College friends Charlie, Sabine, Bess and Naomi had lost touch after graduation, but a chance encounter at their ten-year reunion leads to the four of them reigniting their friendship. Charlie, a yoga instructor with her own studio, convinces the other three to take a private class on Saturday mornings with her, and each woman has her own reason to reluctantly agree to the class. As each of them makes their way through the ups and downs of life, they find comfort and joy in these renewed friendships.
You might have read that summary and thought, “another book about women’s friendships?” I may have thought the same thing, except that I LOVE books about women’s friendships and will happily gobble them up weekly. Luckily for me, Balancing Acts really was an excellent read with a great cast of characters even though it is about the common subject of four women who are friends.
What made this book stand out for me was the growth and development of each of the four characters throughout the novel. Charlie started out heartbroken, unable to get over her recent breakup, and not being proud of herself for the huge positive changes she’d made in her life. Sabine was going through the motions of her life, not enjoying her “dream job” one bit and not allowing herself to ask out her crush for fear of rejection. Bess was completely cynical about relationships, not believing that a woman can be successful in her career and find love at the same time. And Naomi didn’t give herself enough credit for raising her son on her own and was too afraid to pursue her true passions for fear of failure. All four of them made enormous strides throughout the book and became better, happier, more confident and more fulfilled people. I loved going on this journey with all four of these characters – they were imperfect, they made bad decisions along the way, but ultimately they had good intentions and really developed as characters throughout the novel.
The way everything wrapped up at the end was a bit too neat for my usual tastes, I must admit. Although when I was reading it, I did have a smile on my face as I turned the last page. So maybe it was the perfect time for me to read the book, maybe I needed to read a happy ending on just that day. But if I think about it objectively, I can’t say that I love the ending. It was a sweet way to finish the book, but it was a little too perfect, in terms of mirroring actual life.
That being said about the ending, I did really like where Fishman took these characters’ lives. I like that each of their four stories were so different, yet they all had in common that they had somehow lost their way. They needed to find balance, and respect in themselves, and they needed to appreciate their own accomplishments – and yoga helped them do all that, and find their inner strength which all four had been missing. And after reading Balancing Acts, I am anxious to get back into doing yoga myself! (And if you’ve never tried yoga, this book will make you want to try it. I promise.)
So, when all is said and done, I really enjoyed Balancing Acts. The story was a bit sappy, especially towards the end, but it was exactly what I was looking for at the time I was reading it. The characters were well-developed and easy to like, and the story really came together well. Another story about women’s friendships that I can wholeheartedly endorse.