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Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
Narrative nonfiction

Big Friendship

Debut

We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, on your first book!

by Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman

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Quick take

Grab your BFF. This book explores female friendship from all angles, including its highs, lows, and rewarding feels.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_SocialIssues

    Social issues

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_WellKnownAuthor

    Famous author

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FemaleFriendship

    Female friendships

Synopsis

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.

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. 

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Big Friendship.
Big Friendship

Prologue

It should have been a perfect weekend. The entrance to the spa was a white mission-style building with a wide arched doorway and the words “Natural Baths” in relief above. Beyond it was the real draw, an Olympic-size mineral pool with licks of steam slowly peeling off it. The scene was ringed with hills and palms. And as the Northern California sun dipped behind the pines, there we were: two women sitting on parallel beds in one of the picture-perfect cottages on the property. We were each wrapped in a fluffy white bathrobe. Ann was on the phone ordering a pizza and a Caesar salad, and Aminatou was deciding what movie to watch. The only thing on the schedule for the next 48 hours was a series of side-by-side spa treatments—with plenty of time for floating in the pool.

The emails we sent in advance of the trip were all exclamation points and promises. “Totes getting a mud bath but feeling conflicted about body scrub. Maybe a facial??” “Oooh, the mud bath is included!” “Y E S to free mud bath! and to this lil getaway.” Once we arrived, we texted cheerful updates to mutual friends who weren’t on the trip: “Hi from the spa in Napa!” On social media we posted cute photos of our matching animal-print shoes and beautiful scenes of the sun glinting on the surface of that 92-degrees natural hot-spring pool.

By all outward appearances, we were two healthy, wealthy women on a gorgeous getaway. This was the stuff of stereotypical “girls’ trips,” the sort of extravagant vacation we had dreamed about taking when we first met as broke 20-somethings. Years deep into our friendship, with so many of our professional aspirations starting to come to fruition and big pieces of our lives starting to snap into place, our unhurried hours at the spa should have been every bit as idyllic as the photos made it out to be.

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Why I love it

We have to admit: We knew we would enjoy a book about the friendship of Aminatou and Ann, two accomplished, feminist women, whose podcast we both love. We knew we would relate, having similarly created our own podcast with two others, an iconic queer friendship-quartet in which the spark was immediate, and remains palpable. What we weren’t prepared for was the depth of our emotional investment in this friendship that, ostensibly, has nothing to do with us. It grew with every margarita, mud bath, and Gchat conversation—as though it were the story of our own adult-formed and tightly-cherished friendship. Which, in a way, it is!

Right! What Tommy loves is that it doesn’t shy away from the difficult aspects of friendship, like the conflicts, the strains, and the silences. Can you imagine performing a friendship in public, while privately that friendship is dissolving? You can feel the pressure and the tension. Tommy also loves that while the book is telling the story of two people’s very specific friendship, it acts as a practical guide for talking through difficult silences, for lateral career shine-giving, and the difficulties of an interracial friendship. Oh, and as a person who doesn’t particularly yearn for romantic love, Tommy felt like he’d been waiting his whole life for a book that gives platonic love the same respect and care as romantic love. That was very real for Tommy!

So real! What was real for Dennis was the moment they learned about Ann’s breakup with her boyfriend in DC—the same guy she’d moved there to be with—and how Aminatou was her safe harbor during that difficult transition. And similarly, their heart was jumping out of their chest when Aminatou had a difficult lunch with her father, in part because she felt her professional life was in shambles, and Ann was there for her in the best way possible: she gave her Xanax. Friends who know when to lend an ear and pair it with Xanax are friends who will stand the test of time! And Tommy, Dennis will give you Xanax anytime you want.

Ultimately, what makes Big Friendship so special is the way it gives friendship a turn in the spotlight. Stories and jokes are shared, we laughed and we cried, and in the end we were grateful to ride along on Ann and Aminatou’s journey. Big Friendship boldly steps into the relatively unfamiliar territory of taking platonic, non-sexual intimacy as seriously as romantic intimacy. It owns the fact that for many of us, queer folks and otherwise, it is our friendships that are sustained over time, that provide us with the safety and support that we need to mold our lives in the images of our own choosing.

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Member ratings (7,792)

  • Kathryn S.

    Springfield, MA

    Enjoyed the use of speech in this book; it felt as though i was listening to the “call your girlfriend” podcast. There are many tidbits gained from this book that i am now practicing in relationships.

  • Skyla Y.

    Hampton, VA

    It made me reflect on my own personal relationships. I laughed and cried. I felt grateful yet sad. It’s got so many thoughts put on paper & you’re just like YES!! The duo you didn’t know you needed!

  • Kathryn V.

    Arlington, VA

    I loved this book! I expected it to be super wishy washy, but it ended up being so real and honest. The “we” voice throughout was really interesting too. I thought it would be jarring but it was great

  • Catherine D.

    Atlanta, GA

    I truly enjoyed reading about Aminatou and Ann’s friendship. I loved their vulnerability. The commentary on friendships (big and not) was thought-provoking and made me reflect a lot on my own friends.

  • Claire G.

    San Francisco, CA

    This is the kind of nonfiction I love—it reads like a story but is filled with helpful tidbits and takeaways that readers can use in their own lives/friendships. Inspiring, heartwarming, easy to read.

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