Balancing Acts
by Zoe Fishman
(Harper, $13.99, PG) ISBN 978-0-06-171180-0
Add yoga to the ever increasing list of topics (knitting, scrapbooking, cooking, etc.) that have been prominently featured in the Chick Lit genre’s attempt to reinvigorate itself through niche marketing.  Balancing Acts uses the familiar story framework of four slightly diverse women, and sets it in a yoga studio.  The result is moderately enjoyable, but does nothing to distinguish itself from the pack.

Charlie left behind her Wall Street career several years ago to open a yoga studio with her two friends, Felicity and Julian (one is black and wise, the other is gay and fabulous).  She approaches her ten year college reunion with trepidation, but realizes it might be an opportunity to drum up some business for the studio.  She’s pleasantly surprised to run into three women she knew slightly in college, and even more thrilled when they all agree to participate in a 6-week beginner’s yoga class. 

Over the next six weeks the women laugh, cry and bond while also learning about tree poses, sun salutations and downward facing dogs.  Charlie has been afraid to let herself become emotionally involved with anyone since a devastating breakup with her former boyfriend.  Sabine, who edits romance novels, is frustrated with her job but has given up on her own writing career.  Single mother Naomi designs websites but has also forsaken her original passion, photography.  Bess writes for a gossip magazine but dreams of being a serious journalist, perhaps by exposing the shattered dreams of her new yoga classmates. 

The novel alternates between the lives of the four women and the weekly yoga classes where they all come together.  The descriptions of the yoga poses and movements are interesting, but the notion that yoga helps the women become more open and balanced could have used an infusion of subtlety.  Debut novelist Fishman’s frequently clunky prose and leaden dialogue doesn’t help, although there are a few standout humorous scenes that indicate that she has potential to develop into a stronger writer.  There are romances, secrets, and health scares, but nothing that Chick Lit readers haven’t seen before. If, like me, you read a large quantity of books and don’t mind one that is “just okay” every once in a while, you might want to add Balancing Acts to your To Be Read pile.  If you’re looking for something unique and striking, this book will disappoint you. 

--Susan Scribner

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