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Best Friends: The Pleasures and Perils of Girls' and Women's Friendships Paperback – October 26, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Both the joy and the pain of friendship between adolescent girls and women are scrutinized in this interesting and accessible analysis. Psychologists Apter (Altered Loves: Mothers and Daughters During Adolescence) and Josselson (Revising Herself) show that the important role of female friendships in fostering a sense of self has been largely ignored in studies. Drawing on academic research, interviews with girls and women from a variety of backgrounds and the expertise of school counselors, the authors examine how females negotiate relationships that can include difficult periods of possessiveness, unrealistic idealization, envy and conflict. They also describe the benefits these relationships provide, such as pleasure, comfort, support and the nonjudgmental ear of a close friend. Apter and Josselson argue that these positive aspects contribute to psychological growth, and they recommend honest communication as the best way to strengthen female friendship.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

You wouldn't wish the best friends described by these psychotherapists on your worst enemy. To give them credit, Apter (currently a fellow at Cambridge Univ.; Secret Paths, 1995, etc.) and Josselson (Psychology/Towson State Univ.; Revising Herself, 1996), both experts in womens psychology, set out to add perspective to the recent spate of books and movies celebrating women's friendships. They seek a context ``that neither idealizes . . . nor denigrates'' such relationships. Girls and women can form rewarding and enduring connections, the authors say, but those relationships can also be hurtful and damaging. They discount recent research attributing preadolescent girls' diminishing self-esteem to societal pressure and suggest instead that ``the worst anguish . . . is learned in the neglected but indelible doings with girlfriends.'' What follows, despite the authors attempts at nuanced understanding of why girls fail each other and lessons to be learned, is a litany of anecdotes about cruelty, jealousy, fickleness, and fear. From here on the authors' own recollections and the agonies of Tanya, Wilma, Rose, Angie, Robin, Della, and Quinisha regarding ``the friendship wars'' takes over. Ninth graders Wendy and Janet spent every Saturday afternoon together, until one Saturday Wendy had to visit a ``sick aunt.'' Sure enough, riding a bus that afternoon, Janet spotted Wendy window shopping with schoolmate Sandra. (The story, incidentally, is told by a now 40-year-old Janet.) Thirteen-year-old Rowena listens in on a phone conversation between her best friend and another girl. Rowena is dissed. Clare Boothe Luce's The Women is but one stereotypical scenario that comes to mind. Boys are stereotyped as well, depicted as solving their relationship problems on the playing field. The authors do go on to suggest that female friendships provide support and understanding that can't be found elsewhere. The thesis that the turmoil of the adolescent friendship dance is valuable in both learning about relationships and defining self is valid, but this description of female best friends is likely to make misogynists of us all. (For a different look at women's friendships, see Nina Barrett, The Girls, p. 861.) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (October 26, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609804723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609804728
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,783,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Duaa Anwar on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book caught my attention from the very first page. I was surprised at its honesty at analyzing friendship among women of all ages. It contains in-depth detail about the ups and downs of friendships and explains why girls and women behave the way they do in their relationships with other women. I was able to relate to many of the incidents described and I was left with a better understanding of my past and current friendships. The book proved to be a companion in its own right as I was able to refer to it to strengthen my relationship with my best friend without sacrificing too much. The casual tone carried out throughout the book makes it suitable reading for all ages as well. Definitely recommended for anyone who values friendship.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
I found this book very insightful, not only as the father of four daughters, but for my own friendships as well. She has interviewed both young and adult women and has brought out many of the issues dealing with friendships -- the "real" friend, rejection, viewing ourselves in relationship to our friends (the "mirror"). We often do not understand that these friendship issues follow us throughout our entire lives. Many of the stories she tells are quite thought provoking and will "hit home". I highly recommend this book for anyone, man or woman.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I couldn't put this book down, it should be read by all women, young and old. We all can feel and understand what these girls and women are talking about.
As a teenager, we all remember those petty quarrels that ended great friendships, and now 20 years later your still doing the same thing.
Friendships are sensitive matters, and that's what makes them great. Who can you tell everything about yourself except a friend. And yes, when that trust is betrayed it does hurt, but look at your self, you have probably betrayed someone else.
So when your daughter or other young girl mentions that she had a fight with a friend, don't play down her grief or unhappiness. This is a time to look back on your own life and lend a guiding hand.
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