Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

With the way the world is today, friendship is more important than ever, helping us through and keeping us sane, giving us the emotional support. I felt like this book would be a good one to read and share with you all right now, so I took it on without realising that it was written by two women who have a podcast together (Call Your Girlfriend) and who have been friends for decades. It’s the story of the friendship of these two, how they met, their ups and downs, and an exploration of how important friends are.

The book is written not by two voices, but by one unified first person, which feels like an odd choice. I know that when My Favourite Murder brought out their popular book, they womdered if theirs was the first dual biography. This book references this, and says that they are the first dual biography in first person. It makes for an interesting read. I felt like I could tell sometimes that one or another was writing, even though they were saying “we”.

Anyway, I think the people who will most enjoy this book will perhaps be those that already listen to their podcast, which is touted as essentially their calls as long distance friends. As someone who didn’t know them and hasn’t listened, I still got a lot out of this book.

As the book points out, there are plenty of books about the impact of our family and romantic relationships, but it’s as though friendship has been brushed under the rug, even though our friends are often closer than our family of origin, and are vitally important. Having friends actually leads to living a longer life. It’s an essential and vital part of being human.

Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow

The title of the book comes from the concept of Big Friendship, not just friends but the ones that loom large in our lives and hearts. The relationship between the authors is a Big Friendship, and I really like their story of how they met, and their years together. I liked the chapters on how different they are, and their insights into how relationships work, why we feel like it’s easier to walk away rather than hash things out, and how they worked through things. There’s a great chapter on their concept of Shine Theory too, of how friends, especially women, can be a huge support to each other when we help each other shine and achieve. When we help each other succeed, we enjoy our own success more and even have more success ourselves over time. They also look at why and how friends and friendship was more valued than it is now.

These two friends had their own big problems, and I think it’s nice to know that. They’re not perfect. But a flaw of telling us this is that they were able to go to a kind of couples therapy and work their problems out together. The average person probably can’t do this, which means the book made me feel like big friendships might inevitably by doomed to failure. I hope not. Either way, I liked exploring the nature of friendship and it’s impact with these two, even though I didn’t agree with them on all points. The book is mostly about them, so this one is probably geared towards listeners of their podcast on the whole, but it’s a great introduction to them and what they’re all about, so they may reach some new people with this book. And I hope it opens up the conversation for putting greater value and perhaps more research into friendship and it’s meaning in our lives. Especially, Bog Friendships.

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada for the ARC of this book for review. All opinions here are my own and honest thoughts.

Big Friendship is out July 14 2020.

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