Adam's Reviews > Joy for Beginners

Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
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's review
May 10, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: audiobooks-a-z
Read from May 04 to 10, 2012

Post Listen Review: Can I give this one negative stars? I complain a lot about the romance books I have to hear to listen to all the audiobooks in the library but at least those don't take themselves as seriously as this one does. It is called Joy for Beginners but it gave me pretty much the opposite emotion.

People in my generation tend to get a lot of flack for being self absorbed but I have to tell you that we have nothing on these women in this book. I will give a short plot summary and point out some of the parts in which I can back up my claim.

So the plot is pretty simple. A woman has survived breast cancer and has a dinner party to celebrate. Her daughter has given her a challenge to go white water rafting in the Grand Canyon which the woman is at least somewhat afraid of doing. The other women at the party think it is a great idea and that the cancer survivor should do it. She agrees but only if she can give each of the other women some kind of a challenge too. Sounds ok enough but there are some issues here.

I knew that I wouldn't like this book right away because someone brings a wooden salad bowl to a house party. If I have a house party, bring some burgers or cookies or something and leave the salad at home. Especially if I have just survived cancer and can now eat whatever I want again. (Apologies to anyone who is a huge fan of wooden salad bowls) But ok that is sort of a minor thing.

The woman has this party and she wants to call it a get together or something like that to which one of the women responds, "Let us call it a victory party. You wouldn't want to spoil our fun now would you?" Um let me think... did you survive cancer? No? Then let me call my party whatever the hell I want to.

Then because this woman has survived cancer she is supposed to have some kind of insight into the soul or whatever so she will choose exactly the right challenges so that the women will be "complete" or whatever. How self absorbed is she to think she should mess around with all her friends lives?

The challenges are mostly dumb. The first one is for this lady to clean out all her ex-husband's books so she can get on with her life I guess. She does it and then her friend goes, "You know what's going to be hard? The beach house." To which I want to say, shut up you have a beach house, life is not that bad. And she keeps thinking back to how her husband didn't used to be about money but now all his books are about selling stuff. How do you think you got the beach house???

The reason this woman's husband left her was cause he cheated on her but she turns to her friend at the beach house and asks her why she thought people broke up. The friend says that "love is like those waves. You have to wait for it to hit you over and over. People just forget to wait." That is not what love is like at all. Love feels (at least to me) like a fact. I don't sit around waiting for a wave of love to hit me as I look at my wife, it's already there and always will be. I know I love my son, not a question of waves. That was a horribly bad metaphor.

Then there was a challenge to clean up a garden. They say in there somewhere you can tell more about a person from their garden than from any other way or something. Hello what??? Not everyone I know has a garden. In fact most people I know don't have gardens. And here is what you can tell about me from my being in a garden. I need an anti-histamine stat.

There is a challenge about making bread. What that really should have been called was date this guy who is a baker and will help you get over your mother issues.

A semi-reasonable challenge was to get a tattoo. I don't really remember what happened there cause I tuned out of that story mostly. She got the tattoo though.

Another challenge was traveling. That one should have been called, go to a foreign country, get kissed by some random guy and then you will realize you are more than just a mom. I didn't notice her telling her husband about getting kissed though. A bit unfair since the guy was all for her going.

The three day walk challenge seemed like the only one that fit cause the woman's sister never saw her when she was sick so she had to do the three day walk. But the sister asks her if she was given that challenge to punish her. The cancer survivor says no and then the sister says, then you are not angry with me? And she says, I didn't say that. So to me that means that she was punishing her. Not that she didn't deserve it. But be honest.

And finally the woman who survived cancer went white water rafting.
She gets angry and upset at one point and all her emotions come out but then she feels that the water "must be coming out of her" as it rushes along. That is the most self absorbed thing I ever heard. You think you are a river? The river does not care about you. It will gladly kill you or leave you alone, the water does not come from you. Sorry you had cancer and you have every right to be angry but you are not a freaking river!

To sum up, I am not in favor of anyone having cancer but just because you have had it doesn't mean you know everything. And if you can afford beach houses and gardens and foreign travel and whatnot, you are probably not as bad off as you think you are in the first place.

I am so looking forward to the next book where someone gets murdered. It will bring me a lot more Joy I am sure.

Pre-listen Guess: I wanted to sign up for advanced mirth but apparently this book is a prerequisite.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Kate This is the best review of this book I've read. Couldn't agree more.

Carol E. Your review cracked me up. I mostly agree, even though I gave the book 3 stars. I think I was being kind.

message 3: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Keesing I've just finished reading this book. It irritated me. The Woman challenged to get a tattoo has her nails painted a gaudy purple. She goes to the supermarket, strangers see the nails and comment on them. A young man stocking shelves says "Cool", The checkout operator notices her hands and asks her if she's getting divorced. WHAT? I guess bold nails mean something in conservative America?... Then these Women all have their 'Journey' of discovery. I would have liked it way better if one didn't do what was asked. Backed out, flat out said "Nah I'm not going to learn how to freakin' crochet, I'm gonna sit here and drink rum cocktails instead, get a little wasted and listen to 'Keb 'Mo."

Montessahall Great review! I too didn't like this
book. As a survivor of cancer
twice, I couldn't relate to
the "been to the mountain"
arrogance of Kate. Overall,
the challenges and the
characters were boring.

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