Monday, September 22, 2014

Book Review: The Friend Who Got Away edited by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell

From Goodreads:
Losing a friend can be as painful and as agonizing as a divorce or the end of a love affair, yet it is rarely written about or even discussed. The Friend Who Got Away is the first book to address this near-universal experience, bringing together the brave, eloquent voices of writers like Francine Prose, Katie Roiphe, Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Strout, Ann Hood, Diana Abu Jabar, Vivian Gornick, Helen Schulman, and many others. 
Some write of friends who have drifted away, others of sudden breakups that took them by surprise. Some even celebrate their liberation from unhealthy or destructive relationships. Yet at the heart of each story is the recognition of a loss that will never be forgotten. 

From stories about friendships that dissolved when one person revealed a hidden self or moved into a different world, to tales of relationships sabotaged by competition, personal ambition, or careless indifference, The Friend Who Got Away casts new light on the meaning and nature of women’s friendships.  
Written especially for this anthology and touched with humor, sadness, and sometimes anger, these extraordinary pieces simultaneously evoke the uniqueness of each situation and illuminate the universal emotions evoked by the loss of a friend.
Writing
Done well across the board.  I enjoyed each story and identified with so many of them.  There's a good range of styles and stories, which I think will lend a broad appeal to various readerships.  There's something for everyone represented here.

Entertainment Value
Obviously, this is probably going to appeal to a mainly female audience, although there are a few stories that cross genders and sexualities.   Within the female demographic, however, I think there's going to be a broad range of readers who will find the topic interesting and who will be able to identify with the subject matter.

Overall
I thoroughly enjoyed this one and think it would make for great book club discussions.  I personally identified with the idea of a female friendship lost and grieved in the way that one might grieve the end of a romantic relationship and spend years wondering what might have been.  My personal friend who got away is someone I haven't spoken to in years, but who I still think about and wonder how we could have saved the relationship.  

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