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A close friendship is one of the most influential and important relationships a human life can contain. Anyone will tell you that! But for all the rosy sentiments surrounding friendship, most people don’t talk much about what it really takes to stay close for the long haul.
Now two friends, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, tell the story of their equally messy and life-affirming Big Friendship in this honest and hilarious book that chronicles their first decade in one another’s lives. As the hosts of the hit podcast Call Your Girlfriend, they’ve become known for frank and intimate conversations. In this book, they bring that energy to their own friendship—its joys and its pitfalls.
Aminatou and Ann define Big Friendship as a strong, significant bond that transcends life phases, geographical locations, and emotional shifts. And they should know: the two have had moments of charmed bliss and deep frustration, of profound connection and gut-wrenching alienation. They have weathered life-threatening health scares, getting fired from their dream jobs, and one unfortunate Thanksgiving dinner eaten in a car in a parking lot in Rancho Cucamonga. Through interviews with friends and experts, they have come to understand that their struggles are not unique. And that the most important part of a Big Friendship is making the decision to invest in one another again and again.
An inspiring and entertaining testament to the power of society’s most underappreciated relationship, Big Friendship will invite you to think about how your own bonds are formed, challenged, and preserved. It is a call to value your friendships in all of their complexity. Actively choose them. And, sometimes, fight for them.
About the Author
Aminatou Sow is a writer, interviewer, and cultural commentator. She is a frequent public speaker whose talks and interviews lead to candid conversations about ambition, money, and power. Aminatou lives in Brooklyn.
Ann Friedman is a journalist, essayist, and media entrepreneur. She is a contributing editor to The Gentlewoman. Every Friday, she sends a popular email newsletter. Ann lives in Los Angeles.
“[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.”
"Brilliant and honest."
— Katie Couric
"A cozy, earnest read...Big Friendship is unfailingly warm. Writing with the crystalline hindsight of friends who learned the hard way, Sow and Friedman reveal the hidden origins of the schisms they paid good money for a therapist to help them heal. After reading this book, their readers might not have to."
“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."