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MWF Seeking BFF: My Yearlong Search For A New Best Friend

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When Rachel Bertsche first moves to Chicago, she’s thrilled to finally share a zip code with her boyfriend. But shortly after getting married, she realizes that her new life is missing one thing: friends. Sure, she has plenty of BFFs—in New York and San Francisco and Boston and Washington, D.C. Still, in her adopted hometown, there’s no one to call at the last minute for girl talk over brunch or a reality-TV marathon over a bottle of wine. Taking matters into her own hands, Bertsche develops a plan: Meeting people everywhere from improv class to friend rental websites, she'll go on fifty-two friend-dates, one per week for a year, in hopes of meeting her new Best Friend Forever.

349 pages, Paperback

First published December 20, 2011

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About the author

Rachel Bertsche

6 books225 followers
Rachel Bertsche is the author of The Kids Are in Bed: Finding Time for Yourself in the Chaos of Parenting, MWF Seeking BFF, and Jennifer, Gwyneth & Me. A former editor at O, The Oprah Magazine, her work has appeared in Marie Claire, More, Teen Vogue, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Fitness, Women’s Health, New York, CNN.com, and more. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,795 reviews
Profile Image for Emma Sea.
2,191 reviews1,077 followers
June 21, 2013
The book left me cold. This is one of those 'turn-my-blog-into-a-best-seller' books. The author worked in publishing, and it's pretty clear she thought this project up as a stepping-stone to getting a book deal, rather than something she did out of genuine passion, which just happened to take off.

I thought I'd enjoy this from an ethnographic pov. The author is an NY private school, summer camp, sorority-joining kind of woman, and I am not. Sadly the novelty wore off pretty quickly, and I skimmed a lot of the book.

What really got my goat was that Bertsche makes these gross generalisations that women want this out of friendship, and men want that, completely different, thing. In the same book that she mentions a gay male BFF. QED gay men are not men??

Apparently all women need:

. . . . to gab over drinks, analyzing every conversation, potential purchase, and awkward run-in they had at work. (p. xiv)

Try to analyze your potential purchases with me and I'll snag that bottle of Pinot Gris and decamp to find someone who doesn't obsess over consumer items.

She needs a friend because:

I need to talk my feelings to death, really analyze why I am confused/lonely/ecstatic, [and men] are just not up to it . . . men can only go over the same thing so many times. They don't understand that, as women, we crave having someone validate our feelings. And then do it twice more.

As I don't do GIFs please bring to mind a suitable mental picture of your own choice here.

She's a grown women who, in all seriousness, states, "I want friends like the girls in The Babysitter's Club, that kind of bond." (p. 227)

The most interesting person in the book was the guy she yukked at incredulously, who asked a date, "If Europe were an animal, what animal would it be." That beats the minutiae of BCBG handbags any day.

Some of the aspects of Bertsche's project were fun to read about, in that they represent the social cues and rules of a very particular subculture. A coworker and potential new friend texts her, "If you're not doing anything, come over for Guinness and oysterfest."

Bertsche's reaction:

"I went into a tizzy. I wasn't doing anything! I'd love to come over for Guinness and oysterfest. But could I just say that?"

Instead, she makes up errands she has to do first, that "made me look less eager."

Bertsche does make lots of good points about making friends as an adult: accept invitations, try new activities, engage in conversation if someone else initiates it, etc. But clearly I'm not the kind of woman she'd want to be friends with. I'm completely OK with that :)

March 8, 2017
I strongly suspect the author was looking for a hook for a book idea more than she was desperately seeking a BFF. Strongly.
In her new (old: college town) city of Chicago she had not only her husband, mother, and extended family including cousins she was social with, but four work friends she ate lunch with "every day" and friends through her husband that they went out with every few weeks. Whaaaat? Thats not the lonely life, my friend. You may *want* more friends, but you are busy on a regular basis, not *desperate* for companionship. I hope. So I very much wanted a stronger (read: plausible) spin for this story's publication--and my reading it.

Her most offputting argument for her need of a bff was that although she alarmingly ran every single little thing possible (food choices, hair and style choices, pasttime choices, etc.) by her work or long-distance actual bffs via text/phone/email before taking action, a la a 12-year-old girl--truly, I wanted to bang my head against the wall over this--she needed someone she could go to brunch with. Spoiler alert: she's already going to brunch regularly with combinations of the many beloved friends and family members above, according to her.

The interspersed studies and stats about friendship were jarring but ultimately skimmable.

Lots of negatives. And YET. Something about the various adventures she purposely goes on and her "say yes" attitude and its results was extremely compelling. I really became invested in the search and the story and blew through this. The exploration of what make up a friendship and what affects compatibility was really fun.
Profile Image for Catherine.
66 reviews8 followers
March 5, 2012
I'm sorry. I cannot take one more "I'm so bored with my pampered little life that I'm going to do ________ for a year and journal about it even though I can't write my way out of a paper bag some idiot will publish it and I'll laugh all the way to the bank."

On second thought, please look for my upcoming book entitled "My Year of Trying to Pimp a Book: How I wrote a book in a week, pretended it took a year and chronicled every last minutiae of detail regarding my boring-ass, spoiled suburban life. "
Be sure to buy two.
Profile Image for Rach.
1,458 reviews100 followers
January 23, 2012
It's official. Though I have a strange aversion to having friends with the same name as me, Rachel Bertsche could be my new BFF. Or one of them, that is. If we lived in the same town. And if she knew who I was. And it's not only because I found Rachel's thoughts on friendship to be thoughtful and relevant, but that while reading her words, it felt like we would "click," that if we were sitting and having a conversation, on a girl-date or something, we wouldn't be lost for things to talk about. We seem to have quite a bit in common, not least of all our propensity to read EW cover to cover and our tv-watching obsessions. On the slightly-less-positive side, I also tend to experience frenvy every once in a while, and have a tendency to story interrupt. Trust me, I'm working on that stuff. But putting aside the girl-crush I now have on Rachel, her book really resonated with me. More than just a how-to for finding friends, it's really all about how to be a kind, generous person, how to be a good friend to everyone from current BFFs to new acquaintances, and how to become closer to the people around you, enhancing the happiness level of all around. I will gladly talk this book up to anyone, and have already made my mom buy it for the joint Kindle account she and my sisters and I share, because I feel it was that insightful to me.

I am far from a perfect friend. I like to think I am a good listener, but I am spectacularly bad at staying in touch with people and following up with how their lives are. It's not that I don't care: when I run into friends I haven't seen in a while I am genuinely pleased to see them, and when someone emails me about getting together, I am happy to meet them wherever they'd like. I just have a hard time being the one who reaches out, who suggests the girl-date. Maybe it's because I'm afraid they don't want to see me? I'm not too sure, but that's something I definitely want to improve on, and feel inspired to do after reading Rachel's book. I want to be the kind of friend I would love to have, someone who calls or texts just to say hi, someone who is persistent about making sure we see each other every so often. I want to make sure my friends know that I value them, and if I have to leave my house more often, and watch less tv, and be busier than I might like to do it, I will.

Like Rachel, I had a time in my life where I felt really alone and friendless. I had just graduated from my small liberal arts college in central Pennsylvania and moved back home to the Seattle area, where I had grown up and most of my family still lived. I still had a few old friends that lived in the area, but to be honest, I was never that great at staying in touch with people, and the 4 years I had spent on either another coast or in another country had isolated me from the people I used to spend time with. The people I had become close with during college were good friends, but most of them stayed on the east coast, with one lone friend, my closest, returning to her hometown of Denver.

Add to that the fact that I was painfully shy around strangers, and you have a girl that spent most of her time either holed up at home with her parents, reading and watching tv, or tagging along after her old sisters. I tried to get involved in activities, succeeded in making some friends through church, became closer with girls who had been merely acquaintances when I was in high school, but I never really felt like I belonged, like I was a unique person that other people would be interested in getting to know. I slowly opened up to those around me, but I still felt like I was living on the fringes of groups, instead of really belonging anywhere. Obviously, I had massive self-esteem issues, and I'm sure that's something I'll struggle with all of my life.

Then, suddenly, things changed. When I was about 26, I decided I was done feeling sorry for myself. If I didn't like my life, I was going to change it. I had always been interested in photography, but I finally got myself a nice DSLR. I joined a photo sharing community called Flickr, and started a daily self-portrait project called 365. About 4 months into my project, when I had made quite a few friends through the 365 group, I decided it wasn't enough to have online friends commenting on my photos, I needed to make some friends that I could hang out with in real life. I found a photography meet-up group that was based in Seattle and, after stalking the group's site for a few weeks, finally started going to a few events. Don't get me wrong: it's not like I was suddenly a confident, self-assured person. I was still nervous, and awkward, and barely made it through my first few meet-ups. I went to a small photostroll in May of 2007, leaving right after. The next month, I went to a hang-out-and-chat event, where I met a lot of people, many of whom seemed to be good friends already, but were all open and friendly to newcomers. What helped me along the most, though, was that I had something in common with these people: we all loved to take pictures. At different group events, I would gravitate to the people with whom I had the best connection, getting to know them better and becoming more comfortable around them, until one day, we were just hanging out, no official group meeting necessary. There are some people with whom I have a very specific Friendaversary: we met on a specific day, and were instantly friends, right off the bat. But for most of the people I met through flickr, and the secondary friends I met through the first initial group, the day we actually became friends is kind of unclear, because it evolved so fluidly. By September of 2007, I definitely had new friends, even if they weren't at the call-anytime stage quite yet. I'd been to their houses, laughed uproariously with them, and shared in-jokes. I felt like I belonged. Much has changed in the 5 years since I had my friendship epiphany. I still love taking photos, though I don't take nearly as many as I did back then. I haven't been to a meet-up outing in several years, but I still maintain a few dozen friendships of varying degrees with people I initially met back them. Some of them have become my closest friends, the ones I know will support me no matter what.

This book has not only inspired me to be a better friend, and to generally friendlier to people around me, but has also changed the way I think about friendships in general. I always thought, "I should have one friend who is closer to me than anyone else, who can be The Person whenever I need someone for anything." And I never really had that ONE person, which made me feel incomplete somehow, that maybe I was this strange person that no one would ever want as their Best Friend. But what Rachel comes to realize, and what she made me realize as well, as there is never just one person who can be the be-all-end-all for you. It takes all kinds of friends to make a happy, full life, and you can have multiple "best friends" who fill different roles in your life. I can't tell you now how this is going to change my life, because I'm not a psychic. What I can tell you is this: I plan on treasuring the friends I have, building our friendships with laughter and love.

PS, I might have to track Rachel down. I'm not a stalker, don't worry. Or, at least I'm a harmless one, right? I have people to vouch for me. :)
Profile Image for Kitty.
101 reviews1 follower
June 28, 2012
I think this might have made a good essay but when Rachel decided to go on 52 "friend dates" in an effort to find a new BFF, I don't think she needed to describe each one in detail. I gave up after the first dozen and felt like I probably wasn't missing anything life changing in the rest of the book. For one thing, I couldn't relate to her at all. She has every evening and weekend free to eat sushi and do yoga with potential BFFs. For me, I struggle to find an hour for myself and when I do I actually like hanging out with my hubby, something that didn't seem too important to her. Even though I couldn't identify with her the story may have been interesting if I could have had even a little sympathy for her. She's happily married, has strong lifetime friendships (even though they may be far away), gets along great with a group of coworkers, and is outgoing enough to come up with a new friend date every week. What's she complaining about? Now a quest to find a friend written by a genuinely lonely, introverted person... THAT would be interesting.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,212 reviews3,213 followers
November 15, 2022
4.0 Stars
I'm a sucker for the "do-something-for-a-year memoir" so I tend enjoy these types of stories.I loved the idea of devoting a year to female friendship. With interesting research and humor, this was a very enjoyable to read. I would recommend this to anyone looking to expand their social circle or would simply like to focus more energy on his/her friendships. Given the age of the author and the pop culture references this book primarily speaks to a younger female audience (20-30-somethings).

However, I did have a few minor issues with the story: First, for a story about needing friends, the author spends a lot of time describing her vast network of friends. She even seems to have local friends in Chicago, but insists that these friends don't "count". She is certainly not friendless by most definitions. I also do not completely agree with her views of marriage and spouses. Certainly, I understand that your husband cannot replace friends, but I felt she discounted the companionship your spouse can provide.

While this book isn't perfect, I'm giving it 4 stars, because I've re-listened to the audiobook several times. This book always inspires me to invest time in my established friendship and be open to potential new ones.
5 reviews
December 30, 2011
More cons than pros. Here's my dish:

I really wanted to like this book. I even read the whole thing to try to like this book. But honestly, by the half-way point I began to realize there wasn't going to be a twist, a learning, a climax for our author. The formula - find a girl date, provide a quick headline from friendshipology studies, go on girl date, and proclaim 'girlfriend love' or 'we just didn't click' - was followed unwaveringly throughout. Like 52 times!

I also must say, it got really annoying how on the one hand, our fearless author was filling her weekly calendar with brunches, lunches, drinks, dinners, cookie parties, book clubs, mani-pedis and much girl-talk, whilst proclaiming (or, actually, whining), 'But none of these girls is yet my BFF!!!' Seriously? You just met them! And it sounds like you're really getting to know them.

All that said, I did give two stars vs. one. I did actually finish it and it was a quick read. I also applaud the author for her honesty and the creative idea. Finding new friends as an adult is tricky and she highlights something we don't discuss often -- people are fine saying they need a significant other but loathe to admit they need a friend. Unfortunately, the execution just fizzled for me (by the time of the paid date, our author was really scraping the bottom of the barrel).

Better books await, I'm sure!
Profile Image for Jen .
277 reviews27 followers
January 24, 2012
Four years ago I set out on a quest much like the author's - after graduation most of my friends had either moved for work or returned home and I'd been happy to be friends with my boyfriend and his pals. When we broke up, I set out to make some new connections by various means - the most successful being setting up a social group for solo gig goers to meet up and go to concerts together. Through this I've made several friends who are I hope "lifers" (as Bertsche calls them).

Therefore, when I read the description of this book I was interested and was looking forward to seeing how the author's tale compared to mine. However, what I found was a very mixed bag.

So, first of all, the good. Much I could relate to, the nerves, the excitement, the comparisons to dating, and especially her finding that people don't look at you like you're a loony when you try to befriend them but are actually receptive and welcoming. I liked the optimism and it was a timely reminder that I need to nurture the friendships I've found and make more of an effort to maintain them.

As for the bad, whilst I found the findings from scientific research interesting and some of the tips helpful, as a psychology student I found it frustrating that none of these were referenced in footnotes, which made me question their veracity.

And the ugly? What I didn't like *at all*, were the sweeping generalisations about what women are like, what men are like, the implication that women have to have female rather than male friends (unless of course gay males), and the bizarre claim that your partner cannot be your best friend!

In the end, I'm glad I stuck it out and read it all, as it's definitely made me think about my relationships and made me want to put more effort in, and as such has been valuable. On the other hand, I never found myself warming to Bartsche and on the basis of the stereotypes she espouses (which made me want to hurl the book across the room) I cannot recommend this book or say I enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
2,124 reviews36 followers
February 14, 2012
I picked up this book as I thought it would be interesting and something I would like. A lot of people complain about how hard it is to make friends in my city so I thought it would be fun to see what someone else does to make a new bff. Well...I just couldn't take the author. She was SO desperate and rediculous that I had a hard time reading it. I was read my husband sections like listen to this?!? Apparently he cannot be my best friends because then who do I complain about him to? Makes sense to me...I don't know. I kept wondering why this lady would ever write this book - I think it makes her look so needy. Maybe it is that I don't have a female bff, maybe it is that I don't need anyone to complain about my husband to because I don't have anything to complain about, maybe it is because my husband is by bff and we spend a lot of time together (more so than other people from what I gather) and I never get tired of that or need space, maybe it is because I have never really had a lot of female friends but I just don't get the authors mindset. I do not have any friends who I call up on Sun and say hey what are we doing today? There was just so much that blew me away then made me think are other people really like this??? If so I do find it kind of sad...I don't know. I just didn't get it.
220 reviews1 follower
January 26, 2012
Generally, I'm not a fan of, what I call, the "faux-moir"--fake memoirs where the author embarks on some sort of adventure or scheme to satisfy the book deal they already have. They combine their experiences with research to lighten up what would otherwise just be classified as non-fiction, or a straight-up memoir. So, especially since I'm in a book club with the author, I'm relieved that I did like the book . . . a lot. I wouldn't have picked it up if my book club weren't reading it, but now that I've read it I wish I had read it when I first moved to Chicago. I've since recommended this to many people (mostly transplants to the area).

About the book itself: It is hard not to identify with Rachel. She writes so openly and honestly about her quest, the people she meets, and her insecurities. She is witty and funny, making the book enjoyable to read. Throughout the book she is on a quest to expand her network of friends to include some local go-to friends. Her "friendship expectations" change as she learns more about friendships and herself. She combines the right about of research, and inserts it into her quest at just the right places in the story, to keep it interesting.

Most of all, this subject can be a bit touchy (who wants to be the loser looking for more friends), but Rachel handles it delicately and gracefully. It ends up we all have room for more friends and people are more open to meeting new people than you think. All you have to do is reach out to them, and if Rachel's experience is an indication, put in a some time and effort following up.
Profile Image for Paula.
317 reviews10 followers
December 30, 2011
I picked this up from the library because the topic of adult friendship interests me. I didn't realize it was one of those books that started as a blog, and tracks a year-long "project" (think Julie & Julia or My Year of Living Biblically, etc.), in this case, one woman's search for a best girlfriend after moving to Chicago from New York.

This could still have been a worthwhile book, but it reads like a very long Marie Claire article (the author has, in fact, written extensively for women's magazines), with lots of cutesy prose and quotes from pop psychologists and sociologists. The following passage from the book tells you everything you need to know:

"...And aside from being snarky and hysterical, Eddie is also gay. And I've always wanted a gay best friend. Who needs a Monica to my Rachel when I could have a Will to my Grace?"


All that said, I read the damn thing in practically one sitting (I'm on vacation), and came away feeling encouraged that I'm not the only person in the world who thinks she could brush up on her social skills a little, which I intend to do, but hopefully amongst more interesting people than the ones depicted here.

4 reviews1 follower
January 27, 2012
The book gets repetitive and tedious. By the end the author is mostly congratulating herself on how she is a friending expert now, and illustrates this by dwelling on superficial observations about how much better she is at approaching people than she was at the beginning of the book. She is introspective, but not in a way that feels relatable or relevant to the reader. There is nothing revelatory.

By far what most annoyed me about the book was the way she would introduce her own opinion about the behavior of men and women as fact, starting a sentence with a deliberately vague appeal to authority like "scientists say," "studies show" etc and going on to deliver an absolutist "men are like this, women are like THIS" statement that can only realistically be based on limited personal experience. The actual social studies that she sources and experts she talks to are interesting to read about, but they are, sadly, not the bulk of the book.

She also keeps describing herself as "funny", which makes the poor humor, based mostly on references to lowest common denominator TV shows and trite similes, a lot more evident.
Profile Image for Jaclyn Day.
736 reviews336 followers
January 2, 2013
Friendship is hard to define, yet all of us can point to multiple instances where we either instantly clicked—or didn’t—with someone. The fact that friendship relationships are so similar to romantic ones in their development and their maintenance is what makes the premise of MWF Seeking BFF so compelling. When I went to my sister and mother’s Master’s graduation this weekend, I sat watching all of the groups of graduate friends huddled together taking photos and celebrating and remembered back to my own high school and college graduations. At that moment in time, you think you will be friends with certain people forever. You’ll never lose touch. You’ll text, you’ll email, you’ll meet up! And then the emails are fewer, the texting stops and an occasional note on Facebook is about as far as your interaction extends.

Bertsche, newly living Chicago, laments that her friends live in every city in the country…except the one she’s in. She has work friends and acquaintances, but no one to call at the last minute to go shopping or see a movie with (the ultimate litmus test, according to her and I agree). She embarks on a yearlong quest to go on as many “friend dates” as possible to find a new BFF.

I found that the book’s subject matter spoke to me on a very real personal level, but I had a few problems with it nonetheless. First, Bertsche writes about a lot of studies done on friendships throughout the book. This isn’t so bad, but their placement feels awkward. It starts to feel a bit academic when she pulls one of these numbers: “I didn’t feel sparks for X right away. According to X study, this isn’t so uncommon. X percentage of people don’t blah blah blah.” You get the idea. It’s not the inclusion of the research itself that I have a problem with, but the way she incorporated it into her book. It interrupts the flow of the story and starts to feel formulaic.

The other problem I had with the book is that Bertsche does not always come off super likable. She can be endearing, funny and honest, but other times, I found myself thinking that I probably wouldn’t want to be her BFF either. I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was about certain portions of the book that turned me off, but there was something there.

But, I don’t want to discourage you. This book put a lot of my exact thoughts and feelings about post-college friendships into words. I’ve never been one with a lot of friends—usually a handful of super close ones—but I find myself more isolated than ever. My best friend since the fourth grade lives in Dubai! It doesn’t get more geographically challenged than that. And, while I do have friends in the area, it’s hard to find time around life and work to make the effort to get together. In my experience, the hardest thing about post-college friendships is that they require maintenance and up-keep the same way a romantic relationship does. In college, it’s so easy to maintain your friendships—you see the same people all the time. You live with them, eat with them, go to class with them. Once work and children and significant others and distance comes into play, friendships need a lot of commitment from both parties to work long-term.

Another frustrating point for me is the dynamic of the online friendship. I’ve felt as close to or closer to some online friends than ones I’ve had in real life, and yet we’d never met. On one hand, these friendships are so rewarding, but leave you feeling even more isolated perhaps.

One passage in the book really caught my eye, because it explained what I feel is the ideal test of friendship:

My new BFF will be someone I’m totally myself with. No need to be “on.” No stress during lunch dates, wondering what to say next to keep the conversation flowing. The last-minute phone call is really just a manifestation of comfort, anyway. Does it feel natural to invite her to drinks in an hour? Am I at ease hanging at her house, watching TV in silence? Would I be okay crying to her if something went really wrong?

I feel so lucky to have a few ladies in my life who I absolutely feel like this about and hope to add a few more over the next few years!

On that note, want to be my friend?
Profile Image for Romany Arrowsmith.
371 reviews33 followers
July 24, 2015
You know those people who think they're really good conversationalists, but are actually really terrible, and no one has ever been honest with them about it? They're the people who consistently miss social cues, or make jokes which only elicit awkward silence and forced laughter, or tell pointless, rambling stories only tangentially related to the topic at hand at parties, or obliviously only ever talk about themselves. Listening to this book (audible edition) was like having a five hour conversation with one of those people. Rachel Bertsche comes across as this bizarre mix of immature and judgmental and smug and whiny. I picked this up because I thought it was an interesting concept, but it was so trivially explored, and the writing so facile - there was no exploration at all, actually. No science or data, besides some halfhearted attempts near the beginning. It was essentially just an account of 52 very repetitive "friend-dates", one for every week of a single year. I have no idea how it ends because I only made it to friend-date 15 or so (5 hours into a 10-hour audiobook) before giving up. Did she choose Hannah to be her BFF? Hillary? Margo? Kim?????? I DON'T THINK I COULD FIND A WAY TO CARE LESS.

Some very irritating moments:

“Popular culture has made it okay to yell "I want a man!" from the rooftops, so why are we still embarrassed to say, "I want a best friend"?”
Answer: it's because you're so basic and self-conscious that you've let pop culture dictate your decisions in life up to this point.

"Being the only stranger at dinner with a group of girls who are already close friends doesn't sound appealing at all. I'll have to pretend to laugh at stories I don't get about people I don't know. I'll probably stuff my face just to have something to do while they all gab about their ninth-grade English teacher or some other inside joke that makes me feel like an outsider. It's hard to know how to behave in those situations. You can jump right in, asking "Who?" and "Where was this?" or you can sit back and let them have their laughs. I almost always opt for the latter, sometimes to my detriment. What I think is letting them have their fun, they might takes as she-thinks-she's-too-cool.”
Oh my god. I genuinely pity her inability to navigate social situations in a way that doesn't resemble a teenager.

“People are always doing that in movies, staring out of windows to signify their hardships. I've tried a few times, but it was pretty boring.”
This is a standard example of what she probably considers to be her "wry" sense of humor. It's so incredibly unfunny, I actually cringed from secondhand embarrassment at a couple of these "jokes".

“I’m sarcastic and facetious. It’s hard to find those people on first encounter. I can be nice, but I don’t want nice friends. I want funny, gregarious, sarcastic, and smart friends.”

I'm so angry I wasted my time on this book.
Profile Image for Julie Ehlers.
1,111 reviews1,414 followers
January 2, 2015
I got to page 137 in this book before I realized that the rest of it was just going to be more of the same: mildly entertaining anecdotes of various "friend-dates," each followed by a bit of armchair psychology and a passage about what "studies have shown." Oddly enough, most of the actual studies Bertsche cites are not specified or noted at the end of the book, so she was likely recycling material from other people's works (like Cacioppo's Loneliness, which she refers to often).

In all, this was not particularly funny, not particularly smart, not particularly useful. I decided to cut my losses and get out early.
913 reviews409 followers
February 21, 2013
Although I think this book would have worked better condensed into a long article, with only the most interesting anecdotes and insights and no filler, I still found it undemanding, mostly enjoyable, and occasionally provocative -- kind of like a good friend.

Rachel Bertsche, a newcomer to Chicago, felt isolated and friendless. Too old to meet people at college, too young to meet them at Mommy & Me or preschool gatherings, there was simply no natural way for her to make friends in her new city. As a relative newcomer to my current place I can certainly relate, although admittedly Rachel seems to have a lot more time than I have (no kids) which may have made her more motivated to actively seek friendships. Rachel did something quite original and brave in my opinion. The way an anxious single might determinedly pursue a variety of avenues for meeting random guys in search of "The One," Rachel decided to go through all sorts of contortions -- friends of friends, websites, all kinds of networking ideas -- to meet 52 different new women over the course of a year in the hope that at least one might fill the role of "BFF."

I admired Rachel's courage, which was part of what kept me reading. As Rachel points out, people understand if you're direct about being single and wanting to meet the love of your life, but they're far less forgiving if you openly state that you're looking to make friends. What kind of a loser doesn't already have friends? What kind of a loser is so desperate that she would put herself out there like that? To her surprise, Rachel finds that the vast majority of women she meets are not losers, and tend to be just as open as she is to the possibility of making a new friend even if the chemistry with Rachel herself doesn't quite work. Her quest proves successful and enlightening as she comes away with some solid new friendships, even if she also realizes that becoming a BFF is a longer and more complex process. Throughout, Rachel shares some interesting ideas about friendship that she picks up both from her reading and from her own experience.

As I said, the book was a little too long for me and is really a 3-star read; I couldn't see giving it more stars. I wish I had found it on audio, because I think I would have appreciated it more as a diversion during monotonous tasks than as a read I actually had to sit down with. But it was certainly pleasant, and made me think a little more about my own social relationships.
Profile Image for Nina.
122 reviews14 followers
January 4, 2012
I loved this memoir about trying to make friends in a new city. Not easy to do without college dorms or childhood memories keeping relationships connected. I thought 52 "friend dates" might be too many to read about, but I was wrong. I sailed through this book in a few days and really enjoyed the mix of research about friendships and connections along with the author's real-life experience of setting out to meet new people.

Highly recommend.

My FULL rave is on my blog: http://ninabadzin.com/2012/01/03/sear...
11 reviews
April 1, 2012
Half diary, half junior college research paper, this book was almost embarrassing to read. Full disclosure -- I did not finish this book because the whining just became too irritating. The author is young so I will attribute her overarching desire to find a new best friend to immaturity and lack of personal history. Friends are lovely but friendships very rarely last forever. The evolution of our own lives cause people to change and relationships to weaken. Instead we should cherish our relationships that we have -- especially with our significant other and family -- and allow new ones to arise spontaneously. Perhaps, age will teach Rachel that happiness is the appreciation of all that we have in our lives and not the achievement of all that we want.
Profile Image for Charlene Carr.
Author 17 books208 followers
June 26, 2017
An interesting read with a lot to like and a lot I could have done without too. The account of the 52 friend dates got tiring, but what I really found interesting was the information on friendship – its benefits, how to be a better friend, how to put yourself out there, etc. The author clearly did a lot of research. Not a book for everyone, but if you’re actively looking to expand your friend group but haven’t been seeing progress, this book may give you just the kick in the butt you need! If you give it a read, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For my full thoughts, check out my Video Book Review of MWF seeking BFF
Profile Image for Kylee Michelle.
42 reviews12 followers
June 11, 2023
DNFed. This one was recommended by someone whom I very much I admire and respect. I read the first few chapters and it was a really fun concept, and I think I would have thoroughly enjoyed it had it not been for the language and inappropriate comments. It was too distracting for me. :/
Profile Image for Patrick.
267 reviews93 followers
May 1, 2015
Full disclosure - I bought this book for my wife a few years back when she was commenting on how hard it is to make good friends as an adult. I thought it'd be helpful for her to see that she wasn't the only one having this issue - that it was, in fact, pretty common. But she wasn't that interested in reading it, so it sat on my Kindle for years, unread. There's something unsettling about an unread book purchase, something about not following through, taunting you every time you scroll through your to-read options. So I finally just read it.

But look, it wasn't really intended for me. Not really. So I'm trying not to be too hard on Bertsche here, as I'm not the target audience. I'm not expected to smile and nod in recognition at the constant references to 'Glee' or 'Us Weekly.' I'm not supposed to get the compulsion for gossip and shopping buddies. It wasn't for me to get.

Having said that, I didn't like the book. It was a slog for me to get through. Bertsche's tone was agreeable and friendly, and the subject matter was interesting from a macro view. She sprinkles in quite a bit of interesting academic sociological information from more educational tomes, which was interesting and welcome each time she did it. But at the end of the day, it was a mess of boring recaps of sushi dinners with an amalgam of women broadly defined by their quirks or careers (the blogger, the one who does yoga, the former child actress, the one who was on Road Rules, etc.). Bertsche helpfully includes an index of her "girl-dates", but after the first 5-10, I just couldn't be bothered to care anymore.

There are some very good observations on the nature of friendship, and the ways in which it changes and evolves as we get older. I also appreciate Bertsche's bringing attention to the issue, and using herself as an example of a friendly, interesting person rendered, for all intents and purposes, friendless by circumstance. Too often, especially in the age of social media, we define our self-worth by friends and activities, when the truth is your circle tightens up when you get older. You simply don't get out as often. And while you're bombarded by images of friends and family living it up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it's helpful to take a step back and realize that all of that is an idealized version of the world we each inhabit, not reality. So kudos for that, but I think there was a more interesting way to get there. Bertsche relies too heavily on the gimmick of 52 friend dates, and she seemingly tires of it herself, as she appears to just be going through the motions of the dates for the back half of the book. There is no way this book needed to be nearly 350 pages. It's absurd. There was about 150-200 pages of actual interesting content, spread throughout 300+ pages in service of a gimmick.

It also won't age well. I purchased it only a few years ago, and already many of the cultural references (pop and otherwise) felt dated. But maybe that's okay, long-term. It will stand as a sociological relic of the era.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't comment on Bertsche's husband. Bertsche consistently maintains what a trouper he is, and how he's supportive of her, but he seemed like a jerk to me. It struck me that many of his jerk-like tendencies got glossed over by Bertsche's "men, amirite?" schtick, but I found him cold and unsympathetic to her situation. Given her showing one thing and saying another, I wonder if she even realizes how he came off. I legit googled her to see if they were divorced yet. Maybe he's actually a great guy, but if so, Bertsche should re-evaluate how she portrayed him.

In any event, it's not terrible. Too long by half, but generally affable and occasionally interesting.
Profile Image for Olga.
166 reviews30 followers
September 8, 2012
The curse of the introvert is that while I enjoy spending time with people I know getting there (aka making friends) is a challenge. I frequently wonder how some people go from barely acquaintances to friends in no time and apparently with no awkwardness and lately I've been thinking about the general subject of friendship more than usual. So when a friend gushed about this book I jumped at the chance to read it - here's someone asking the same questions and apparently she has answers too!
Rachel's memoir is not just a collection of amusing anecdotes about her 52 new girl-dates in search of friends. She's also done some research on the subject of friendship and the narrative is liberally sprinkled with references to books and articles on the subject as well as summaries of her interviews with experts. This did give the book more of a dry air of an almost scientific article than I would have preferred but at least we know without a doubt that the author has thoroughly done her homework! She is also letting us into her life outside the friend-search, giving us a glimpse of how hew new husband was dealing with the whole thing (from what I can tell Rachel better hang on to her Matt, he’s a keeper), her existing friends‘ and family‘s support and her own analysis of herself and her quest throughout the year. It’s interesting to see the transformation of her wish list for the perfect friend from tentative to defined and grounded in the present and her transformation from a young woman seeking companionship to a young woman who can offer much not only to a potential friend but also to herself.
I really enjoyed reading about Rachel’s insights into what it takes to build a friendship, her take on our culture where admitting that you are looking for friends is tantamount to admitting that you are a weirdo looser, and her thoughts about one’s spouse being one’s best friend (or not). I can relate to her nervousness starting out on this adventure and applaud her for not leaving a stone unturned, and for turning into a yes-woman of friend-making in the name of having a social life, which is obviously very important to her.
While I wouldn’t want to repeat Rachel’s experiment (‘exhausting’ doesn’t even begin to cover my impression of the commitment she made over the course of that year) many of the lessons she learned I would like to apply to my own life.

Read more of my reviews at Bibliophile's Corner
Profile Image for Jessica Knauss.
Author 36 books66 followers
July 25, 2016
Rachel Bertsche moved to Chicago by choice, but it was not by choice that she left her lifelong friends in New York behind. She finds that her husband cannot provide her the kind of support she knows she could get from good local female friends. She finds herself in the fix that so many of us do today: we know we want more friends, but without the kind of structure provided by school or summer camp, we're puzzled as to how to go about it. Unlike most of us, she takes a forward-thinking approach and resolves to go on one "friend date" a week for a whole year, in the hope of getting to the end of the year with at least one Best Friend. The result is a funny and poignant memoir.

Along the way, Rachel discovers the latest research and theories on both how social contacts are made and their effects on our health, and she spreads the information out masterfully. Most people she's talked to assume that friendships "just happen," but Rachel does the digging and finds out better details about what really makes them happen. Then she does her best to make those things work for her. Her biggest first assumption is that people will react badly to her advances, thinking she's a freak. It's a huge relief to find that the women she approaches are in the same boat and open to new friendship.

By the end of the book, she's "tried everything," so if you've been wondering how to make more friends, read MWF Seeking BFF to give every idea you're considered a vicarious test run. Rachel's writing gives you a very clear picture of who she is and what she expects and gives in a friendship, so through her experiences, it's easy to weed out the best suggestions for you.

This book shows that the world is full of people who'd like to escape the isolation of today's techno-world and, more simply, to meet new people, including you! It's an active, optimistic antidote to the depression and loneliness forecast by sociologists and social commentators. Thanks so much, Rachel, for letting us know we aren't nearly as alone as we thought!

Pick this book up if making new friends is one of your resolutions.
Profile Image for ILoveBooks.
977 reviews10 followers
January 15, 2012

What do you do when you are friendless in an unfamiliar big city? You put out an ad for friends, of course! The author moved to the Windy City after marrying her college sweetheart, from that statement alone everything sounds hunky-dory...however, she had to leave behind her two best friends.

Rachel's story is hysterical. This book will easily make the reader laugh, experience several awkward moments with Rachel, and hold his/her breath to see if the friendship will work out. The way the author writes will captivate the reader. Rachel's style of writing is fluid, down-to-earth, and infused with humor. Rachel literally holds nothing back, she is very candid with the reader.

The potential candidates for Rachel's BFF are fun to get to meet. They each have different qualities and mannerisms that will make them stick out to the reader. The reader will also be able to follow Rachel's reasoning and logic for why a friendship didn't work out or may work out. It's funny to think of speed-dating for friendship, but Rachel will help the reader see the merit in it. One statement of Rachel's that sticks out as a pearl of wisdom is when she states that society has made it acceptable to be a woman seeking a man and vice versa, but not a woman seeking friendship from other women. She also goes into detail about how female friendships are taking a hit in recent years, this information should be interesting to readers-particularly readers of the female persuasion.

Overall, this book was hilarious and absorbing, highly recommended to adult/young adult readers.
Profile Image for Jacquie.
314 reviews1 follower
July 15, 2019
I enjoyed the story as it is often hard for me to talk to strangers too. Rachel's experience with her 52 dates with potential BFF's was both humorous and an eye opener. I see where I don't invite someone to talk to me too. this was good for me to learn!

In chapter 12, she states "Plus, women push themselves harder under a partner's watchful eye." referring to working out. I will say that may be the case for her, but for me, if someone is telling me what to do or competing, i tend to walk away. I work way harder on my own, so the quote isn't really every woman.

In chapter 13, she reflects that maybe her BFF can only be those that knew her from childhood. I would say, again, this may be for her case, but for me, i've made so many good friends in my adult life, and have none of my childhood friends - so i don't relate to this. Maybe because she is so young, and close to that age, that it is true for her still or maybe we are all unique :-).

This was a very quick read and fun to see what each experience led to. I give her (and her husband) huge props for living this for a year!
36 reviews8 followers
May 4, 2012
I'm not quite certain how I feel about this book, hence, the 3-star review (which I then changed to 2, then back to 3). I'll try to map out my thoughts as clearly as possible, but I'm not even entirely sure where this review is going to go. Here goes nothing!

1.) I liked the premise immediately. As someone who moved after college to a new city for grad school, made plenty of friends only to have them pick up and leave following the completion of their degrees, I can relate. Why? Because I'm one of the few that stayed behind. I also think in a person's 20s, a move is almost inevitable, so if you make friends with a girl before she's made the move, be prepared to say goodbye to her later on down the line. Not goodbye forever - but you'll be saying hello via Skype from different locations.

2.) I do think it's VERY tough to match the intimacy of friendships "from home" (in the book, I believe this was Sara and Callie). So I could also relate to some of the disappointment that Rachel feels in terms of comparing friendships. If you're looking for someone who relates to you the same way that your friends from home do, I think it takes a VERY long time to get to that level. I don't think it happens in a year, but that's just my experience.

I was confused, however, at the sheer number of people that the author seemed to know upon returning to Chicago. In this respect, I think she had a huge leg up on people that move into a new city not knowing ANYONE. The first series of dates were people she had either known in college or got set up with via friends from college. I don't get why she wouldn't focus her energy on people with whom she shares connections rather than taking on 52 dates in year. But this brings me to my next point....

3.) I got the feeling through most of the book that, well, no one really likes the author (except Sara, Callie, and her Mom). I can't tell if this is because maybe on some of her friend dates she came off WAY too desperate? Or if because the amount of self-absorption that possesses her isn't appealing? My hypothesis is that she comes off as judgmental. Case in point: the woman who was 40ish that had children. Well, certainly SHE'S not qualified to be anyone's friend! The author wrote the lady off quite quickly. Interestingly, the author was jumping at the chance to hang out with 22-year olds. I don't know about anyone else, but at 22, I was drunk....pretty much all the time. Not sure how great of a BFF I was, but I know I was FUN!

4.) And P.S. Rachel's husband sounds like he sucks. But at the same time, I don't understand going out with chicks 6 nights a week and leaving your husband at home. Don't get me wrong, I am ALL FOR girl time! But basically never seeing your husband during your first year of marriage because you'd rather go out and make friends is crazy to me. More alarming? Her husband said he didn't mind her leaving him behind because then he "doesn't have to listen to her complain". Wow. This is a healthy union (and yes, I realize I'm being just as judgmental as Miss Rachel). I also was flabbergasted at some of the squabbles these two had. The sea urchin incident was ridiculous. If I were in a foreign country and had unidentified black spikes in my dang foot, my husband would CARRY me to the nearest hospital - not tell me that it must be fibers from my sandals that are embedded in my foot (What?!?!?). And the author justifying his behavior by saying that "oh yeah, all couples fight on their honeymoon"....huh??? I don't know who you've talked to that's come back from a honeymoon, but all couples certainly do NOT fight on their honeymoons. Your husband doesn't like you, I'm sorry.

That about sums it up for me. The friend dates to me were unremarkable. Some of the instances definitely made me laugh out loud. I liked all the psycho-babble, too. That's right up my alley, so I enjoyed the analyses of why some people click and others don't. Overall, I probably wouldn't recommend this book unless you're just flat out of things to read and if someone has it for you to borrow. But I will reiterate that I did find the premise interesting and some parts of the book truly funny.
Profile Image for Sheri.
1,233 reviews
June 15, 2013
I picked this up as a light and cute read mostly because I just finished The Forgotten by Elie Weisel (heavy) and because my kids are home from school this first week of summer and I knew I wouldn't be able to concentrate.

Unfortunately, this was not light and cute and entertaining. It was overblown, unbelievable and boring as fuck. I had to crawl through what should have been (300 pages of blather) a 24-48 hour read over an almost 4 day period. At one point I actually looked at my husband and said if I don't finish this book tomorrow I'm gonna scream. I really, really need to be done reading this drivel. So much for light and cute.

Anyway, the premise is interesting enough and one to which I can relate. I live in Madison WI and moved here for grad school. I met a few friends in grad school (but mostly was severely overworked by my advisor), but my friends all moved away after graduating. I did not graduate (dropped out after finishing my MS and course work and prelim but not yet having written the dissertation) and stayed here in town to work from home with my husband and raise our two kids. I have met a few people through the kids but I am for the most part 5-10 years younger than all the parents of my eldest son's peers. I am neither a stay at home or a working mom (and so don't really fit with the gripes of either) and decided myself that I needed friends a few years back. I tried to be proactive about finding them and as a result now have a couple of girls that I do lunch with on a monthly basis (some are better than others). I know about the "stalking potential girl dates" and the awkward first lunches and those that you never call again because it was really just too painful. I know about being the one who always asks the other to lunch and wondering if it is because she is just too busy or not interested. I get all that and so could relate in part to Bertsche's book.

However, ultimately her book is about a woman with a ridiculous social life. She spends WAY too much time hunting for time out with "the girls". I couldn't believe that she was actually a real person...I mean 5-6 nights a week eating dinner out or going to a class or some other activity? And she doesn't mind that then she only sees her husband once a week? And, oh yeah, she is also supposed to spend all this time with her mom and her brother? Bertsche is not a lonely girl (even from the start) she is a social butterfly who can't spend ten minutes alone. When does she do all this reading that she supposedly does (although I wouldn't necessarily call 2 books a month a bibliophile)?

At the beginning she notes that they have plenty of friends and when she and Matt throw a party they pack the house. But, she wants people who are always thinking about her and to whom she can always cry. Really? She cites lots of research about how modern Americans put too much pressure on their marriages (and I did find the light sprinkling of sociological research throughout to be a poor bone to "scientific analysis"), but she never brings up the point that if one never sees their spouse they can hardly improve their marriage. Certainly, spouses each need their own space and their own interests, but she doesn't really ever do anything with hers (isn't he so cute and supportive and patient?? blech), I can't imagine that is the best thing for a relationship.

She is also ridiculously privileged. She grew up in NY, went to fancy high schools and summer camps, and currently gets one pedicure a week (roughly from her comments). She has no concern with budgetary issues (clearly) and apparently no recognition of the fact that her presentation of herself as "everyday American gal" might be quite different from the average middle class chicka.

Overall, I just hated it. I couldn't relate (despite being upper middle class, well educated, bibliophilic, able to laugh at myself, and having embarked on my own search for friends in the last few years) AT ALL and just barely was able to finish it.
Profile Image for Ciara.
Author 3 books359 followers
May 12, 2012
yet another stunt memoir, this time following the trials & tribulations of a newlywed devoting herself to making a new best friend in a year or less. rachel bertsche moved to chicago to be with her new husband, leaving her closest friends behind in new york city. even though her mother & eventually her brother & his wife follow her to chicago, rachel still misses having lady friends with whom to gossip about celebrities & get pedicures. she decides to go on one friend date per week in an effort to meet other women & hopefully find a few with whom she connects. but meeting 52 new people in one year is no simple trick. after exhausting friends-of-friends & minor acquaintances, she starts asking the waitress out to brunch, asking the clerk at her favorite second-hand shop for cocktails, taking cooking classes & schmoozing with the other women there, writing up a personal ad seeking friends, speed-friend-dating, & even paying a friend matchmaker to set her up with other women.

one of the most interesting things about this book to me was that i was the 37th hold when i requested it from my local library. i live in a small-ish town & have never been more than maybe the 12th hold before. i can only assume that there are a lot of somewhat lonesome adult women in my town who wonder why it's so difficult to make friends once you're out of school, & hence out of that artificial enforced social environment. i know i have wondered. even though i feel like i meet new people pretty regularly--the colleagues or partners of colleagues of my boyfriend's, women from book club, women who follow my writing, etc--it's difficult to really forge the kind of connection that seemed to come so easily when i was, like, fifteen. maybe it's just because we are busier now, paying bills, managing households, having or seeking partners. maybe it's because, as adults, our lives can sprawl in so many different directions--traveling, children, career advancement...there are so many ways for paths to diverge & barriers to crop up. maybe it's just that as a person gets older, she begins to know herself better & feel more comfortable with who she is, & so doesn't feel quite such a need to have her identity reflected back in a tight friend circle.

rachel reflects a lot of these topics in between reporting on her friend dates, some of which go perfectly, & others of which are dreadful. i sometimes wondered how some of the failed dates might feel, reading about themselves later in rachel's book. i also wondered how some of the women might feel about some of the more awkward bits in the book, like the part where rachel gets friendly with a woman she met in a cooking class, who just so happens to be black. (rachel is white.) rachel is all excited because she feels she doesn't have enough black friends. i must say, if i ever hinted anything like that to any of my black friends, i would not expect them to want to be friends with me for much longer.

there were a few little missteps like that in the book, & numerous remarks about rachel's theory of "how women are". she makes a lot of sweeping generalizations about what women care about, how they interact with each other, etc, that seemed to be cut & pasted directly from an issue of "cosmo". i really hate shit like that. i'm a woman but i don't make snap judgments about other women's haircuts or care about intimidating other women with my good looks. sometimes i wonder if authors who write stuff like this really believe it, or if they are just pandering to what they think most of their audience believes. either way: yuck.

but it's a cute little book & if it motivates the reader to maybe step outside her comfort zone a little more often & try to meet new people or try new activities, i can't see how that's in any way a bad thing.
Profile Image for Kara.
674 reviews316 followers
July 10, 2012
Four and a half stars.

I read this with a friend who said she found herself "over-identifying" and having to put it down to walk away because the book IS her life. I felt like that too. Maybe a lot of people feel like this.

I moved from California to Michigan for work. The two really good friends I made both moved away after the first year and a half. Now I feel like all of my friends are my boyfriend's friends who have adopted me, and I've been on the lookout for a new best friend. Even before I picked up this book, we would make jokes whenever we met someone new: "New BFF?"

Rachel Bertsche lived this in Chicago. She moved there for her husband and had friends but no close friends--no one to call up for last minute plans or to just say hi. She decided to actively try to change that and went on a yearlong mission to get a best friend. She asked her friends who new people in Chicago to make introductions; she tried new classes and groups; she even went online. Interspersed with the story of her search are really interesting psychological facts about friendship, loneliness, and happiness. Bertsche did her research. She talks about what, scientifically, makes a close friend. She spewed statistics from surveys of how connected Americans feel to others. This resulting book was both entertaining and informative.

The biggest lesson I learned from this is that you've got to go out and TRY. If you want new friends, you need to take the initiative. You need to put yourself out there and stop being shy. Making friends is work, but it's work that will definitely pay off. Bertsche gave me a bunch of ideas of what to do to find my new BFF in Michigan, and I feel hopeful just thinking about trying them.
Profile Image for Felicity.
278 reviews31 followers
December 26, 2011
I was pleasantly surprised. Rachel Bertsche had done her research (as in read the appropriate psychology textbooks and all that). More on that later.

Bertsche has been living in Chicago for two years with her boyfriend, now husband, when she decides that as friends aren't coming to her...she's going to go out and find some friends. Bertsche wants close friendship...a BFF as the title suggests, someone she can call and ask to brunch at the last minute on Sunday morning just to hang out (her definition). To this end, she decides to go on 52 friend-dates in a year...one a week, with a view to finding some new friends, one or two of whom she hopes will eventually become BFFs. As the year goes on, this process becomes decidedly complicated because as she meets people she likes, she's working to maintain existing friendships as well as form new ones.

The most interesting part of the book is how Bertsche goes about her search. Firstly, she tries friend set-ups (friends of friends etc.), then writing a blog (which attracts a bunch of people out of the woodwork), classes and activities, and finally just reaching out to people she meets while shopping or dining out. As Bertsche discusses, making friends is actually incredibly hard work...people tend to assume that there's something wrong with you if you're without friends. Bertsche details the highs and lows of her search...which is, generally speaking, successful...but not without some very awkward and embarrassing moments along the way.
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