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Deep Secrets: Boys' Friendships and the Crisis of Connection Paperback – April 8, 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

In Way's groundbreaking Deep Secrets, boys who have long been obscured by cultural myths come alive and let us all in on their most promising, most human dimensions. This is a book that should start educators and parents rethinking how we support our sons' lives. (Michael C. Reichert, coauthor of Reaching Boys, Teaching Boys)

Way's moving analysis of the intimate lives of boys challenges the reader to reconsider many of the widely held assumptions about what it means to grow up male in America today. By sharing their stories of loss, their fears of rejection, their hopes and dreams of connection, Way introduces us to the world of adolescent males so that we can see them as they are and not as we may have imagined. (Pedro A. Noguera, author of The Trouble with Black Boys)

Deep Secrets is a much needed and insightful book. Niobe Way rescues us from the simplistic view that 'boys will be boys' to reveal the depth of boys' emotional lives. From her careful and extensive research over two decades comes a compelling and memorable portrait of real boys' lives. (Gary Barker, author of Dying to Be Men: Youth, Masculinity, and Social Exclusion)

The book that changes the discussion about boys. Let the secret out! (Michael Kaufman, author of Cracking the Armour: Power, Pain, and the Lives of Men)

[Deep Secrets] offers a surprising glimpse into the hearts of American boys, revealing a group of lonely young men who crave acceptance and belonging and deeply miss the friendships of their childhood...Compulsively readable...Way recounts the hundreds of interviews her team conducted in American high schools. The voices present are heartbreakingly authentic in revealing a pattern, a gradual drift away from "emotionally intimate same-sex friendships" with other boys and toward a destructive stereotype of manliness that perpetuate the false notion that "boys are only interested in one thing." (Publishers Weekly (starred review) 2011-04-11)

The stories that Way and her research team have persuaded boys to tell are a welcome corrective to the stereotyping of males as essentially unfeeling and/or incapable of communicating their feelings, which has been such a striking (and offensive) feature of recent discourse on gender differences. Way deserves our gratitude for bringing to the surface what seems lately to have become the deepest secret of all: that the needs, desires and feelings of boys and girls, or men and women, are at bottom far more similar than different. (Deborah Cameron Times Higher Education 2011-04-07)

Deep Secrets tells a story of American teenagers in baggy jeans and T-shirts, with a basketball under the arm, expressing extraordinary sensitivity and tenderness about their same-sex friends, and expecting the same in return. The disappearance of this gentle world, it seems, scars them for life, and appears to do extensive damage to the culture at large... In short, this is an extremely important book, a revelation in a way, and one of the most absorbing academic publications I've ever had the privilege of reading. (Bradley Winterton Taipei Times 2011-05-08)

Way's book should provide encouragement to parents wondering whether they are setting their children, especially their sons, up for abuse by encouraging closeness and defiance of gender stereotypes, particularly those concerning close same-sex friends. Way asserts that the need and ability for connection is as keen in boys as it is in girls, and she backs up her assertion with plenty of data and close reading of the literature. Connection is not something one needs to teach, as the author so eloquently demonstrates; it is something one needs to foster. The text is beautifully written, and the boys' stories are interspersed with explanations and discussion substantiated by the literature. A truly approachable piece of work for a wide audience. (J. F. Heberle Choice 2011-09-01)

About the Author

Niobe Way is Professor of Applied Psychology at New York University and director of the Ph.D. program in Developmental Psychology.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 6, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674072421
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674072428
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #577,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ruth Wyatt on May 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In this deeply moving book, Niobe Way presents her findings from 20 years of research on the emotional and social lives of boys. In doing so, Way challenges the widely held belief that adolescent boys do not have intimate friendships with each other. Sharing excerpts from hundreds of interviews she conducted with boys all over the country, Way shows us just how much boys crave intimacy and how capable they are of maintaining intimate friendships. Sadly, Way also shows us the many ways these intimate friendships come under siege from a society that sees male intimacy as "gay" or feminine. At turns inspiring and sobering, this book is always compelling. A must read for parents (particularly of boys), educators and parenting professionals.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Niobe Way and her team of researchers have interviewed thousands of boys over the years. The research is longitudinal in that the same boy is interviewed each of the four years of high school to track changing beliefs and feelings. The interviews are wide-ranging over a variety of topics so the boys do not realize that the purpose of them is to glean their attitudes toward their friendships with male peers.

What Way has found is that in early adolescence boys speak very openly about the importance of deep, sharing male friendships in their lives. Then, by middle and late adolescence, this all changes. They begin to speak about not needing close male friendships and not wanting them in their lives. At the same time, a longing for those close relationships slips through their words, belying them.

She postulates that what happens during this time is the boys become aware of looming manhood and what society expects of them as men. Society tells them that feelings are for girls and that boys should be independent and have no feelings. These messages from society clash with what their hearts say, which is that they need and want the support that comes from close male friendships. They get stuck in a place where if they openly admit to their needs they will suffer alienation and ridicule from their peers so they try their best to convince themselves that they don’t need such things.

To a lesser extent it appears also that part of the boys’ increasing emotional distance from their peers is due to having been betrayed by peers they trusted: shared deep secrets were spread around to others.
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Format: Hardcover
A convincing, lucidly-written analysis of a core issue in the lives of boys: how their emotional needs to bond with other boys are challenged and ultimately suppressed by cultural presumptions and stereotypes as they develop through adolescence and beyond. And, this is a book which reverberates beyond adolescent development as the emotional alienation which Niobe Way documents remains problematic for many men as they cope with issues in their own adulthood. Parents who have boys, teachers who deal with them, men who once were boys, and anyone who cares about them will be enlightened by this book.
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This book was very eye opening. It is NOT one of those books claiming that boys are just like girls until we socialize them to be different, but it does point out that some of the issues with young males could be rooted in invented differences. The bottom line is males need intimate yet completely non erotic, non sexual connections with other males their age. Without it males are drawn into dangerous alternatives to handle their emotional needs. A lot of therapy could be replaced by close friendships. I hope this line of thinking becomes a part of our assessment of male development in this disconnected culture of ours.
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For anyone looking to expand their understanding of both the esoteric and emotional male in current day, Niobe Way paints an acute picture with this book. Covering a wide range of socioeconomic and demographic factors, her gathered data used for analyzation goes bounds beyond to frame a portrait of most young men's struggle in America. Although undeniably "Thick" for some non Psychology readers, she maintains her prose and logical causation in a traceable way throughout her 9 chapters. A five star would of been possible only if she focused closer on the individual lives of her selected participants, as I found their stories eerily similar to my own youth and adolescent struggles.
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Format: Hardcover
Many good insights but far too long. This book could easily have been half the length, and I found the repetition tiresome.
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