After moving to Chicago and getting married, Rachel Bertsche quickly comes to the realization that she has no close friends in her new hometown. She has friends and acquaintances, but she doesn’t have a best friend, someone she can call up randomly for Sunday brunch or when she has a fight with her husband. So Rachel takes it upon herself to embark on a search for a new best friend. She vows to go on 52 friend dates in a year, in the hopes of finding her new BFF.
I’ve had this book on my ‘to read’ list for a while now. As someone who has, more than once, moved to a new city without knowing anyone, I fully understand how hard it is to make friends as an adult and I can certainly relate to the author’s situation. I thought the premise of the book sounded interesting and I eagerly started reading to learn how to enlarge my circle of friends.
Rachel’s plan was simple – 52 friend dates in a year. She adopts a positive attitude and doesn’t pass up any opportunity to make new friends in the hopes that one will turn out to be her best friend. Some of the ways she goes about meeting new people were ideas I have never thought of before, such as joining a church organization (if you are religious), joining Meetup, or joining other women’s organizations. She asks her friends to set her up with people they may know, she writes a blog, she tries speed-friend-dating (I didn’t know that existed!), and she reaches out to people she meets while shopping or eating, including asking the waitress out to brunch and asking the clerk at her favorite shop to meet for cocktails. She takes a cooking class, writes a personal ad seeking friends, and eventually goes to a friend matchmaker.
Rachel is honest about her search and her insecurities. Would people think she was strange when she told them she was looking to make new friends? For some reason, when we are children, it is okay to ask strangers if they want to be your friend. But when we are adults, there is this perception that the same question seems needy or that there must be something wrong with you if you don’t have any friends. Rachel tackles this issue with grace and finds out that most people, when they hear she is looking to make new friends, are incredibly supportive and want to help Rachel find a new BFF.
Although this memoir was an interesting read, at times it felt more like a psychological study, especially when the author starting quoting statistics and research. The only real criticism I have is that this is a book about Rachel’s search for a ‘new best friend’. She already has a group of friends and a network in Chicago, so a lot of the people she meets are through other friends. The book doesn’t really provide a lot of help for those people moving to a brand new city where they don’t know anyone and have no network. Additionally, Rachel seemed to have a lot of time on her hands because she was always going out to dinner or getting pedicures or having drinks with potential friends. Personally, I just don’t have that kind of time.
The other thing that confused me was that Rachel and her husband were newlyweds and, instead of spending time with her husband, it felt as though Rachel went out all the time trying to make friends. Rachel even mentions that she had to schedule a date with her husband because she was so busy going on friend dates.
But even those bumps did not deter from the heart of Rachel’s journey. To sum up, this was a good book. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for new ways and places to meet people and I am sure that most everyone can find something they relate to in the book.