Connecting: The Enduring Power of Female Friendship

Sandy Sheehy, Author
Sandy Sheehy, Author William Morrow & Company $25 (416p) ISBN 978-0-380-97430-6
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In this weighty volume, Texan and magazine writer Sheehy (Texas Big Rich) attempts to track how the form and significance of friendships between women change throughout their lives. Describing the friendships of girls and women of all ages, she also examines the divergent views women from different generations may have about their girlfriends. For women who came of age in the 1950s or earlier, she finds, the relationship with a man always takes precedence over friendships; they also don't discuss personal problems. Younger women, on the other hand, reject the idea of standing up a friend in favor of a boyfriend, and they don't hesitate to discuss their personal problems or to ask a friend what's wrong if she seems troubled. Sheehy affirms these relationships warmly and explains the important role they play in women's emotional development and even physical health. Written in a friendly voice and sprinkled throughout with anecdotes that both quicken the pace of the narrative and provide depth and emphasis for Sheehy's points, the book challenges readers to rethink the meaning and import of women's friendships. ""Female friendship is indeed a primary bond,"" she writes. Blending quotes from interviews she conducted with ordinary women nationwide, sociological studies, conversations with psychotherapists and articles from women's magazines, Sheehy makes a strong case. However, her description of ""the ten forms of female friendship"" (e.g., soulmates, companions in crisis) sometimes seems didactic and restricting, leaving little room for individual variation or quirks. On the whole, however, Sheehy's lively book offers a framework within which women can consider and reevaluate their own friendships. (Aug.)
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