Friday, August 14, 2009

Book Review: 'The Friends We Keep' by Sarah Zacharias Davis

A Book Like Friendships Can Be a Little Disappointing...
By Lauren Yarger
Knowing personally the intricacies of relationships and how difficult it is to keep friends in these "all-about-me" days, I read with interest Sarah Zacharias Davis' new book "The Friends We Keep: A Woman's Quest for the Soul of Friendship (2009 Waterbrook Press).

After a few chapters, I had the uncomfortable feeling of being let down, sort of like we too often are in friendships, as Davis pontificated in an officious and distant tone about friendship, mostly in an impersonal way, using examples from relationships and situations from movies, television shows and literature. Just as I was beginning to wonder whether she had any personal friendships from which to glean some insights, a personalized sort of diary entry appeared. A number of these dotted the pages as I read on, but it wasn't until about half way through the book that I realized they weren't the author's personal accounts, but excerpts from the works of other women. They're not attributed on the pages where they appear, but are catalogued in the back of the book in a notes section which proves less than helpful when trying to match up the quote with the source.

I plodded on to discover more evidence of how women (including Davis herself, finally) face obstacles. In truth, the book is more like a thesis about this topic, rather than the words of wisdom about how to overcome them for which I'd been hoping, but there are some examples from the bible and Christ's life. If you're game, you can find out some less-than-shocking conclusions like:
• “The truth is, at some time we all feel jealousy.”
• “The concept of a best friend is not so much about favorites … Perhaps it is really about belonging.”
• “One must accept them (relationships) for what they are here and now, within their limits.”

Davis offers a short discussion guide in the back with a lot of questions that might get some conversations started, but which, like the book, don’t offer any answers. Somehow this book and I just didn’t hit it off.

1 comment:

Retta Blaney said...

Well-written review. Thanks for the warning!

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Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light ( and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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