Rachel Bertsche moves to Chicago so that she and her boyfriend can finally be in the same place together. But it isn’t long after she’s gotten married that she realizes that her life is lacking in the best friend department. She has lots of long distance BFFs, but no one to hang out with in her actual town. So she sets off on a quest: 52 friend dates in a year in an attempt to gain a new best friend (or more) in her current city.
What you see is what you get with Bertsche’s memoir of her friend-dates and search for a new best friend. She chronicles her attempts to meet new people, and some of the meetings go well, and some of them don’t. Is there some interesting stuff here? Yes, of course. But there’s also an in-authenticity that comes with writing a memoir that involves some sort of goal or quest.
Things that do work her work fairly well in this memoir are her ruminations on friendship as she continues to meet a variety of women. She goes out on “girl dates” with women older than her, younger than her, and in between. She meets women from different walks of life who are in different places of life, and some of this leads to reflection on what female friendship is, and what it isn’t.
There are things here that I didn’t much care for, either. I think the book starts to drag in the middle, and Bertsche clearly felt like she needed to add content to it, too, because she delves too often into other issues like weight, insecurity, etc. It felt like pandering to the audience, and it wasn’t necessary in the least.
There’s also a fair amount of privilege at play here, and that won’t sit well with some readers. The sheer cost alone of what Bertsche sets out to do (and she does acknowledge this) is not something that many could undertake. Bertsche has the money and the privilege of time to do all these things, and that gets a little grating at times.
I’m not sure what I wanted this one to be, but I did want it to be better than it was.
MWF Seeking BFF by Rachel Bertsche. Ballantine Books: 2011. Borrowed copy.