MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search for a New Best Friend by Rachel Bertsche

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:

A Book Club for Two, Please

Curled up on top of the floor heat vent, under a comforter, on a chilly Christmas afternoon with my brand new hardback copy of Matilda.

Flipping through the pages of a history book that my sister and I dug out of a dumpster at the high school where my dad taught, writing in the answers to the end-of-section review questions after reading each chapter.

Proudly clamping my brand new lamp to the edge of my frilly, white and pink daybed, knowing that now I could stay up way later than my prescribed bedtime to read just one or two (or three, or maybe four) chapters in the lives of the Holt family, from the American Dynasty series, in which I was totally entrenched.

Wandering down not-so-well-lit alleys with a backpack on my back, in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, (the list goes on…) in search of a used bookstore where I could buy a novel or two to tide me over until the next hostel with a “take-one, leave-one” lending library policy. (I must confess my thievery here. At these hostels, I took *WAY* more books that I left. It was out of desperation. Really.)

*************
Words and stories and books have always played a huge role in my life. From my earliest memories of reading the comics in the morning newspaper as I ate my bowl of Lucky Charms to my current, late-night book buying binges on BarnesandNoble.com, books are always there.

Last night, as I was putting off doing anything constructive, like folding laundry or cleaning up the dinner dishes, I was randomly surfing the internet when I heard the lovely little electronic chirp meaning I had a new Google message from someone.  Toggling over to my open Gmail account, I saw that it was my 6th grade niece, Kelsey, who was just starting her day in Idaho. She must have been ready for school a few minutes early, as she was online and we had a chance to chat for a bit. After talking about how school was going and what her crazy siblings were up to, she asked if I wanted to pick a book to read together and then talk about.

YES!!

Of course I want to read a book together and then talk about it. It will be like our own mini-book club!

I was so excited that she thought of this idea and I was on board before she could change her middle school mind. Thinking she might have an in on what was popular right now, I asked what she wanted to read (it isn’t always easy to keep up with young adult trends from the other side of the world), but she deferred to my English teacher-ness and said to pick.

As Kels headed off to her day filled with math and science and orchestra and dance, I spent the rest of the evening bouncing between BN.com and Amazon.com, looking for the latest and greatest novels to read together, thinking if I narrowed the choices down, she could make the final selection.

Because of this nearly manic need to have something to read in front of me at all times (cereal boxes, owner’s manuals, advertisements around the edges of a map…), our new reading adventure just gives me another outlet for my bookworm DNA.  I’m so excited (and I just can’t hide it!) to get reading together.

Book recommendations have been submitted to my co-reader and I await her proclamation. Next step? An awesome name for our two-person reading group.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.