FRIENDS AS FAMILY by Karen Lindsey


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It may be worthwhile to note in passing that friends are often as close to us as family, particularly in our mobile society. But such an observation does not warrant an entire book, and indeed Lindsey has to strain to keep the whole thing going here. The product of a theatrical family where ""uncles"" and ""aunts"" were seemingly found under every table, she was also rescued from depression by a bevy of caring friends in rotating shifts, so she can perhaps be excused for agonizing over which friends do, indeed, constitute ""family"" and which are just good friends. (Her criteria for the former include being there in emergencies and having a shared history.) But the attempt to indicate that the new ""trend"" has its roots in early American communal living or in the relationship between J. M. Barrie and his ""lost boys"" is plain silly: alternative lifestyles have always existed and presumably always will. Lindsey sees surrogate families springing up wholesale--among college roomies who get together again between marriages, among long-term lovers who maintain separate apartments, among workplace cronies, etc. She interviewed some of these people and came up with fairly lackluster stories told in breathless detail: there's even a quadraplegic living with two other men in what appears to be a thoroughly unremarkable arrangement. Very few hard statistics on the scope of the ""nonbiological"" family, or its longevity; mostly hoopla.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1981
Publisher: Beacon