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While I was writing Before Everything, I thought a lot about other books on female friendship. I was surprised that there are so few for a subject that is one of the most cherished and vital aspects of any woman’s life. Many novels, perhaps driven by the need for conflict, highlight the tortured or betrayed friendship. What about the ways that female friendship emboldens women’s lives and makes possible a frame for living more adventurously?
Before Everything is about the challenges, complications, and pleasures of women’s friendship over a lifetime—it’s about the power and endurance of friendship, and the effect one life can have on those around her. Ming, Molly, Anna, Helen, and Caroline, now in their early 50’s, have a friendship that has thrived since childhood, one that has accommodated an enlarging circle of new friends born out of their different jobs, neighborhoods and marriage choices. They’ve participated in each stage of one another’s lives. Now they are facing the loss of one of their own as Anna, the group leader, makes the choice to stop medical treatment and each woman must face her own relationship to friendship and mortality. From two of my all-time favorite childhood books: The novel Heidi and Helen Keller’s autobiography The Story of My Life, I forged a belief that the closeness between girls might remain essential in adult life. Here are some books I love that celebrate the diversity of female friendships from childhood through adulthood.
Featured image: Volodymyr Tverdokhlib/Shutterstock.com; Author Photo: © Sigrid Estrada