I gave this book to page 53 because a random person (random meaning I don’t know him) on Goodreads said he gives books 50 pages to engage him. If they haven’t drawn him in after 50 pages, he moves on to another book. I’m fine with taking advice from random people when it suits me.
So, there’s my caveat: I only read three chapters of this book. I read the reasoning for the year-long weekly friend-date challenge and recaps of the first seven friend-dates, and already I feel overwhelmed trying to keep track of names and impressions and why someone who already has lots of friends is seeking a “BFF” from a pool of people she doesn’t know rather than from the people with whom she’s already friends. I am not someone who is energized by casual interaction in a public setting, but even knowing this, I was surprised at just how worn out I got just reading about how often the author went out with people (on top of being around people all day at work). Actually doing it would be like Hell to me. Not the innermost circle, one of the more outer circles (maybe the fourth?), but in the neighborhood, for sure.
Add to that the fact that I don’t think I have much in common with the author aside from the desire to be a writer and a recent relocation to an unfamiliar city (except that she went to college in her unfamiliar city whereas I didn’t set foot in mine until we drove up in our rental car with the kids and the cats and my Vitamix in back). She’s seeking to recreate a BFF experience from her childhood, a BFF experience she can access via phone calls and visits back to her home city, if she chooses to. I don’t have that kind of measuring stick (as I mentioned in my review of Claire Dederer’s Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses).
I do appreciate that she leaves open the possibility that she might not “need” a new best friend, that she’s actually happy and fine just the way she is and only thinks she needs a best friend because she’s comparing her present life to her past and to the lives of people on her favorite tv shows. While I would like to establish a stronger social circle in my newest home town, I’m mostly satisfied with my homebody existence. Despite Bertsche’s arguments that it’s impossible, I do actually consider my husband my best friend. The trouble we have is that we have so little time without the children that we rarely can have an uninterrupted conversation. When we do, we’re great buddies and chief confidantes for one another. We mostly need friends here so we have a safety net in case we need help and so we can get referrals for good babysitters. Oh, and the neighbors wandering about with chainsaws after that freak October snow storm were surprisingly helpful.
Perhaps the book gets just awesome after Chapter 3, but I’ve got A Gesture Life to pick up from the library’s hold shelf, and I’d much rather sink my teeth into some good fiction right now.
And frankly, even if the way to find a best friend is to go on one friend date a week for a year, it’s just not worth it to me; I would go batty (battier) well before the 52nd date.