When Rachel Bertsche first moves to Chicago, she’s thrilled to finally share a zip code, let alone an apartment, with her boyfriend. But shortly after getting married, Bertsche 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: She’ll go on fifty-two friend-dates, one per week for a year, in hopes of meeting her new Best Friend Forever.
In her thought-provoking, uproarious memoir, Bertsche blends the story of her girl-dates (whom she meets everywhere from improv class to friend rental websites) with the latest social research to examine how difficult—and hilariously awkward—it is to make new friends as an adult. In a time when women will happily announce they need a man but are embarrassed to admit they need a BFF, Bertsche uncovers the reality that no matter how great your love life is, you’ve gotta have friends.
In this sweet memoir, New Yorker Bertsche tells of moving to Chicago in 2007 to be with her future husband and leaving behind her closest childhood friends. In her new city, the 20-something author had just one friend, and most significantly, no gal pal to share in the milestone of her first wedding dress fitting. So begins her quest to go on 52 dates in the coming year to try to create for herself in Chicago what she had: to find a Kate to my Allie. Blair to my Serena. The philosophy she learns along the way is twofold. First, say yes to everything. In socially shy Bertsche s case, this means taking a huge step outside the familiar and calling on buddies to set her up, finagling invites to book clubs, renting friends (literally), and chatting up random people. The second part is that to grow the friendships, she can t rely on anyone else to reach out to her and has to do all of the follow-up, at least initially. What she gets, in addition to a social network, is a shifting understanding of what she needs from friendships and a recognition of some of her flaws. This allows her to be a better friend and more appreciative of time alone and with her spouse. Bertsche s pursuit is grounded in what most everyone is looking for more fulfilling relationships and a sense of belonging and she bravely provides some of the tools, including openness, persistence, and self-awareness, needed to attain these rewards.