Happiness for Beginners

Happiness for Beginners

Book - 2015
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"A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It's supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother's even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can't imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen's well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls. Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen's own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found."--
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Griffin, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781250047304
Characteristics: 312 pages ; 21 cm


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May 09, 2019


I've kind of read Center's books all backwards and haphazardly, but amazingly it's been the perfect approach to cementing her as an all-time favorite author. That's a big deal for me, because I really only have a few of those. I keep expecting one of her books to miss the mark, but it just hasn't happened yet.

As with every prior KC book, Happiness for Beginners was a battle for me to put down. This was a bildungsroman type of story centered around a protagonist who decides to attend a 3-week wilderness survival course in order to reset her life, post-divorce. During these three weeks, Helen addresses her relationships, past hurts, and resentments, all while unintentionally and honestly falling in love. While Helen could come across as judgmental and snappish at times, I loved her in spite of those flaws. This author has the incredible ability to create a character that if left to someone else, you might not really care for them. I find that the secondary cast in this story are what really helped to enhance Helen's character and her journey. I absolutely adored Jake as a love-interest, as well as the rest of the sometimes crazy survival group. Besides her and Jake's interactions, what touched me the most was Helen's relationship with her brother (Duncan) after her trip. It was very sweet and often funny to see how it evolved as Helen learned more about herself and the effects of her past. With wit, sensitivity, some adventure, and light angst, this story was joy-filled perfection.

Jun 17, 2018

Enjoy this author and her writing style. Good characters and enjoyed the story.

Jun 30, 2017

Cute love story in the wilderness. Helen is a very likable character as she tries to forge into a better stronger version of herself. Jake is a great sidekick. Good banter between them, along with humorous and touching moments. Easy read when you're looking for something lighthearted.

Jul 01, 2015

A fun, quick read. Center does not disappoint.


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