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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unusual Memoir of Depth
I read this book as an Advanced Reader's Copy and have had to wait months to comment. I am delighted to see it getting some great reviews as it comes out to the world today. There is so much to admire here. It's unlike any memoir I've read, a story of one life told through the memoirist's examination of her relationship to others. Full of insight into both herself and the...
Published 22 months ago by Truck Lover

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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgent author describes her friendships in exhaustive detail
Like the author, I was born in 1965, went to summer camp, boarding school, lived with a French family and had many roommates and friends throughout childhood, college and working years. Like the author, I am a mother and shared and continue to share friendships through playgroups and postpartum, toddler years and birthday parties. I do not, however, think that makes a...
Published 22 months ago by J. S. Benjamin


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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Unusual Memoir of Depth, January 9, 2013
This review is from: She Matters: A Life in Friendships (Hardcover)
I read this book as an Advanced Reader's Copy and have had to wait months to comment. I am delighted to see it getting some great reviews as it comes out to the world today. There is so much to admire here. It's unlike any memoir I've read, a story of one life told through the memoirist's examination of her relationship to others. Full of insight into both herself and the nature of friendships, SHE MATTERS feels, like the best memoirs, much bigger in scope than the individual events it takes up. It's also beautifully written, like all of this writer's work, with an unflinching eye toward her own complexities, even when they are difficult or potentially shameful. Were that every memoir as honest, bracing, well-crafted, and nuanced as this one. Highly recommended.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgent author describes her friendships in exhaustive detail, January 27, 2013
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This review is from: She Matters: A Life in Friendships (Hardcover)
Like the author, I was born in 1965, went to summer camp, boarding school, lived with a French family and had many roommates and friends throughout childhood, college and working years. Like the author, I am a mother and shared and continue to share friendships through playgroups and postpartum, toddler years and birthday parties. I do not, however, think that makes a book for me...or her. It seemed very self-indulgent to describe and reveal personal, intimate details of all of these friendships. I think the idea was that others can see themselves in the specifics she lays out but, by the end, I really started not to care (especially by the time we got to Flora, the masseuse). I think she has some lovely images and turns of phrase but I thought I was going to run out and buy this book for all of my close female friends. Alas, I am not.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Feel Bad for the Friends!, February 1, 2013
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This review is from: She Matters: A Life in Friendships (Hardcover)
YIKES!! I thought this would be a great book about female friendships. Unfortunately, it was all about the author's multiple needs. I'm not sure there are enough friends in the world to fill the void the author seems to need filled. To be fair, there were bursts of good writing in the book. However it was difficult to get beyond the cadre of friends who all appeard to have the lifeblood sucked out of them in the name of "friendship". One has to wonder what the females profiled think about the author's assessment. Many sounded like they had the patience of Job and were kind beyond belief. I would guess they have their own tales to tell! I would not recommend the book.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Repetitive, February 3, 2013
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All of the author's relationships seemed the same...high expectations fading away to the reality of human flaws and disappointments. As a reader I wanted her to figure out that you can only expect so much from friends.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exquisite recollection..., January 10, 2013
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This review is from: She Matters: A Life in Friendships (Hardcover)
Sonnenberg's recollection of friendships she has shared, past and present, is blatantly honest and humorous. She uses vivid colors that saturate her canvas as she paints a picture we probably have all seen before whether we'd like to admit it or not. If you look up the word "friend" in the dictionary, it provides several definitions. Each one perfectly fitting, depending on which friend one may be referring to of course. One defines a "friend" as a member of the same nation or party. Now, personally, I consider some of my co-workers friends just because we share the same office, a nation. But, I can recall quite a few harrowing days that I know I wouldn't dare reach out to them for advice or looking for a shoulder to cry on. Another describes "friend" as a person who is on good terms with one another, one who is not hostile. The author has told a couple of stories where she is on good terms witha friend, but she described them to be people who are almost the complete opposite of hostile.

In this memoir, she goes on to explain that throughout life, we all need friends as we grow. Whether we actually want them, or have time for them, the need is still in abundance. Sometimes pals stick around for a lot longer than we expected, and some of the times they vanish before we even realize they've been drifting apart. Either way, Sonnenberg has penned the truth and perhaps will open readers' eyes a little wider to recognizing that it's more important for ourselves to be a chum, rather than depend on another.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intimacy that is real, deep and urgent, March 24, 2013
This review is from: She Matters: A Life in Friendships (Hardcover)
It used to bug me how, at a certain point at parties, half a dozen of the most interesting women would get up and stroll to the ladies room.

Their reason, I came to understand, was neither cosmetic nor functional --- they just knew a better party was to be had sitting on the edge of the bathtub, chatting among themselves.

One night I did what I'd wanted to do for years: I followed them.

An exception was made and --- be still my heart --- I was treated like "one of the girls." And I understood why they fled the living room: A better time really was to be had without men. That is: greater intimacy, sharper sharing, edgier stories.
"
That is also true of Susana Sonnenberg's "She Matters: A Life in Friendships." I'd read her first memoir --- "Her Last Death" --- and greatly admired her account of a childhood spent with a drug-soaked, sex-addicted, wildly destructive mother and an eccentric, distracted father. Sonnenberg's story was compelling, but what really impressed me was the writing. By now pretty much anyone can serve up a lurid tale; Sonnenberg not only faced the truth about her family's pathology, she crafted it with style, wit, and, remarkably, distance.

"She Matters" tells twenty stories: Sonnenberg's intense friendships with twenty women. That number alone is impressive --- I don't think I've had twenty friends in my life. And I don't know anyone who would say that friends are as crucial to life as oxygen.

But here is Patricia, "who marked what mattered between friends...you witness and love, and you feel loved. She wasn't asking for anything." And here, at summer camp, is Jessica. "On the last day we said, `How can I live without you?'" Here, in boarding school, is an easier but narrow friendship: Abigail's biggest concerns are sports and grades. She's followed by Claudia, another child from a moneyed family, who falls for a back-to-the-land fantasy. Esther, the college roommate, is a kind of twin: "two Jewish girls from peace and privilege with good educations." Junior year abroad brings a Sapphic moment with Miriam. Annabelle lived upstairs with her husband; when Susanna announced she too was getting married, Annabelle bluntly told her that her fiancé was not to be trusted.

Later, married to a better man, Sonnenberg writes: "Our husbands were undone from us, phantoms of some former interest. I had nothing to say to men. Men! I could barely fathom their use, now that we'd made children." So she becomes close to Claire, also married and a mother, until Claire stuns her with a note: "I can't be friends with you anymore. You dump on everything important to me."

Flora, the massage therapist, holds her as she weeps. And Adele helps her get beyond her guilt at having an abortion a decade ago: "I cried, draining the angers, the sorrows... They existed in the words, the water, the murmured recognition, between women."

This stuff is far beyond party talk in the bathroom at parties. It's deep and real and urgent, and for a man, even a feminized man like me, a little frightening. What a commitment to friendship Susanna Sonnenberg has! What a hunger for it! What a stunning ability to be with it on the page, beat by beat.

And yet there's a flaw in this book.

"She Matters: A Life in Friendships" fills just 255 pages. They are rich, delicious pages, better written than almost all of the fiction and memoirs that land on my desk. But these stories of intense friendships with 20 women are like eating a dinner of 20 desserts --- after the first sugar rush, reading becomes a marathon. I soldiered on, fascinated and exhausted. At the end, I wished there had been only 15 chapters --- or, that thing I often wish, and loudly: that publishers would hire me to give their finished books one final, this-one-is-for-the-readers edit.

Inside many thick books are thinner books screaming to get out.

Sometimes that can also happen in a thin book.

But which five of Susanna Sonnenberg's chapters should be cut?
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disappointing book, February 1, 2013
By 
Karen Ladanye (Missoula, Montana USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: She Matters: A Life in Friendships (Hardcover)
I was disappointed in this book. I expected a celebration of the unique aspects of women's friendships. Instead, this is the story of a self-centered, materialistic, personality-disordered woman who manages to drive away almost all of her friends. I will give the author credit for being so candid. However, because of her neediness and relative lack of
empathy, she seems to miss the depth and meaningfulness of true friendships. Maybe the author needs to quit complaining about her mother and look at her own behavior.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dreadful book, probably a worse friend, January 31, 2013
By 
THW (Los Altos, CA) - See all my reviews
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This book was dreadful. As I read it I kept thinking "Oh, what a surprise. Another woman friend of hers no longer wants anything to do with her." While I think she got *slightly* more self aware by the end of the book, this was just the whining of a woman who ultimately doesn't get it. I can ready anything, but this was like torture. So incredibly glad she isn't living in my town ... no insight here, just delusion.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Friendships didn't matter., May 25, 2013
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Totally disliked the format and writing style. Nothing seemed to be truly developed. Friendships all seemed superficial from the author's point of view. Still do not understand how these friendships mattered to her at all in the deepest sense of friendship.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Self indulgent Cry for Help, October 27, 2013
By 
L. Leeder (Newton Centre, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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Given the fantastic reviews this book received, I was ultimately disappointed. On the positive end, Sonnenberg has a way with words, and every once in a while she captures a moment or turn of phrase that is memorable. However, the individual stories of each of the failed female friendships are told in a superficial and overly predictable fashion, showcasing a confused sexuality and sense of self. The disjointed presentation creates a confusing timeline, and other than the fact that Sonnenberg cannot understand why each of these relationships stop working, it becomes tedious and depressing. While I admire Sonnenberg for her courage in exposing the more vulnerable aspects of her life, I had a hard time finishing the book, and was left with the hope that if even 50% of the facts of the stories are true, that the author is getting therapy.
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She Matters: A Life in Friendships
She Matters: A Life in Friendships by Susanna Sonnenberg (Hardcover - January 8, 2013)
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