A heartfelt and winningly optimistic guide to understanding—and finding more—friendship.



An analysis of the challenges of making friends in the modern world.

Vellos has trained as a facilitator and conducted hundreds of hours of workshops on building communities and forming adult friendships, and in her nonfiction debut, she attempts to break down the nature of friendship in the “always on” 21st century—its roots, its potential obstacles, its most familiar patterns, and some strategies for its improvement. The stakes have never been higher, she says: “the average American hasn’t made one new friend in the last five years.” And the price for this trend is steep: Loneliness and isolation place enormous stresses on the body and the mind. Vellos distills her wide reading and dozens of interviews on the subject into an assessment of what she terms “platonic longing,” the desire felt by increasing numbers of people for the simple joys of close friendship. She addresses her book to readers who’ve found they have nobody with whom to share moments of pain, confusion, or joy—to those, for example, who’ve gone on a dating app and wondered if it might work if they’re looking only for friendship or who have tried friend-matching apps too and found that the great connections they promised haven't materialized. She outlines many approaches to the complexities of friendship, from upping “your dosage” (simply trying to create more friendship time with friends you already have) to practicing greater honesty when meeting potential friends. Throughout she focuses on the basics of friendship that writers from Cicero to Norman Vincent Peale have stressed: openness, flexibility, and, most of all, commitment. “No amount of ‘I really like you too’s’ will convince someone that you want to be friends if you don't take actions to make time and space for them in your life,” she says. The sheer amount of energy and inventiveness on display in these pages, engagingly written and illustrated by the author, will give even the most jaded some hope for more friendships in the future.

A heartfelt and winningly optimistic guide to understanding—and finding more—friendship.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73437-970-9

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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