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The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away Paperback – May 9, 2006

3.8 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The reasons are myriad: one friend slept with the other's boyfriend; money caused an argument; friends became romantically involved with each other; lives and priorities changed; a bond simply "unraveled." For the women who contribute to this thoughtful anthology, the end of friendship--no matter its cause--is often distressing, and that feeling always lingers. Yet such a bleak subject has yielded a trove of mostly inquisitive, mindful writing, a selection of very personal pieces about a painful and fairly universal experience. Some writers remember childhood friendships: Diana Abu Jaber recalls her trials as an expatriate kid in Jordan, torn between a playmate who spoke her language and another whose words she couldn't understand yet with whom she felt closer; Nicole Keeter writes of her connection with and later break from the only other black girl in her fifth-grade class. Others evoke friendships from college and adulthood, such as Heather Abel and PW Forecasts editor Emily Chenoweth, who, in separate essays, delve into the circumstances that led to their friendship and its demise. "For a long time... my love for Heather was a piece of glass in my heart; it hurt every time I moved," writes Chenoweth. Though often sad when read in succession, these pieces are deeply affecting. Montaigne said friendship "feeds the spirit"; the same applies to this engrossing collection.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Editors Offill and Schappell offer ostensibly the first book on lost friendship between women: 20 accounts of bonds that faltered, snapped, or slowly disappeared. Some of them are torch songs; some express anguish on a par with that of divorce; some are sly, tongue-in-cheek explanations of "lifelong" friendship's tenure. "I do not believe in . . . Meaningful Talks, except when they relate to . . . hair or makeup," opines one woman. "Otherwise, confrontations, in my opinion, serve only to make the plaintiff feel better for making the other person feel bad. I hold those I am really fond of to a lower standard than I do other people." Another contributor, one of a trio of friends, finds that her three miscarriages ruined the mythical story ("that wildness of being the same") of the threesome's bond. By breaking the silence about failed friendship so literately, this book appeals to many more readers than just students of interpersonal psychology. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books (May 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767917197
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767917193
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #575,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Jana L.Perskie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I felt compelled to read "The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away" because I am a woman who once lost a best friend, and for some reason let her "get away." I have long felt a profound sense of sadness for the tremendous loss - the loss of so much closeness, the mutual trust, and the extraordinary intimacy of being able to confide almost anything in another person. In my lifetime, I have experienced the end of many relationships, some for expediency, others because paths diverged, and some, even for the best. Yet I will never forget this special women and all the wonderful conversations, thoughts and dreams we once shared - and now do not. Those who believe, in general, that romantic relationships are more intense than platonic friendships are in for a surprise. As I read the twenty essays included in this gem of a collection, some of them wonderful, others not, I was amazed at how many resonated with me and reminded me of various and diverse relationships I have had with women over the years. I was struck by the complexity of these friendships, and the variety of reasons they ended.

One friendship broke-up over a loan. Another, because men, sex and dates took priority over women friends. Others ended because of intellectual differences, competition, ambition, and betrayal. A few stories are devastating in nature, one involves the loss of a child. Authors Heather Abel and Emily Chenoweth discuss their mutual college friendship, and its demise, in separate essays. "I've never had a friendship that was that intense," Chenoweth said in a recent interview. "It did make it volatile in the way that a love relationship can be. But the thing is, lovers have a vocabulary for talking about the relationship.
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Format: Hardcover
It's happened to all of us: the friendship you thought would enrich your life forever ends because of death, disinterest, argument, man problems, loss of common interest, distance, illness, or inertia. While it's not at all surprising to hear of love lost, it is somehow startling and fascinating when friendship ends. That person who knew you like no other, to whom you confided all your dreams and secrets, is no longer in your life --- leaving an enormous and sometimes heartbreaking gap.

In this nonfiction anthology of essays, twenty well-known female writers tell their true tales of friendship lost. Two authors, once best friends, share separate perspectives of their parting.

I was delighted to discover names of authors I admire, including Ann Hood, whose "How I Lost Her" made me weep. Other standouts include the horribly disturbing "Flawless" by Lydia Millet (I'm not sure I can say I enjoyed it, but I'll be thinking about it for a very long time). "Want" by Nuar Alsadir, describing a friend who takes imitation to a distressing level, also intrigued and bothered me. The black-humored "Tenure" by Patricia Marx, in which the author wryly describes herself as "the most easygoing, accommodating, nonjudgmental, and unassuming friend in the world" was the one tale that made me laugh ruefully.

Curiously, Diana Abu-Jaber's "In-Betweens," telling of the author's childhood relationship with two boys, is the only story in the anthology describing a lost friendship with a male. I can't help but wonder why that is, and if it's representative.

The theme of friendship won and lost is universal and riveting; each story in this collection is sincere and regretful. Several tales struck a chord, reminding me of my own lost friends.
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Format: Hardcover
I wonder often if the authors of books like these realize at all how few people really live the lives they are writing about. By this I mean lives of art show openings, long intellectual conversations, shopping at small trendy boutiques for interesting clothes, traveling the world and having moments of revelations while watching exotic sunsets...I am not saying all these times are literally included here, but you get the picture! Most of the essays here seem much more written to show off the authors' Writer's Workshop prose than to really talk about lost friendships. I was eager to read this book as it's a big issue in many women's lives---friendship is such a vital part of our lives and lost friendships can be much like divorces, yet it's not often written about. A few of the essays did not disappoint, most notably the one by Ann Hood. I had thought of her so often since reading in the paper about the tragic loss of her daughter, and her lost friendship in the aftermath of that tragedy is so affecting to read about. A few other essays were wonderful, mainly the ones written about childhood friendships, such as the one by Nicole Keeter. But almost all the rest were nothing that I could relate to at all. I think the editors could have looked for a little more divesity---do no blue collar women lose friends? Do very few women with children lose friends? Do those in rural areas lose friends? Do those who, heaven forbid, write with styles not honed in writers workshops lose friends?

Overall, a good idea marred by the choices of essays and authors.
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