Big Friendship by Ann Friedman & Aminutou Sow - The Power of Society's Most Underappreciated Relationship


How we keep each other close.

I'm not a memoir person. Especially if the people in the book happen to be still alive. It gives me that morbid feeling of someone writing their obituary ahead of time and I already have some major bad luck as it is to think that this is actually a good idea.

But the premise of this book really spoke to me and I was hooked from page one. 

I'm in that stage of my life where I'm starting to consider every relationship I have if they benefit me in any way, if they're good for my mental health if they encourage me or drag me down. I'm also re-making space for old friends who disappeared for a while, trying to understand where they fit, if there's value in what they are willing to give me and if there's any chance I could give - whatever that is - back.

Big Friendship came at the right time. It was almost comical how much I ended up needed it, how much I've learned from it.

A book about friendship, you ask? Do they even exist? I hear you. Most books are all about a love interest, making the friend be a side character that sometimes gives you advice - and others stab you in the back. We don't have that many books that explore this complicated relationship that sometimes can consume us more than a romantic one does.

But what I thought was going to be a fun ride on a bike in the countryside, turned out to be a prickly walk among cactuses. Meaning, this book was so honest and raw and relatable that I had to double-check it wasn't written by someone I actually know.

Big Friendship is the story of how two people choose each other over and over again, through ups and downs, the great and the ugly, the lies and the scary truth. Two people who didn't give up when things started to go south, who had their moments but decided to stick around for the long run.

This is a necessary read. It gives you perspective and a third POV from which to look at your relationships and see what's missing, what could be better, and what should be cut out. It's a friendly guide to better understand your relationships and take the leap that could potentially mend things or break them forever.

If you're still unsure whether this is the book for you or not, well, let me put it this way: as I was reading it, I was sat on the balcony in 34°C and suddenly decided to write the longest email I've ever written to a friend. I never write emails to friends, especially if I haven't talked to them in six years. I poured my heart out, I left pride aside and allowed myself to come clean, to tell her I missed her and that, as Friedman and Sow, I did actually see myself all grey and old, having a laugh and a glass of cheap wine on a balcony, with my friend by my side. 

I bit my nails and hit send. 
And guess what: she listened. 

We are still repairing our relationship after what Aminatou has referred to as "our emotional Katrina" - an unnatural disaster of epic proportions. But we're still here.

*A copy of this book was kindly sent to me by Virago but all opinions are my own.