My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Kate survived the monster. Through treatment, good friends an chemicals, she beat breast cancer. Now her twenty-three year old daughter wants her to run the Grand Canyon's Colorado River - an avoidable risk. At her best friends' urgings, she concedes with a caveat - they will each take on a challenge dreamed up by Kate.
Each chapter is a stand-alone short story that introduces each character in depth, including past and present struggles. Similarly, each friend, save Ava, has spent countless hours during Kate's illness helping her through. Kate remembers each of the important conversations she had with the women. This is how she comes up with their challenge.
The author does an exceptional job detailing the reasons women need other women. She also honestly writes with naked exploration of middle age and how it feels to be about forty to 55 and struggles with the angle of the hill. So articulate! Also, the detail in descriptions of the Colorado River awakened long dormant memories of my own experiences. It is wet. It is cold. The nights are still and the stars are bright. The comraderie among river rats is rampant. Camp seemed to always teeter within earshot of the next big rapid which struck a chord of terror even 28 years later.
Each character needs a specific hole filled. How their healing occurs is through their given challenge.
Hadley - her needs and longing so strong to tame her grief learns to garden.
Marion - never a clear voice but with stories to tell must get a tattoo.
Caroline - lonely with her husband leaving her and her son going to college, must rid her house and summer house of all of his books, his stories he casually left behind.
Ava - afraid to feel, completes a 3 day cancer walk.
Sara - lost herself in her role and must travel alone.
Writing style is concise and beautiful. She articulately describes the experiences women have. Loved it.