Culture + Community
April Bibliotherapy with Sivan Bogan
Complicated. Female. Friendships. My current reading topic of choice. I will carry these books in my heart forever.
Silver Girl by Leslie Pietrzyk
I picked this book up in the middle of a reading slump. The cover interested me, and I trusted that. From the first paragraph, I knew I had made the right decision. The story is set against 1980s Chicago, where we follow an obscure young woman starting her first year of college. She meets Jess on the first day, and we are thrust into a deeply rooted friendship of love, jealousy, and secrets. A lot of my friendships growing up felt like the friendship between Jess and our main character, who remains nameless throughout the story. Fast-paced, intense, knowing each other so well and yet not knowing each other at all. The smaller moments, where we are inside the head of our narrator who just wants to be loved and known, are the best parts. The story flashes between different parts of this friendship, from freshman year of college to a summer years later. Both of these girls are so flawed and make decisions that put into question everything you thought you knew about them and their relationship. This book helped me reflect on friendships that have hurt me and dig deeper into the ones that have shaped me.
“But that was later. What was right now: my guilty laughter with Jess and that awful hunk of metal heavy in my hand, the mangled trunk and my cheap Kmart sheets still shrink-wrapped in the package, those words: Because I love you already. She had spoken them easily and simply, like tossing a beanbag to a child, so she couldn’t have recognized what I did: That they were the words I longed most to hear. That is wasn’t so terribly hard to say them. It wasn’t. That this was news to me was the real news to me.”
Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer
I don’t remember where I heard about this book, but the title was so brilliant that I had to know more. Text Me When You Get Home is a book about “the evolution and triumph of modern female friendship.” The topic of complicated female friendships is so ambitious that it’s hard to know where to start. Journalist Kayleen Schaefer tackles it in a way that is easy to read and informative. This book plants little seeds of information that gives you a great overview of female friendships throughout history and pop culture, while also weaving in personal stories about Schaefer’s experiences. It was so validating and interesting to read about the friendships in Big Little Lies and Girls Trip with an analytical approach. To have a book that celebrates the complexities and variations of friendship between women is so powerful.
“This is because women who say, “Text me when you get home,” aren’t just asking for reassurance that you’ve made it to your bed unharmed. It’s not only about safety. It’s about solidarity. It’s about us knowing how unsettling it can feel when you’ve been surrounded by friends and then are suddenly by yourself again…The words, and the corresponding texts we send when we do get home, are a web connecting us, winding through the many moments we spend together and apart, helping us understand that whenever we’re unmoored or terrified or irate or heartbroken or just bored, we’re not by ourselves. It’s a way for women to tell each other, I’m always with you. I won’t forget about you when you walk away. I am here when I’m standing in front of you or any other time you need me, no matter what.”