She Matters: A Life in Friendships
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She Matters: A Life in Friendships

3.05 of 5 stars 3.05  ·  rating details  ·  723 ratings  ·  162 reviews
The New York Times called Susanna Sonnenberg “immensely gifted,” and Vogue, “scrupulously unsentimental.” Entertainment Weekly described Sonnenberg’s Her Last Death as “a bracing memoir about growing up rich and glamorous with a savagely inappropriate mother.” Now, Sonnenberg, with her unflinching eye an...more
Hardcover, 255 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Scribner
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Cara Simmons
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...more
Sarah
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
Denise
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 a...more
Donnie Marsh
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...more
Sarah Beth
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...more
Jaime
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, perso...more
Amanda Coffey
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
Holly Robinson
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...more
Jocelyn Rubinetti
Update:
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...more
Rebecca
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. S...more
Anna
This is a beautiful look at how women are friends. Susanna Sonnenberg is strikingly honest and the writing is beautiful. I found myself remembering old friends that had been long forgotten as I read through the snapshots of her relationships with various women throughout her life. I liked that not every detail was explained, that she didn't try to reason out why her friends behaved a certain way. You just saw her side and she didn't try to give you others'. If you treasure the women in your lif...more
Christine
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...more
Lauren
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!
Shirley
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...more
David
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...more
Sarah
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 tr...more
Leslie


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...more
Kelly O'toole
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 e...more
Lena
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...more
GalwayGirl
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...more
Ginny
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.
Mary
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.
Susanna
Sonnenberg is a beautiful writer, and this book is a collection of essays with many insightful observations that provide a pensive look at a wide variety of friendships she's had throughout her life. She is at times heartbreakingly honest. The reader comes away with a strong sense of Sonnenberg's personality, her deep desire for close friendship, and (often repeated) how she ties her neediness back to her narcissistic, distant, and addicted mother. I came away with great compassion for the young...more
Lorelei
I was as disappointed in this book as the author was of her friends.
Sarah
This book makes me itchy and appreciative in equal measure. Sonnenberg's life in friendships provides a fascinating series of recognizable moments, when friendships end, when they begin, when they rekindle. So much in this memoir is relatable, but Sonnenberg's well-explored need for companionship makes the stories blur together a bit after a while. I know where the author began her quest to be a better friend, and I saw her end a better, more mature friend at the book's close. But the middle los...more
Denise
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 a...more
Jenny Shank
http://www.dallasnews.com/entertainme...

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...more
Denise
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
Stacey
Like she expects of her readers, Susanna Sonnenberg siphons the life force of both friends and professionals in pursuit of a pseudo maternal figure. Ironically failing to realize that a mothers role is not to enable and infantize her adult child, but to teach her to develop integrity; taking responsibility for her decisions and apologizing when she has wronged someone. Susanna fails in friendship and motherhood equally, mistaking materialism as the measure of success. She demands the reader to e...more
Julie
this book is a welcome companion to me, as a woman who also has lived through the alternating dance of emotional intimacy and distancing with female friends. sonnenberg's candor about her own baggage (her less-than-successful relationship w her drama queen mother) makes this book earnest and searching. she does not shy away from portraying the messiness of real relationships. each chapter tells the story of her relationship dynamics with one female friend. I liked this format because I could rea...more
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Her Last Death

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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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