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The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away
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The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women's True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away

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3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  379 ratings  ·  82 reviews
Losing a friend can be as painful and as agonizing as a divorce or the end of a love affair, yet it is rarely written about or even discussed. THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY is the first book to address this near-universal experience, bringing together the brave, eloquent voices of writers like Francine Prose, Katie Roiphe, Dorothy Allison, Elizabeth Strout, Ann Hood, Diana Abu J...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Broadway Books (first published 2005)
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Michelle Jones
The Friend Who Got Away is a collection of essays on friendships lost. More than I’d like to admit I’m haunted by friendships that were once very important to me but now no longer exist. So I was obviously the target audience for this book. While I enjoyed some essays very much I didn’t enjoy the book as a whole. I think I have to blame at least part of my dislike on my sensitivity to the subject matter. My longing for friendships past made me judgmental to the authors in the book who acknowledg...more
Michelle
It's not often that I have dreams about a book I read. Or, at least, not ones that I remember. I had a very strange dream last night about a former friend that I can only explain by the reading of this book. Twenty women, writing an essay about the loss of an influential friendship and the aftereffects. Were they all masterfully written? Probably not. Did I see something relatable in every tale of loss? No. But there was something so human, so vulnerable about the authors opening up about their...more
Kirsti
Apr 07, 2008 Kirsti rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kirsti by: Jen
Shelves: nonfiction, memoir, essays
I knew that Jen was reading this book, and I decided to get a copy for myself. I love the idea behind this book and nearly all the essays in it.

I'm a little confused about why the editors put the weakest and most polarizing essay first, though. Based on "Torch Song," I understand why so many people hate Katie Roiphe. Her essay is about stealing a friend's boyfriend, but it's the way she tells it that made my lip curl. Here's someone who compliments her ex-friend and then immediately implies tha...more
Ciara
of course i had to read this because i am kind of the elder stateswoman of friendships that don't last. in fact, in the three days it took me to read the book, one acquaintanceship (probably considered a friendship by the other person) crashed & burned, & another has been strained possibly to the breaking point.

so, you know, i could kind of relate to a lot of what is in this book. many of the authors engaged in some very self-flagellating brutal honesty, & i think that's a good thin...more
Clare
When I moved back to Minnesota after a 3 month move to California, certain friendships that I had considered strong and valuable just weren't there any more.

I had to assess what went wrong - or what worked - and for a while I felt myself mourning the loss of that friendship.

It's a year later and I have several different groups of friends that nourish me in different ways. Once in a while, I will be reminded of this person, and get a pang of sadness.

So a book titled "The Friend Who Got Away: Twe...more
Gina
when i first came across my book, i thought who would want to read a book like that? why would someone want to read a book about broken friendships that never get resolved? how inspiring could that be? but the more i kept reading the book jacket and the intro, the more i found myself interested. i've been in similar situations before. i was curious to hear another's experience.
i found this topic to be different-- something that was very common, yet rarely ever written. it's compiled of short st...more
Delores
I managed to get about half way through this book but it just didn't hold my attention. Therefore, I stopped reading it. I saw this book in the library, thought it sounded interesting; a collection of essays by women about the friend who got away - we all have one don't we? I'm not sure what I was expecting but the books was a bit of a downer. After a while, all the stories seemed to mush together, sometimes I felt like they were over edited. The slightly more interesting part was in the middle...more
Jen
Have you ever gotten those chain emails that say, "Friends are in our life for a reason or a season or a lifetime"? Well, this book contains stories about those "reason" and "season" friends. These tales made me feel less bad about the friends I've left behind or have been left behind by--it's a very universal experience, a part of being human. But also, by the book's end, I was getting pretty bummed out because it was just one sad story after another. However, it was interesting to read about t...more
Jeffe Kennedy
I used to read - and write - a lot of these sorts of essays. Personal essays, about life-changing events. This collection focuses on the theme of friendships, how they end and why. I really loved reading this. I found every essay illuminating in some way and the women who wrote them - including some who've come up quite a bit in the world since, like Elizabeth Strout - answered some of my questions by exploring their own. I greatly appreciated their generosity because many of these stories had t...more
Lynne-marie
I began with violent enthusiasm, meaning to come out the other side writing several chapters of my own dedicated to several of my friendships: "Dead and gon, Lady. Dead and gone." But as I pushed on, I began to sweat internally as I read, and my dreams were wildly troubled. I began talking in my sleep. Things were being said and done in my dreams that were dangerous to me . . . dangerous and even more than malicious: evil. And they were somehow being done by Old friendships are dangerous territo...more
Lissa
This book is exactly what it says it is: stories of women's friendships that have ended (although, really, some of the essays were about childhood friendships, which don't seem to have the same levels of depth as adult women's friendships). There is practically no analysis or in-depth studies of commonalities or causes; instead, the story is just laid out there, the end.

A few of the stories resonated with me. I mean, haven't we all lost a close friend, whether to death, distance, jealousy, etc?...more
Laurie
I also didn't really like this book.

I felt a lot of the women couldn't see what went wrong when I felt like it was obvious, or that the friendships ended over too trivial of a reason. Sure there were a couple that I truly felt for or could see myself in their shoes but for the most part it did nothing for me.

The best one is a sense was the one that was told from both sides. There at least we got to see how each person interpreted the situation.

I don't know if I agree that we assume friendships...more
Courtney
This collection of essays was more depressing than I thought it would be. I guess I was hoping for some interesting tales where women dissected female relationships, but it wasn't so. There was some reflection in the essays, but not enough. The stories weren't as engaging as I'd hoped they be, but were sad, half seemed to involve miscarriages, and half of the women lived and struggled in New York City. The sad situations were too similar and didn't keep me very interested.
Laura
Excellent anthology. I'm so inspired by the candidness of the writers to not only talk about their former friendships but also to be so upfront about their own transgressions. It is sad and moving and unfair and sweet and made me want to write my own story of the friendships in my life that have gone awry--if not to disclose and reveal and describe, then to discover what it is that actually happened. Highly recommend this.
Lisa Findley
Disregard the terrible cover that makes this look like a girl's guide to running with the big boys in finance or something; this is a wonderful collection of thoughtful, funny, terribly sad essays. The women in these essays reflect on the close friend they no longer talk to, what led them to that point, and how that former friend still affects them. Great stuff.
Ana
I had recently gone through the major loss of a friendship - a friend of 22 years had "broken up" with me. I spotted this title at a library sale and thought that reading through these women's stories of broken friendships might help console me.

I think what I really wanted was to see an example like mine on the page and well, that's impossible. I'd have to write it myself wouldn't I? ;o)

Some of these were very well written and made you feel for the women involved while others just smacked of pet...more
Liz
HEARTBREAKING! BUT SO GOOD!
Julie (julie37619)
Writing
Done well across the board. I enjoyed each story and identified with so many of them. There's a good range of styles and stories, which I think will lend a broad appeal to various readerships. There's something for everyone represented here.

Entertainment Value
Obviously, this is probably going to appeal to a mainly female audience, although there are a few stories that cross genders and sexualities. Within the female demographic, however, I think there's going to be a broad range of reader...more
Suzy
I wanted to read this book because I like to analyze and re-analyze my past friendships, trying to "figure them out," though that is an end time and distance haven't led to, at least for me. I've been the cutter-offer of friendships, half of dramatic "friendship break-ups," and the willing participant in friendships that faded over time. This book didn't answer my "why" and "how," (what book would?) but did comfort me by offering examples of other friendships that ended. Stand-outs for me were t...more
Allison (The Book Wheel)
From The Book Wheel:

The Friend Who Got Away: Twenty Women’s True Life Tales of Friendships that Blew Up, Burned Out or Faded Away by Jenny Offill and Elissa Schappell (author of Blueprints for Building Better Girls, which is on my Kindle) is a book of essays written by women who lost a female friendship. Some were by choice, others by mistake, and a few for no reason at all. As a woman who is entering her 30′s, I have begun to experience first hand the effects of losing a longtime female friends...more
Veena
As someone who's suffered a friendship break-up, I was intrigued by this collection of essays/short stories, but I did not end up relating to the authors as much as I thought I would. There were several stories about women who broke up with friends because they found these women to be "copying" or taking over their identities. Unless your friend is the woman from "Single White Female," I'm not sure why this is such a big deal. There were, however, very moving stories. "Other Women" by Kate Bernh...more
Erin
My dislike of this book is mainly based off what I thought the book was about. Perhaps if I didn't have a wrong impression about the content, I would have liked it more.

I thought the book was about different authors reflecting back on friends that they lost and why those friends were lost. In the last year, I have lost several friends. While I mourn the loss of one of those friends, the others had served purposes in my life and were no longer needed (I know that sounds callous, but is true). For...more
Anne
In most cases, I dislike reading as therapy, but sometimes I self-medicate. And I had a cleansing cry reading these essays about friendships lost -- slowly or in some sudden cataclysmic event. In a fit of restless powerlessness, I made a list of my own personal lost ones. While the writing is strong throughout, as a collection, this book is missing something; maybe it's the loss of so many powerful relationships that waters it down, or the burying of such loss in sometimes too-precious prose. A...more
Ginny
Good read for everyone who's ever loved and lost a dear friend. I have been thinking about my friend from nursing school and wondering whatever happened to her. I saw this book, which is actually twenty different stories about friendship, and thought of her. I have tried to locate her over the years as we were inseparable in nursing school, but to no avail. This book covers the possible reasons why friendships don't last and gives a peak into how other women have tried to figure them out.
Samantha
This book is a collection of "true-life tales of frienships that blew up, burned out, or faded away", but when you get down to it's bare bones, it was a beating. I bought it years ago because it reminded me of a friend that I tossed aside and have been avoiding for several years now. I thought the book would speak to me, help me to fix our friendship or justify my

A few of the stories fulfilled one, and sometimes all, of these ideas. Some of these women held a mirror up to me, showing how the sit...more
Darcy
It was interesting to see different categories of friendship failure emerge- namely "grief" (one person is grieving and the other person wants to be supportive, but the dynamic is ineffective for one of many reasons) and "defining friendship in the context of sameness and then something external shows the two people to be dissimilar".

It wasn't a happy book to read, but it didn't bum me out as much as I expected it to be. The stories/essays were short enough that I didn't feel too much for the ch...more
Izetta Autumn
I read this book a few years ago, and actually found it helpful and interesting. Recently, I went back to revisit it, and was surprised that so few womyn of color were represented - even as I was delighted to see favorites like Elizabeth Prose and Dorothy Allison. There also seemed no mention of cross-cultural friendships, which I think would have made the book even stronger and more interesting.

Even with all that, I agree with Jenny Offill that the topic of lost friendships often taboo or goes...more
Rekha
Ever heard of the "Friendcut?"

http://librarianwonder.blogspot.com/2...

Probably not, since its a cultural term used by my homies in Fiji to describe the act of breaking up with a friend. The concept is hard to explain to those in this country, who give lots of epistemological credence to romantic breakups but hardly any to friendcutting heartbreak. So when I saw this book, I had to read it, to see if it fills that void. It did, as much as one book can. The many different stories give weight to t...more
Katie K
May 08, 2008 Katie K rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Katie by: Librarian Girl
Shelves: grown-up, non-fic
I've never been a huge fan of collections of essays but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this book. It took me a while to get into it (the first three essays didn't seem all that compelling) but once I finally did, I really enjoyed all of the essays, particularly the back to back stories by Emily and Heather, former friends who each contributed the story of their lost friendship. When I got to Emily's essay and realized that I was about to read the other side of the story, I'm pret...more
Amy
Although I didn't love all the stories in this book of essays, there were a few that really spoke to me. That reminded me of my own 'friends who got away' ... that made me sad, frustrated and nostalgic all at once! Friendships are complicated and I think almost everyone has experienced letting go of a friendship or being let go of ... it's pretty universal. As a result, it was really quite interesting to read about the experiences of other women ... their feelings, their motivations, as well as...more
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Jenny Offill is an American author born in Massachusetts. Her first novel Last Things was published in 1999 was a New York Times Notable book and a finalist for the L.A Times First Book Award.

She is also the co-editor with Elissa Schappell of two anthologies of essays and the author of several children's books She teaches in the MFA programs at Brooklyn College, Columbia University and Queens Univ...more
More about Jenny Offill...
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