Now two friends, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, tell the story of their equally messy and life-affirming Big Friendship in this honest and hilarious book that chronicles their first decade in one another’s lives. As the hosts of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend, they’ve become known for frank and intimate conversations. In this book, they bring that energy to their own friendship—its joys and its pitfalls.
An inspiring and entertaining testament to the power of society’s most underappreciated relationship, Big Friendship will invite you to think about how your own bonds are formed, challenged, and preserved. It is a call to value your friendships in all of their complexity. Actively choose them. And, sometimes, fight for them. (less)
I read this book in August and it was amazing so get it. But I don’t want to do a review as much as talk about the one thing it made me think of.
The authors talk about a challenging period in their frendship where they were not getting on and they went for therapy together. Either in the book or in the many podcasts promoting their book I listened to they ask how people resolve conflict in a friendship and the process to get a “friend” therapist a specific type of therapist different from most other relationships.
This made me think of a troubled friendship last year that just fizzled out. We had a misunderstanding – not the first we had in the years of friendship but I suppose we are both moms of little ones now and pressed for time and sleep which probably accelerated it all. And then since then we have just ghosted each other. So this is what the book made me think of:
After all the many fights over the years, why was this the one that finally led to the estragement?
Over the years, were there many “missed” moments where we didn’t see the other and that escalated over time?
Could we ever move past this and if not, what would it look like to formally dissolve the friendship (especially where we have so many friends in common)?
Having thought that, I think the impasse is a resolution because in the past when I have cared, I have formally spoken about it with a friend so this is an answer of sorts.
Over the holiday I got a bit tired of listening to the same subscribed podcast content so I challenged myself to listen to shows I wouldn’t normally do or I had heard but did not want to commit to full subscription just yet. So here are some of those fantastic episodes.
I felt my back stand up when I first listened to her views on infidelity so I wasn’t open at all but I liked it so much I listened to this other episode on sexlessness.
Radio Diaries’ Teenage Diariesrevisited. I love that kind of radio soooo much. I was hanging on the edge of my seat listening. Definitely subscribing. As a teen I would have loved to participate in such an activity, to be honest, even now I would.
Key: *** Highly Recommend ** Yeah, why not read it *Nah, only read if you have nothing else (No star) I have no feelings on the book
The Believers – Rebecca Makkai ***
Becoming – Michelle Obama *** I initially feared that the hype would be larger than the content of the book so I read it much later and I loved it. My only regret was by then all the book clubs had already met and discussed it.
The Year that Changed Everything- Cathy Kelly. First of her reads and I loved it.
It Started with Paris – Cathy Kelly.
The Storyteller- Jodi Piccoult **Do terrible deeds define us or can we be someone else with time?
Secrets of a happy marriage – Cathy Kelly
Homecoming – Cathy Kelly.
Dead to Me – Lesley Pearse. Love that it was about strong female friendships and personal endurance.
Without a Trace – Lesley Pearse
Just Mercy- Bryan Stevenson *** There is now a movie being made on this book, check it out.
A River of Stars – Vanessa Hua. What a dud, don’t bother.
Me and my Sisters – Sinead Moriarty
The Secrets Sisters Keep – Sinead Moriarty
Between Sisters – Cathy Kelly
This Child of Mine – Sinead Moriarty. Skip it at all costs, this could have been a short story or a novella at best.
Our Secrets and Lies – Sinead Moriarty
Unnatural Causes – Richard Shepherd. This helped with my morbid fascination with dead bodies.
The House on Willow Street – Cathy Kelly
I owe you one – Sophie Kinsella
Washington Black – Esi Edugyan. This was certainly an over hyped book, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie *** I simply loved it, check it out.
My book of the year was The Great Believers. This book deals with the burden of being left behind to confront the memories of a sad time. Also, just how far we have come since the first days of the AIDS scourge. Please do yourself a favour and also read it.
Enthusiastic recommendations for reads that will provide you with abundant reasons to rejoice, reflect or recharge, as suggested by TED speakers and TED-Ed educators. If you’re searching for some calm The Peace of Wild Things: And Other Poems by Wendell Berry This little book of poetry is my current morning dose of calm, and I use…
Today, I want to focus on my parents and the values they have imparted in me that I admire and hope to replicate with my children.
Their work ethic. My parents inspired my sisters and I to work hard, to be our best and not to be limited by gender, our circumstances or other life setbacks. They themselves came from such humble beginnings and accomplished so much that by their actions and choices, you were inspired to try your best.
Their relationship with money. As far as I know, my parents never bought anything on credit. If they couldn’t save and get it, they did not get it. Also, to save all your money, save even if you have no immediate plans, just save.
Family first. My sisters and I always knew (know) that we were important and that we mattered to them, that they gave us their best and withheld nothing from us. They loved and even, liked us, and we never doubted this. We are our parents best investment and choice and there is something comforting in that.
I love that their parenting style did not require them to compare any of us. To them, we are unique, we are individuals and each success was celebrated on its own and each failure dealt with separately. As a result, all five of us are friends and continue to do the same thing with each other to date.
Faith and the role of God. He is over and above all things, always has and always has been.
Choice. Marry when you want, there is no pressure to marry or in fact conform because we are women. Study what you want at school – whether Physics or Home science. Learn how to slaughter a chicken or change a tyre, just because you are only girls, you still need to know.
I recently went through an exercise to define my top values in life and it made me very reflective because values are something you never think of until someone crosses it then you realise, woah! something is off here.
My faith in God is something that I feel very strongly about and hope that people realise when they meet me. It guides my decisions, my reactions and my feelings through life. I believe in One God, the Father the Almighty, One God in Three Persons, He died and rose again and will return. That God, even when things in life go against this thinking, my prayer is I stand in my belief in God.
Family is very important to me. Loyalty to family, love for family. Enjoying your family. My sisters are truly God’s best gift to me and if we weren’t related, I would still want to know. My folks are the bomb.com. I always say that I would pay good money to live with them for a month some where. With the Mr, the idea is to make our home a home so we both have this enabling and loving environment where we both return to and just want to dwell in and enjoy each other. As you get older and refine your circle of friends, you ostensibly end up with friends that are like family and it is important to cherish those as well and invest in them. Friendship is important.
Serving God and fellow man is another thing of importance to me. If I do not give back to those that are less fortunate, if I am not moved by the plight of those less fortunate than me, then what I have is not worth it. Serving in Church is an expression of my faith and that must be done but I also still delight in that.
Working hard and being my best given my constraints is important. I love to set goals and work towards them and that feeling of meeting them and sometimes even exceeding expectations is so refreshing. I am not so concerned about being the first or the best, but being my best is good enough.
How I work hard is by being resilient. I take stock of the failure or the setbacks and then moving forward. I care about meeting my goals and not giving up when things are tough or not going as well as I expected.
Stability and Freedom that often comes from being educated or being financially stable. Also, from having family or friends do what they say they will, when they will do it. It helps clarify life and make things much simpler for you to really perform at that optimum level. As a worker, I also find that I like the autonomy to make my own decisions and work at my own pace as opposed to being micro-managed.
Fun and Play because you need to refresh, slow down and enjoy the successes otherwise they are useful and you do not perform at your optimum. For me this looks like reading books, listening to music, hanging with friends and family, journaling, watching telly or traveling.
What are your top values? What defines you and makes you unique?
You know those books that everyone raves about and then try as you might you just can’t get into them and then when you do it just feels like they will neither start nor end? Well, these are mine, now I just stop and move onto the next book
In March and April I read these two letters between female friends. Both of them touch of womanhood and issues of feminism which although books are written almost four decades apart, are still so relevant and applicable to the plight of women. All in all, they are both great books so I will talk about the common themes that struck a note with me.
Maintain your identity that is separate from your role as a mother, a wife, a sister-in-law. Maintain that single identity and I would even venture to say, keep pursuing those interests you have and love to do.
Make your partner a full partner. From Dear Ijeawele, this is quite obvious and self-explanatory. From So Long …. it’s not quite obvious but I like Aissatou (the friend)’s response when her husband married a second wife, she held him immediately accountable and left the marriage. Many called her names and wished something else of her but she held him accountable and did what she had to do.
Both authors talk about centering marriage in the right place as a nice to have/do but not the penultimate accomplishment. Marriage is neither good nor bad, but how we aspire to it could be.
Both writers caution each other against assigning certain roles to male or female children and the assumptions we make or impute. The future is not one where boys (girls) can do certain things that girls (boys) cannot. Also the language that we use when we explain the roles and responsibilities to kids also matters a lot.
The entire letter is an ode to female friendship which I totally loved and would therefore recommend both books. You can easily get through both in a single sitting or weekend.
I read this book over the December holidays and was sooo excited, I am not sure what happened and it’s almost four months later that I am here gushing about it. Urgggh!! Please see below my thoughts under the different themes, page numbers are provided in brackets for you to follow.
This is a book for us women, refugees, blacks (6) and I totally totally agree.
I love that our time in Nairobi overlap – when she returns from Canada. I know all the landmarks she mentions of Nairobi. It felt so good to read a book about a place that I knew and know of so intimately. Double yay!!
I thought it was odd that she kept referring to her folks as Mummy and Baba??? So odd coz those are two different languages in my head and I would have gone with either Mummy and Daddy or Mama and Baba.
I wondered also why she protects the names of her own kids but not Simon’s eldest two. Not sure what that’s about is it maybe that they are adults and the other two are minors?
The things said to them about a male child being preferred to daughters. And how this is often blamed on the mother in a way that gives the husband carte blanche to stray in the name of looking for a son (pp 7 – 27). I know this reality all too well and all I think is Biology lessons are important for all.
It’s so subtle but her talking about not participating in the street games and fights as much as the local kids do coz it could turn on you:
“I had to choose how I would distinguish myself and I knew that it had to be safe.”(9)
The plight of house girls and domestic workers – all too relatable ( 50).
Having read Pumla’s Rape, it resonated with me how she spoke about the incident of being sexually attacked: her response and that of the adults around her (52 -55). Also, in the light of #MeToo, I thought it quite bold that she opened up about this incident.
The urgency for them to receive their citizenship. Yeah, I get that (67 – 68).
I remember the following events but was probably too young to consider their true impact on history: Chris Hani, Mandelas release, the IFP-sponsored murders and the election.
Growing up Foreign
Being called an African monkey. While that did not happen to me, I know about being called a refugee almost as though it was a dirty swear word.
And the rules that their mom had them follow because growing up in another country with parents working full time, there is not a big social infrastructure to support the parents. So rules are key or in young people speak, rules are bae.
“… the immigrant child knows that outside is one thing but home is another country.” (83)
“The immigrant child knows that the key to survival is in the inflection points. … The key to survival is in blending in first, in learning how to be just like else as a first step to freedom. You have to know how the inside works before you can stand outside and make everybody laugh.” (90)
“The immigrant child doesn’t make any noise. … She is preparing for the day when she will have mastered the art of being normal so that she can stand out.” (90)
How she always talks of her sisters, so beautiful and in some way the story is as much about them as it is her. Yay sisterhood.
Being foreign in South Africa has shown me that White ones are still preferred to Black ones. Sad but fact!
On discovering that your mom is not just a role – mom, wife, friend, daughter – but actually a woman with dreams, feelings and thoughts quite apart from me even. GASP, SHOCKING.
How their mom almost became like an older fourth sister but their dad remained a dad. I find this to be the truth with us too.
“To know your mother as an adult is to finally see that she has lived many more years as a woman than you have been alive. To be a grown woman who loves her mother is to understand that it is no easy thing to raise children so beautifully that they don’t worry about you until they are grown up and ready to carry the complex burden of that anxiety.” (304)
Class: I enjoyed reading about her relationship with her nanny especially when they were both pregnant. I thought it was the most honest tale by a middle class Black woman that I could totally relate to.
So please go out, buy the book read, it, share it and enjoy it.
When Breath Becomes Air: Paul Kalanithi– I cried after reading this one. It made me think of legacies and the things that drive me.
Small Great Acts: Jodi Piccoult – I love her writing and as usual, there was a deep ethical question to ponder.
An Elegy for Easterly: Pettinah Gappah – I am not a big short stories fan but I love the author and the stories did not disappoint. Must admit to the fact that I kept thinking back to these stories during Mugabe’s exit.
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City: Matthew Desmond – I love these kinds of books that delve into one deep topic. It was interesting to also see how eviction has interlinkages with so many other issues: unemployment, poverty, crime, food shortages.
The Mothers: Brit Bennett – I enjoyed this read, it was an easy read but raised so many questions for me – especially on the role of faith in our lives.
The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Pearce: Jeff Hobbs – Forgetting whether it is the author’s story to tell, this book broke my heart. For anyone that wants to read Hillbilly Elegy, I would rather recommend this one.
Stay With Me: Ayobami Adebayo – Loved, loved, loved this one. Definitely recommending it to one and all.
This definition of her: to go from her father to her husband, to be pretty, docile – a man made tragedy. Her soul was made of larger, more powerful things, things that create or desecrate armies and galaxies. This is why when she loves she changes kingdoms, and when she hates she destroys legacies. Nikita Gill, Jasmine, A Princess That Belonged To Herself First