Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center
My rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

Happiness For Beginners by Katherine Center is an uplifting story about love, family, and self-discovery.

This book is part of My Winter 2024 Reading List.

My Overview

One year after her divorce, Helen is feeling lost and uninspired. When her brother (Duncan) suggests she go on a three-week wilderness survival course, she signs up. Helen knows Duncan’s not going on the adventure, but she doesn’t know that his friend Jake is. So, she’s both surprised and annoyed when she realizes that she’ll be stuck with him for weeks. Why? Duncan and Jake have been friends for years, and are both ten years younger than Helen. To her, Jake is just as young and annoying as her brother.

Soon enough, Jake divulges to Helen that he’s always had a crush on her. Now that she’s single, he’s hoping to have a chance at a relationship with her. Helen finds that absurd, and decides it’s best if they pretend to be strangers during the wilderness adventure. Her focus is on herself, and surviving three weeks in the wilderness. She’s hoping to fly under the radar, and become a stronger and more self-assured woman by the end of the journey. Instead, her lack of survival skills constantly puts her on the spot with the group. Fortunately, she finds support and friendship within the group … and even love.

I really enjoyed this multi-faceted story. As much as it’s a love story, the focus is on Helen’s growth and journey of self-discovery. I couldn’t help but root for her throughout the story. She’s experienced loss, pain, and disappointments throughout her life. This journey of self-discovery was perfect for her journey towards happiness. The platitudes about happiness were a bit much, but I guess I should’ve expected them based on the title 😁.

My Recommendation

If you’re looking for a hopeful and inspiring story, I recommend this one. Helen is likable and relatable, so it’s easy to immediately become invested in her story. I read the Kindle edition and listened to the audiobook at times, and recommend both.

As an aside, I watched the Happiness For Beginners movie after reading the book. It was good, but I enjoyed the storyline in the book much more. Some of the changes made for the movie, especially regarding Helen and Jake, deviated the plot of the story too much.

Have you read this book or watched the movie?