Within the first few chapters of Happiness for Beginners, you know exactly where it’s going. Well, you know exactly where it’s going to end up, but, truthfully, you actually may be surprised how it gets there.
I really enjoy Katherine Center’s books. She writes feel-good love stories that are clever, funny, and a bit unexpected. This one is no different. Helen is a thirty-something-year old woman trying to shake herself out of a mental and emotional funk a year after suffering through a miscarriage and a divorce. She decides to go on a three-week outdoor survival adventure through some of the roughest terrain in Wyoming. Although she originally intends to go on this journey alone, her little brother’s best friend ends up taking the course with her.
Is it believable? Not entirely. And I do have to agree with other reviewers that Center tends to introduce big issues, big obstacles, (mental illness, a serious degenerative disease, divorce, child abandonment) without realistically addressing them by the novel’s end. Nonetheless, there can be no doubt that Center is just so darn good at creating an engaging and funny story filled with loveable, warm, and layered people.
And that’s why you read her books, why you should read this book: for the characters. And for the back and forth between them. I love how each person is unique and charming in his or her own way–yet I can see how they all fit together. I can see how they complement each other and why they are in each others’ lives. These are people I would want to spend time with in real life, so it is more than fun watching their stories intersect and unfold on the page.
This book is entertaining, EASY reading. There are some nuggets of wisdom here and there–and thank you, Center, for introducing me to the poetry of Pablo Neruda–but, for the most part, this book is light and fluffy. You’ll breeze through it in a day and feel better about life when you are through. It may not be the deepest book out there, but Happiness for Beginners sure is a satisfying read.