Sow and Friedman, cohosts of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, debut with a chatty exploration of the benefits and challenges of female friendship. Sow and Friedman describe “the spark” of their initial meeting at a mutual friend’s party in 2009, when they were both in their 20s; how shared projects and an easy, constant flow of communication led to the deeper bond of “chosen family” and the philosophy of “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” But even as they launched a podcast based on their “Shine Theory,” the pair were going through a period marked by miscommunications and the challenges of long-distance and interracial friendships (Sow is black; Friedman is white). Reevaluating the “story of sameness” of their earlier bond, Sow and Friedman enlisted a therapist to help them sort through their issues—not a viable strategy for all, they concede, but an action that reaffirmed their mutual commitment. Though they put their own relationship front and center, the authors incorporate research from social scientists and anecdotes from other people’s lives. Readers whose own “big friendships” aren’t as inextricable as Sow and Friedman’s may balk at their insistence on, say, coordinating outfits (they call it “frog-and-toading”), but this entertaining outing shows young women how they can empower and sustain each other. (July)
[A] thoughtful and highly readable story... Friendship is a choice. With this book, Sow and Friedman remind us that laziness in tending to friendships is dangerous, and that regardless of the circumstance, whether geography or pandemic, friendships must be nourished, or they will wither."
— New York Times Book Review
“Deeply compelling… This is the kind of book that makes you want to reach out to your best, biggest friends to say thank you, thank you, thank you for walking in this world with me. As with your big friendships, this unforgettable book is one you will want to keep close.”
— Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger
“Here, friendship gets the emotional and intellectual respect it deserves; and like any truly great love story, Ann’s and Aminatou’s is a page turner. I love this book. “
—Rebecca Traister, New York Times bestselling author of Good and Mad
"A wonderful and intimate portrayal. A story is as universal as it is revolutionary."
— Hillary Rodham Clinton
“In this openhearted book, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman show us how a friendship can be as rewarding and enduring as a marriage, and they urge us to value it accordingly—as they clearly do. An inspiration."
—Ariel Levy, New York Times bestselling author of The Rules Do Not Apply
"A hilarious coming-of-age story, a heartfelt manifesto, and an ode to the magic of friendship."
— Cecile Richards, New York Times bestselling author of Make Trouble
“So smart, so funny, so honest—it will change the way you think about friendship."
—Jade Chang, author of The Wangs Vs. The World
"Long before all friendships became socially distanced, Aminatou and Ann were showing us how to do it — with radical honesty, vulnerability, and wit."
—Irin Carmon, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
“A gift to any reader who wants to keep and deepen their friendships. Why should romantic love get to take up all the space on the shelf?"
—Saeed Jones, author of How We Fight For Our Lives and Isaac Fitzgerald, author of How to Be a Pirate
“The compassion and open- hearted learning on display here will stay with you for a long time, and remind you of just how transformative close friendships can be."
—Heather Havrilesky, author of the Ask Polly advice column and How to Be a Person in the World
"Joyous, vulnerable, honest, and moving."
—J. Ryan Stradal, New York Times bestselling author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest and The Lager Queen of Minnesota
"In Big Friendship, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman save their friendship - and maybe even yours"
"Netflix, we’re ready for the movie adaptation."
"Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman are the patron saints of friendship."
"Big Friendship is an anatomy of the way one particular friendship works, but it is also an argument for taking all amicable relationships more seriously, for understanding them in the terms we usually reserve for romance (the authors share their “meet cute” and discuss the “spark” and “chemistry” between them), and for appreciating the sometimes difficult and time-consuming work it takes to maintain these friendships.”
“A deeply funny and immensely heartfelt look into what makes a friendship last despite time, distance, trials and major life changes."
"A rich exploration of friendship...Having honed a relationship they compare to the one between Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, [Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow] are well equipped to deliver honest and helpful advice to anyone struggling to maintain a healthy union over time and distance. A soul-searching reflection that delivers an emotional journey to amplify the self-help tips."
— Kirkus Reviews
"In sharing their personal story, alongside research from social scientists, Sow and Friedman highlight what it takes for a friendship to last."
— Time Magazine
“This is an instructive, humbling, and reassuring guidebook to Big Friendship in all its hard work and outsize glory; through both tears and laughter, readers will see themselves in it, and be glad."
"[BIG FRIENDSHIP] couldn't be more apt in the time of COVID-19. Read it with your friends across the country."
"Obsessed with the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend? Then this intimate, frank and hilarious book chronicling the joy and messiness of friendship from its hosts is a must-read. You'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll relate as they share stories of health scares, family drama and, of course, friendship. Plus, Sow and Friedman also interview friends and experts about the complexity of the bond between best friends. Forget BFF necklaces, buy two books and give one to your BFF. "
— E! Online
"Big Friendship will bring a smile to your face, remind you why you love your friends (and sometimes get angry with them too!) and make you want to call your girlfriend."
"Cleverly written...You don’t need to be familiar with these amazing women’s previous works to enjoy this book, but once you finish reading I expect you’ll be so intoxicated by their creative voices that you’ll seek out their podcast immediately."
"This book couldn’t have come at a better time."
— THE GLITTER GUIDE
"Staying in touch with your besties is more important than ever right now. But maintaining friendships, especially for a long time, is hard work. Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, hosts of the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, get super real about what it takes to choose, fight for, and maintain close friendships. May we suggest reading it at the same time as your best friend?"
"Two of the nation’s leading feminists and hosts of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend make the bold and compelling argument that a close friendship is the most influential and important relationship a human life can contain—helping you improve as a person and in your relationships with others."
— African Book Addict
"[BIG FRIENDSHIP] feels more relevant than ever... It's such an important part of our lives, really examining what it takes to sustain a lasting bond and to continuously reconnect and give friendships the kind of energy that we give some of the other relationships in our lives."
Sow and Friedman, hosts of the popular podcast Call Your Girlfriend, practice radical honesty in sharing their story of decades-long friendship, in this generation-defining work that is both a memoir of a friendship and a manifesto for a new sociological designation. Only recently has it become common for women and men to openly acknowledge that friendships require the same kinds of care and emotional investment that familial and romantic bonds do. The authors are not the first to declare that friendship is understudied and undervalued, but they may be the first to write about friendship's place in modern life with such engaging prose and accessibly composed research. Each chapter in the book honors either a milestone in their bonding or a key concept in the sociology of friendship. Sections begin with a story about Sow or Friedman's experiences working, living, and loving in cities like Austin, Washington, DC, or Los Angeles, and end with considered discussion of friendship theory and how it pertains to their lives. VERDICT This vital book will be especially useful for young women as they navigate their relationships and the world, but may also be an important read for older women who are reflecting on how they grew up and who they came of age alongside.—Sierra Dickey, Ctr. for New Americans, Northampton, MA
A rich exploration of friendship by the talented women behind the Call Your Girlfriend podcast.
Sow and Friedman have been best friends since 2009, when they instantly clicked at a Gossip Girl viewing party, but it hasn’t always been easy. They both struggled for years to juggle what David Sedaris calls life’s “four burners”—family, friends, health, and work. Here, the authors delve psychologically and emotionally into the nature of the concept of a “Big Friendship,” whether it’s a long-distance relationship like their own or anyone deemed appropriate to include in one’s “chosen family.” Written in an almost novelistic style, this chronicle of their experiences include Friedman’s difficult decision to strike out on her own as a writer as well as Sow’s medical issues. Those who follow the podcast will be familiar with the authors’ philosophy of “Shine Theory,” described by its creators as “an investment, over the long term, in helping a friend be their best—and relying on their help in return...a conscious decision to bring our full selves to our friendships and to not let insecurity or envy ravage them.” In other words, as Sow told Friedman after one particularly satisfying professional triumph, “I don’t shine if you don’t shine.” Though both authors have achieved remarkable professional success, that doesn’t mean they gloss over their rough patches, including difficult spells that challenged the bonds of their friendship and a conflict involving a painful sociological phenomenon dubbed the “trapdoor of racism,” which forced both women to reevaluate their bond, ultimately resulting in a trip to couples therapy. Having honed a relationship they compare to the one between Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King, the authors are well equipped to deliver honest and helpful advice to anyone struggling to maintain a healthy union over time and distance.
A soul-searching reflection that delivers an emotional journey to amplify the self-help tips.