at a later time and she either could not remember the voice she had used the first time around, or she had a nasty sinus infection.

Overall, it was a big disappointment.

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