Rating: 3 1/2 stars
Recently I cleaned out a storage room I’ve had for more than a decade. The contents mainly consisted of stuff from my childhood and high school years that I couldn’t bear to part with: cards, letters, toys, etc. I also found my junior high and high school yearbooks, all dutifully signed by people that I either couldn’t remember or have lost touch with.
For instance, my friend Ken who shared his gold-plated Lightning Bolt necklace with me in seventh grade. Todd with whom I attended school since sixth grade and who was my date to our high school senior prom. And my best friend Joan, my partner-in-crime from the age of 12 until we graduated high school—and life took over.
Going through the boxes I found letters from my best friend from second grade, Christine, written after my parents moved me “only 45 minutes away.” When you can’t drive, 45 minutes is an eternity. Though we wrote every day and promised to be “sisters forever” our friendship would eventually become a casualty of geographic undesirability.
In Judy Klam’s lastest book Friendkeeping: A Field Guide to the People You Love, Hate, and Can’t Live Without I had kindred spirit—Ms. Klam lost her best friend Rebecca to a 30-minute drive—whose friendships seemed to follow a familiar trajectory.
Using examples from her own friendship experiences, Ms. Klam puts a humorous spin on one of life’s most important necessities: “the need for like-minded people who listen and understand our woes, no matter how trivial.”
Hanging on to tried and true friends is important for a number of reasons. As we age, making friends becomes more difficult, an issue that Ms. Klam illustrates with a combination of simplistic wisdom and subtle warning. Attempting to widen your circle of friends is a delicate operation. You might find someone who may look normal, but may actually be a maniacal American Girl doll collector, or worse—they could be the “human drain:” people who suck out your will to live as they endlessly discuss the fabulousness that is them or the woefulness they cannot seem to shake.
Friendkeeping is a reverential romp through the ghosts of friendship past, the life-affirming ones of our present, and the (hopefully sane) ones to come. And, lurking just below the humor is an important message: Good friends are to be cherished.
In the words of Julie Klam, “Lasting friendships are kind of a miracle, but one that can’t be neglected . . . Friendship might be free, but it requires a real investment.”
Never have truer words been spoken.
Reading level: Ages 18 and up
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (October 25, 2012)