Review

The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships That Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away

edited by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell



It's happened to all of us: the friendship you thought would enrich
your life forever ends because of death, disinterest, argument, man
problems, loss of common interest, distance, illness, or inertia.
While it's not at all surprising to hear of love lost, it is
somehow startling and fascinating when friendship ends. That person
who knew you like no other, to whom you confided all your dreams
and secrets, is no longer in your life --- leaving an enormous and
sometimes heartbreaking gap.

In this nonfiction anthology of essays, twenty well-known female
writers tell their true tales of friendship lost. Two authors, once
best friends, share separate perspectives of their parting.

I was delighted to discover names of authors I admire, including
Ann Hood, whose "How I Lost Her" made me weep. Other standouts
include the horribly disturbing "Flawless" by Lydia Millet (I'm not
sure I can say I enjoyed it, but I'll be thinking about it for a
very long time). "Want" by Nuar Alsadir, describing a friend who
takes imitation to a distressing level, also intrigued and bothered
me. The black-humored "Tenure" by Patricia Marx, in which the
author wryly describes herself as "the most easygoing,
accommodating, nonjudgmental, and unassuming friend in the world"
was the one tale that made me laugh ruefully.

Curiously, Diana Abu-Jaber's "In-Betweens," telling of the author's
childhood relationship with two boys, is the only story in the
anthology describing a lost friendship with a male. I can't help
but wonder why that is, and if it's representative.

The theme of friendship won and lost is universal and riveting;
each story in this collection is sincere and regretful. Several
tales struck a chord, reminding me of my own lost friends. Others
fascinated me by telling of friendships unlike any I've
encountered. However, as much as I enjoyed THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY,
I couldn't help but notice that tale after tale of loss can make
for a downbeat reading experience. Despite that minor quibble
(easily solved by interspersing these stories with other, lighter
reading), I definitely recommend this thought-provoking and
intriguing anthology.

Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon (Terryms2001@yahoo.com) on January 22, 2011

The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships That Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away
edited by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell

  • Publication Date: May 17, 2005
  • Genres: Essays, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday
  • ISBN-10: 0385511868
  • ISBN-13: 9780385511865