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She Matters: A Life in Friendships

3.04  ·  Rating Details ·  912 Ratings  ·  185 Reviews
A ruthless and illuminating exploration of the friendships that dominated, influenced, nourished, inspired, haunted—and sometimes tore her apart—Susanna Sonnenberg has written a book as searing and superb as her first book about her mother, Her Last Death. Childhood friendships, friendships with older women, friendships that play out with the passion and intensity of love ...more
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Scribner
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Jun 14, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was ok
The reviews I read on this book had me thinking it would be a great commentary on female friendships and how strong and necessary they are. I was very disappointed. The author's view on female "friendships" mostly consisted of what SHE could get out of the friendship. Before I was done with the first chapter, it was clear to me the author was not someone I'd like to have as a friend, and she (whether knowingly or not) painted a truly selfish, narcissitic picture of herself throughout the book. ...more
Feb 09, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it
Though I thought it ended rather abruptly, I truly enjoyed this book by the end. I must admit to being attracted to any story that involves a level of dysfunction. I also found myself fascinated by her ability to break down each friendship and see it for what it truly was/is, with an honesty that I marvel at. I found the very frank moments kind of refreshing and I would be a liar if I said it hadn't got me thinking more about the friends I have had. I am now reflecting on what they meant to me ...more
Cara Simmons
Jan 20, 2013 Cara Simmons rated it did not like it
I tried to separate the writing from the writer. After reading her first memoir, I wanted to like both.

The writing depended on a lifetime of failed friendships, and ultimately, the writing failed because the writer relied on the stories writing themselves.

I didn't finish the book because I lost interest.

I rolled my eyes a lot and felt that her narcissism got in the way of any real growth, in both the writing and her own development.

I kept thinking she would be happier and better off with a wo
Donnie Marsh
Jun 04, 2013 Donnie Marsh rated it it was amazing
Susanna Sonnenberg isn't perfect. She Matters: A Life in Friendshipsis.

Sonnenberg didn't have a conventional childhood: She was privileged. There are mansions, boarding schools, a life she didn't choose. Would she have it all again? That's her business. As a writer, she has the responsibility of total honesty. Few consider readers have responsibility as well. When we slap down $24 for a hardcover, an open mind is necessary. The nonfiction contract is she will be honest and we will listen.

This i
Jan 25, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it
Female friendship can be every bit as complex, intense and rewarding as a marriage. Having had many ups and downs with female friends, I was excited to see Sonnenberg's memoir, which delves into more than a dozen different relationships the author has had with women, in an attempt to unpick some of the themes and needs that bring women together and drive them apart. Certainly, Sonnenberg is well-qualified to write this book. She has had every variety of female friendship: older friends/mentors, ...more
Jocelyn Rubinetti
Apr 18, 2013 Jocelyn Rubinetti rated it did not like it
I finished the book so I could participate in book club.

I walk away with a few thoughts:
1) having a maternal role model is very important in a young girl's life; without one, as a girl matures, she makes fruitless attempts at replicating that missing role through failed relationships;
2) I am forever grateful that my mother was (and still is) an incredible role model for me and my sister;
3) I will strive to be a role model for my daughters and count my blessings that my daughters also ha
Sep 07, 2013 David rated it it was ok
This was her second memoir -- mentions a number of times the first one, which apparently focused on growing up with an extremely irresponsible mother. In this one, lots of her difficulties with female friends get attributed to her issues with her Mom.

On the plus side, she has a way with words and makes some vivid observations of people (e.g., about how disconcerting it is to re-meet someone as an adult whom you knew as a child) and places (e.g., Missoula, Montana, where she lives).

The pluses are
Sarah Beth
Jan 25, 2013 Sarah Beth rated it really liked it
This is a GoodReads First Reads Giveaways review.
Sonnenberg's recollection of friendships she has shared, past and present, is blatantly honest and humorous. She uses vivid colors that saturate her canvas as she paints a picture we probably have all seen before whether we'd like to admit it or not. If you look up the word "friend" in the dictionary, it provides several definitions. Each one perfectly fitting, depending on which friend one may be referring to of course. One defines a "friend" as
Dec 24, 2012 Jaime rated it really liked it
Sonnenberg’s recollection of friendships she has shared, past and present, is blatantly honest and humorous. She uses vivid colors that saturate her canvas as she paints a picture we probably have all seen before whether we’d like to admit it or not. If you look up the word “friend” in the dictionary, it provides several definitions. Each one perfectly fitting, depending on which friend one may be referring to of course. One defines a “friend” as a member of the same nation or party. Now, ...more
Amanda Coffey
Feb 07, 2013 Amanda Coffey rated it really liked it
I heard about this book on NPR one day and immediately went home and got it on my Nook. I can't say it was a great book, but it was really a very good book. It actually is not just about friendship, but also about boundaries and personal growth. Susanna Sonnenberg took a good look at herself over the years and delivered these stories with a very honest dialogue about herself. She owns her shortcomings and failures and is completely unapologetic about her faults. I know in my lifetime I've had a ...more
Aug 16, 2012 Lauren rated it it was ok
I loved Sonnenberg's first book, an account of growing up with a troubled and abusive mother. And while I enjoyed this book at first, I eventually put it down out of sheer exhaustion. The author is like a blood-sucker, needy and selfish, wanting more from her friends, while refusing to give anything in return - I was so sick of her! No wonder all her friends leave her, she's like a carbon copy of her crazy mom!
Holly Robinson
Jul 31, 2013 Holly Robinson rated it it was amazing
I find it astonishing that reviews of Susanna Sonnenberg's searingly honest memoir about friendships are so divided. Then again, maybe I shouldn't be surprised: Women are emotionally complex, so it makes sense that our friendships are, too.

Our friends are mirrors, showing us different sides of ourselves, and our relationships with them transform as we march through the different stages of our lives. The biggest life events like motherhood, marriage, divorce, grief and love have the potential to
Feb 24, 2013 Christine rated it really liked it
What a refreshing way to write a memoir: by detailing friendships one has had over the course of one's life. While reading Sonnenberg's accounts,
readers will be hard-pressed not to examine their own friendships; their evolutions and endings. While at times Sonnenberg may leave the reader questioning her role in the demise of certain relationships, she also evokes sympathy given Sonnenberg's distant relationship with her mother, which, it appear, is detailed in another memoir, titled Her Last De
Jun 02, 2015 Stina rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
This woman is a terrible friend who wonders why she doesn't have meaningful friendships. Ugh.
Chantal Johnson
I felt conflicted after I finished this essay style tell-all from Sonnenberg about her past female friendships. While I devoured her writing, which I thought was open, honest, and even dangerous, this book ended up not being what I'd hoped it been. Which I think actually ended up being a good thing. She Matters doesn't offer the cookie cutter version of female friendship that is often portrayed. It's so raw that it often made me uncomfortable. Sonnenberg is about 25 years older than me, so I've ...more
Jul 07, 2014 Shirley rated it it was ok
I read this book with great eagerness as I wanted to know if I was the only one who sometimes struggled with the "girlfriend" relationship and I now know, at least two of us in the world have that issue:)

Sonnenberg's ledger of bff's was considerably more varied than mine but I totally understood all the places in which she found herself due to the vicissitudes of the friend terrain. In the beginning, we naturally fall into situations with people at school, church, or in the neighborhood. And we
Jan 19, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
This is the truest account of friendships between women that I have ever read. Susanna can write about anything and I'll just swoon over her poetic voice but this book exemplifies what it's really like to be a woman looking for kinship in this generation. She has a plethora of people who come into her life at various points and she recounts with great detail the occasions that brought them together, what kept them afloat and then more often than not what broke them up. Some of it is sad, some ...more
Kelly O'toole
Mar 14, 2013 Kelly O'toole rated it really liked it
I don't think I've ever read a book that so thoroughly examines the nuances of friendships between women. Susanna puts her relationships under a microscope and the results are fascinating. But I'm a person who also puts all her relationships under a microscope. I can see some people being bored by such close scrutiny of 20 relationships. Not I. I love reading how each relationship affected the author. But the book is more about friendship. It's also about self awareness. The three sections are ...more
Mar 16, 2013 Lena added it
Shelves: memoir
I was very curious when I first heard about this book, which I understood to be an examination of the rich and complex topic of female friendships.

40 pages in, however, all I've experienced is detailed descriptions of some of the author's friendships. While there are a couple of brief flickers of insight in the opening chapter, the author seems far too absorbed in the telling of her own story to offer much in the way of universal illumination about the greater topic. Perhaps this changes as the
Jan 20, 2014 Leslie rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir-read

I appreciated the author's ability to see the friendships that fade, break and flourish. I also thought there was an honesty in her presentation of her side. She owned her own "poor" behavior and also was vulnerable enough to admit a friendship that imploded (but she never understood why.). I saw myself in some of these and friends in others. Also, she conveys how much she cares about these friends regardless of what happened after. An interesting emotional examination of the complexities and b
Jan 13, 2013 GalwayGirl rated it really liked it
This is incredibly raw, a completely honest telling of her experiences and I am awed by how much she bares her soul. A fascinating insight into her friendships but with so many parallels to my own experiences & highly likely most women's.

At times quite sad to read the stories of lost friends, makes you recall similar experiences in your own life which is not the most pleasant way to spend time. But it does lend itself to possible insights that could be helpful. It may even offer the possibi
Feb 28, 2013 Ginny rated it it was ok
I was expecting a feel good book about friendships but I found this book somewhat depressing. I had a hard time getting into it and every chapter was a new story of the "friends" she encountered during her life. I know friendships can't always be happy and carefree and the author does write with humor and honesty, I just didn't find it that great.
Dec 20, 2012 Mary rated it liked it
I too loved her first book, Her Last Death, but this one left me feeling sad. I think that her relationships with her friends were effected by the relationship she had with her mother. So many of them end so badly, it was rather sad. It makes you wonder just what the other person in that relationship thought.
Feb 17, 2013 Lorelei rated it did not like it
I was as disappointed in this book as the author was of her friends.
Jenny Shank
Jan 20, 2013 Jenny Shank rated it liked it

She Matters
A Life in Friendships
Susanna Sonnenberg
(Scribner, $24)

By JENNY SHANK Special Contributor

Published: 11 January 2013 06:44 PM

Susanna Sonnenberg’s 2008 memoir Her Last Death detailed her Manhattan childhood with an extravagant, inappropriate and singularly crazy mother who followed “cocaine-fierce days” with “sluggish comas on the bed.”

She escaped her mother’s orbit, moving to Missoula to marry, work and raise two sons. In She Matters: A Life in Fr
Jul 21, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it
A raw and honest look at female kinships and friendships. Susanna Sonnenberg bares her soul in this collection of individual stories that explores the relationships she’s had with women throughout her life and her struggle to find herself, perhaps even define herself within the parameters of these interactions. Throughout She Matters: A Life in Friendships we meet a diverse range of women who are, for better or worse, a reflection of the author’s hidden insecurities and desperate longing for the ...more
Mar 12, 2013 Mythili rated it really liked it
One of the earliest stories in this searing volume recalls the weekend when author Susanna Sonnenberg’s mother visits her in college, meets her roommate Amy, and sets out to discover her secrets. She succeeds. After Amy confesses she and her boyfriend are having sex, Sonnenberg’s mother plans a birth-control expedition to Planned Parenthood with the girls. Amy is impressed—until her own parents appear a few hours later and Sonnenberg’s mother, “enjoying her dorm-room dominion, reassure[s] them ...more
Apr 27, 2013 Denise rated it liked it
3.o out of 5 stars - This memoir about female friendships was not exactly what I had expected, it was the author describing the ups and downs with her own friends throughout her life, and not a study of female friendships in general. Each chapter basically dealt with a different woman and how the author met and interacted with her. I was particularly annoyed by a couple of instances where the author and a friend were having intimate disclosures and the friend told a secret which was not shared ...more
May 18, 2015 Leonard rated it it was ok
I thought this memoir would given me some more insights on how women function and interacts with other women. I was also attracted to it because I'm very interested in the topic of friendship. It is well written and reads like a novel, which is a compliment, of course. I found it interesting during the first of seven discs since I listened to it. However shortly after that my attention began to wane and I found myself wishing it would soon be over. When I forgot disc four and left it in the car, ...more
Sep 01, 2014 megan-redwitch rated it it was ok
i wanted this book to be better. but it is just wanting. the author doesn't so much evaluate women's friendship as dissect her own thoughts & actions towards her friends in a egocentric / what they did or should have done for me way. to her credit she at times notes this failing of her own ability to connect, but more often than not she sounds simply whiny & unwilling to reflect on what it really means to be in a friendship. i myself have struggled w. having female friends for many ...more
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“I might have asked, figured her out, led her to open up. I was good at that. But I didn't inquire, a punishment. I didn't let anger go, habit from the dangerous family I'd left behind, from being leery of women. I was good at that, too, the guarded disappointment.” 3 likes
“My mother's perpetual now, tempting me with possibility. Weren't we silly, she might say? What was the matter with us? Let's be close again. My doomed and complicated longing surged, and I had to hang up. The two of us had no now. Our furious fires had burned everything to the ground. As I'd grown, each time I brought my mother in, called for her, or let her advise my course, I was ruptured.” 1 likes
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