Kayleen Schaefer explores twenty-first century female friendships with gusto in Text Me When You Get Home. Like a great coffee date with your bestie, it’s the perfect blend of research, analysis, and real-life stories. By the end I was eyeing up that woman in the next lane and thinking, “I wonder what we have in common besides swimming?”
Text Me When You Get Home is a tribute and celebration of being a woman today, from work friendships to the fifth grade BFF that we still call every day.
Schaefer talks about why female friendships are different now than they were fifty years ago. It used to be that when women married and had kids, they moved away from their female friends. They would befriend the mothers of their kids friends, rather than continuing to see the singleton friend from their career days. Now, with the blurring of lines between home, parenting, marriage, and career, women expect to prioritize female friends higher than before.
In pop culture, the female friendship has evolved also. Schaefer discusses TV shows and movies as illustrations of how women connect. From Grey’s Anatomy and Legally Blonde, to Lena Dunham’s Girls, women are making sure friendship is rendered accurately in the media. Schaefer discusses the past predominance of “cat fights” in shows like Dynasty, and the efforts actresses and writers make today to offer a more positive portrayal.
In an age where woman have many more ways to connect, Schaefer points out how our digital ways affect friendships. She tells a story of a woman wishing for a particular group of friends. Instead of bemoaning the lack of the group, she started one herself using Meetup. Schaefer tells of her own efforts to stay connected to a friend in Australia.
More than anything, I found myself remembering two close friends I don’t see anymore. We “broke up” over ten years ago and haven’t seen each other since. We were in our thirties and forties at the time, so this wasn’t teen angst. Both experiences were as traumatic for me as breaking up with a boyfriend.
Schaefer has insight on the progression from the movie Heathers to today’s Mean Girls, and whether that’s an accurate portrayal. But I wish Schaefer would have acknowledged that adult women don’t always stay friends, and the end of that friendship isn’t always pretty. She paints a summarily rosy perspective, which I think is only one side of the story.
This was a terrific, easy-to-read nonfiction book. If you’re a woman struggling to connect to nonfiction, give it a try. Schaefer makes Text Me When You Get Home accessible, interesting, and eminently relatable. Many times I found myself thinking, “Yes! I’ve felt that way.” It made me regret the friendships I haven’t nurtured, and appreciating the friends who forgive my distractions.
If you’ve got a good friend who likes to read, this is a great one to read together. You’ll find plenty of ideas to discuss, and probably end up with a deeper appreciation of your friendship along the way.
Thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Group Dutton, and the author for the opportunity to read the digital ARC in exchange for this honest review.