cover image How to Be Loved: A Memoir of a Lifesaving Friendship

How to Be Loved: A Memoir of a Lifesaving Friendship

Eva Hagberg Fisher. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24 (240p) ISBN 978-0-544-99115-6

This heart-wrenching memoir follows freelance writer Fisher from her 1980s childhood to the present, as she slowly discovers that it’s okay to let oneself be loved. As an undergraduate at Princeton, she possessed an intense ambition and saw her peers as competition rather than friends, which, she writes, made it hard to feel close to others. Instead, she turned to alcohol and cocaine; after suffering from addiction for several years, she joined AA. After getting sober, Fisher attended graduate school at UC Berkeley (where she is currently a PhD candidate in visual and narrative culture). At an AA meeting there, she met and became fast friends with Allison, an older, terminally ill woman who helped Fisher after a health scare led to the discovery of a brain hemorrhage and subsequent surgery to remove what turned out to be a noncancerous mass. After surgery, Fisher felt coming out of her nose “a stalactite of blood that connected right up to my shattered skull,” and it’s with Allison’s constant care that Fisher learned to accept help from others. “We don’t swim across the ocean all at once,” Allison tells her, “we just swim to the next buoy—with help.” Fisher’s often-gruesome medical descriptions are juxtaposed by her gentle exploration of love and friendship in this dazzling memoir. [em](Feb.) [/em]