Happiness for Beginners: A Novel by Katherine Center: Review

Happiness for Beginners: A Novel by Katherine Center: ReviewHappiness for Beginners: A Novel by Katherine Center
on March 24, 2015
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary, Love & Romance

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.

Alexis says…

There are very few books that have a clear message or perhaps a mantra that will resonate with me.  But, Happiness for Beginners left me with some new thoughts on life, a new perspective, and a daily exercise I plan on doing nightly. Can you say that about the last book you read?

Helen is on a mission. She is determined to shed the past year and all the crappiness that came with it. At thirty-two she is divorced, suffered a miscarriage, and is at a bit of a standstill in life. So she signs up for a three-week wilderness course, thanks to her younger brother Duncan, to help get her out of her funk.  The day before she leaves, she finds out that Duncan’s best friend, Jake will also be joining her on her trip, much to her dismay. The thing is, Jake, just like her brother is ten years younger than her and she has always disregarded him. She pretty much just thinks he’s her brother’s annoying friend. In fact, she has pretty much treated her brother like a nuisance his entire life as well.  So you can only imagine how excited she is when she finds out that Jake will be joining her on her journey-NOT!

After losing a bet to Jake (she soon realizes she had him pegged all wrong the past six years) on their road trip out to Wyoming they end up kissing.  After feeling a bit rejected she swears Jake to promise that they don’t know each other on this trip. But for Helen that was probably the wrong move as she soon finds out that everyone on their wilderness journey is ten years younger if not more. And to top it off, everyone falls in love with Jake instantly and leaves Helen out.  He literally becomes their “Prom King.” During their three-week long trek, there is much comic relief, soul-searching, and love that blooms. Yes, Helen and Jake are completely different people but they are perfect for each other…Helen just doesn’t realize it at the time. Jake on the other hand has been in love with her since he first set eyes on her.

This book really took me by surprise. I don’t know what I was expecting but it was even better then what I thought it would be. This book takes you on Helen’s of path to self-discovery and you can’t help but fall in love with the total transformation she goes through, Jake and all his awesomeness, the other people on the wilderness trek as well as sweet Duncan.  This book not only made me laugh out loud many of times (I love the author’s voice), I also gasped out loud, and yes I even shed some tears. The author has the ability to make something (i.e. camping) seem like such an amazing time when that is literally the last thing I would do. Ever.

If you are looking for a book not entirely focused on romance but also finding yourself, then please read this one-it’s that fabulous!


About Katherine Center

Katherine Center is the author of five novels about love and family, including The Bright Side of Disaster, The Lost Husband, and Happiness for Beginners. Her work has appeared in Redbook, People, USA Today, Vanity Fair, InStyle, and Real Simple. She is a graduate of Vassar College and the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. Katherine lives in Houston with her husband and two sweet children.