Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center
From Goodreads: 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.
My thoughts: I am definitely a sucker for those novels about people who go on a journey of self discovery. Eat, Pray, Love? I loved it. I think I like them so much because I want to do something similar, but can't at the moment.
Helen was a fantastic character. She was definitely flawed, but she understood her flaws and her self-reflection was great. Even though Helen was a 32 year old divorced woman, I really connected to her. Her feelings and thoughts are some that I've felt, too, so I found reading this book insightful. Plus, it was easy to lose myself in the beautiful setting.
Jake was also a great character. Definitely the epitome of the goofy, good looking guy who may be a little deeper than meets the eye. While I did really enjoy the romance in this book, what I really loved was the actual wilderness adventure and Helen's own personal journey.
The reason Helen decides to go on this wilderness course is because she needs to step out of her normal life and do something entirely different, in the hopes that it will change her. I've definitely felt like this on multiple occasions, but deep down I know that leaving my world for three weeks isn't the answer. It won't bring me lifelong happiness.
Helen starts out as a closed off woman who thinks she's too old to connect with the 'kids' on the trip. She's shy, nervous, and everything I know I would be. Change comes fairly quickly, though, and she's able to contribute to a group she didn't think she'd fit in with. Her growth is really fun to read about. She faces trials on the trail, but her self-reflection and how she deals with them are great. She surpasses her expectations of herself, as well as everyone else's.
This book talks a lot about happiness and what it truly means to be happy. Happiness doesn't have to mean that you're married with 2.5 kids, a big house, and a fluffy dog. Happiness can simply mean that you're content with yourself and what you have right now. Not what you don't have. Not what you want to have, and definitely not what everyone else has. I really liked the idea of keeping a 3 good things journal because happiness truly does come from the ordinary.
I liked Helen at the beginning of the book, but I really liked her by the end. Her growth and attitude change was inspiring. I love reading about people who finally realize their own worth and who decide to embrace it.
This was a 4 star read for me simply because I wanted more of the story.