Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review: Treasured Friends By Ann Hibbard

Women all over the world suffer myriads of stereotypes and often these mostly unfounded mental conceptions tend to be more pronounced in the hinterlands where education is deficient. One such seemingly entrenched stereotypical conception is that women are inherently quarrelsome, so much so that, we tend to view feuds between women as completely ordinary and hence downplay the many possible adverse consequences of such bitter disputes because we somewhat unconsciously deem them normative.

However true or otherwise the above may be, I am of the opinion that women generally make better friends than men based on my personal unscientific observation and Ann Hibbard in her book Treasured Friends corroborated my hunch, though her work is by no means a comparative study/analysis of the sustainability of friendship among the two sexes.

In Treasured Friends, the author marshals a wealth of information from her personal stories and the testimonies of numerous other women she has encountered from her many speaking engagements to make a solid case for building intimate friendships.

She begins the book by sampling the views of some of the women on what they considered true friendship noting among other things that, “some use the term friend loosely to mean anything from acquaintances to lifelong soul mates.” As varied as the views were, one of the most recurrent themes in their responses was that true friendship teaches us to love. Ann beautifully encapsulates it thus, “Love is learned in the crucible of human relationships: a place where we bind each other’s wounds, clothe each other with humor, nourish each other with encouragement and quench each other’s thirst for acceptance and companionship.”

Commencing every chapter with a catchy and concise quote, Ann explores key ingredients like trust, love, acceptance, kindness, respect, etc that make for a healthy and intimate friendship yet in a manner that is not all niceties. Like in every human relationship, this book attempts to capture every aspect of true friendship, warts-and-all, thus giving it a realistic appeal. For instance, she advises that “anyone can say what we want to hear. A true friend tells us what we need to hear. Yet every word is prompted by love.” She also warns against parasitic friendships and suggests ways to cut off such ones observing that it is “better to go deep with a few than to have superficial relationships with many” especially “when continuing in a friendship necessitates participation in wrong behavior.”

As beautifully and as well written as this book may be, I strongly suspect that not many men will find it appealing because like me, they may think it too feminine. Even though men will lose nothing for reading it but rather stand to glean some invaluable lessons from an exclusively feminine perspective to better their own relationships, the book, right from the cover page through to the blurb at the back of the book and the numerous examples and stories in between all told in very flowery language seem to be skewed toward only female readers and probably purposely so. This in my opinion does not take anything away from the book but could probably count for one of its strengths in addition to it being strongly founded on biblical principles and its easy readability.

In the end, I think Ann Hibbard does a great job in her treatment of this topic and is timely piece for our Technological Age where relationships are built on social media behind the safety of our computer screens, making us probably more isolated than ever. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I recommend it to all ladies especially those who are keen on building intimate friendships. I am willing to lend my copy to any of my lady friends who are interested to give it a read. Just holler at me!

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