Friendship is a tricky thing. When you are young, it is all about who lives in your neighborhood or who is in your class at school. Kids, for the most part, are good at finding connections within those preset groups. One you get in to middle school and high school, friendships are much more chosen. Kids look outside the few houses surrounding theirs or their homeroom and seek out kids in the school with similar interests or backgrounds. And by college, while your dorm mate might be your BFF for the first few weeks, you quickly find others who are studying the same things, involved in the same activities or hanging at the same places as you do. Your friendship net is able to cast much wider than ever before. But, by the time we get to be adults, it seems like we lose a bit of our ability to automatically connect the way we did as kids. It can make finding friends, especially close ones, tough to do.
That’s the premise that Rachel Bertsche started with in MWF Seeking BFF. She was new to Chicago and looking for girl friends. She had a wonderful husband, but wanted the chit-chat, reruns of Glee and mani/pedi dates for which a husband just doesn’t cut it. With the need for new girl friends, Bertsche went on a year-long quest to add to her friend Rolodex. She committed to “date” fifty-two girls over the course of the year, hoping to make some genuine connections along the way.
When I first picked up MWF Seeking BFF, I thought I was in for another blogger turned memoirist book. (I have to admit, I love this up and coming genre. There is something to be said for someone who gains a huge following online and then is able to translate it on the printed page.) And the book is a memoir, but it is more than that. There is a touch of self-help thrown in and a whole lot of research on friendships, along with the humor and storytelling that I prize in these types of books.
Initially I was very turned off by the research included in the book. To me, “memoir” doesn’t scream quotation citation and reference checks. And, to be honest, Bertsche’s use of the research is a little choppy at times. There were moments, mostly early in the book, that I felt like I was reading the world’s longest 8th grade research paper. (Believe me, I’ve read enough of those to know what I am talking about.) The transitions from her story to the quotes by scientists and sociologists were not always the smoothest. It felt like she was told her had to have a certain number of citations, and by golly, she was going to get them.
But, once I got used to this rather unique writing style, I really tuned in to the book and enjoyed it. Rachel Bertsche is just a few years younger than I am, and having recently moved to the other side of the world, (with many more such moves in my future) I get where she is coming from. At 30-something, it isn’t easy to leave behind your BFFs and make new friends, to basically start over in the friend department. I found her discussion of different levels of friends to be spot-on and her tales of breaking the ice with new person after new person sounded rather familiar to me.
This book was originally recommended to me by one of the members of my book club in Washington DC (and fellow blogger in the world of Foreign Service- you can check out her adventures in Mexico City here), and would have been the *perfect* read for a book club. After finishing it, I am super disappointed that we didn’t get to read it together and talk about the struggles of friendship as an adult. MWF Seeking BFF: My Year Long Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche was a fascinating book, in which I saw a lot of my current situation reflected, which earns it a very strong: