Janice Hildreth: Boise author pens a feel-group, book-club-inspired read

Boise author Heather Woodhaven takes a break from her usual genre of romantic suspense with this women’s fiction story set in Boise, to pen a book with a lot of heart.

The protagonist, Jeanine Phelps, is spread way too thin. She’s suffering from terminal exhaustion trying to juggle a full-time job, school-age children’s demands and schedules, and an equally discouraged husband she rarely sees or has time to talk to. She’s at the end of her rope. The only thing that keeps her sane, the one thing she can call her own, is her book club.

When Jeanine recognizes each of the women in the book club is facing her own problems and fears, she takes a daring step to suggest, “Maybe for once, instead of reading a book about women having these experiences and epiphanies maybe we, uh, actually do it.”

What was an off-hand, hopeful remark becomes the genus for a new mindset for these women. From their first horrified refusal, they gradually come around to considering her outrageous suggestion, to finally agree to work their way through the alphabet, for each letter choosing a new activity to participate in. Beginning with “A” for artistic, which was a painting class, and then to “B” for belly dancing, they embrace a whole new succession of experiences. With each new activity they find themselves stretched and challenged and growing. In the process, each woman experiences her own epiphany that enriches and changes her life.

Woodhaven portrays women we can relate to: imperfect, struggling, searching. I, in turns, experienced embarrassment, compassion, frustration and lots of laughter. The book is a fascinating journey of a coming-of-age group of thirty-something women.

You will relate to at least one, if not more, of the women in the book group as each one finds she was stronger than she had thought.

I’m glad that Woodhaven, moving to Boise a few years ago, found that book clubs were a great way for her to make friends, because her experience was the impetus for this book – a feel-good read.

My rating: 5 out of 5