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In the small Kenyan town where she and her husband are spending 12 months as Peace Corps volunteers, Montgomery realizes that, although she can gamely adjust to eating rancid goat stew, living with fist-sized spiders and having her house exorcised of genies, the tasks of caning students until they bleed and teaching them to "sit down and shut up" while their headmaster uses their textbook money to buy himself a new pickup truck are beyond her limits of cultural assimilation. Meanwhile, back in New York City, Liftin tackles her own obstacles, including finding an apartment in Manhattan, surviving the embarrassing loss of her "cybervirginity," enduring the threats of a paranoid neighbor and recovering from the pain of unreciprocated love. Though Liftin's problems can pale in comparison to Montgomery's, the duo's correspondence makes it clear that their relationship has thrived precisely because of their unconditional recognition of the immediacy and importance of each other's travails.
Many women readers will be reminded of their own intense college and postcollege friendships, and may be inspired to try to reconnect with lost friends. This is a smoothly sewn book that appeals on several levels: as engaging travel literature, as a witty exploration of modern women's lives and as a testament to the power and blessing of friendship.
New York City, December 19th
I have obeyed my rules and leapt empty-handed into the void. Much as I try to explain to myself that I am in transition and that everything will turn out fine, I'm hardly the happy camper we remember. I'm living at my dad's now. My eyelid has had a twitch ever since I moved in here. It's a delicate fluttering twitch that others don't seem to see, but to me it feels like there's a bird in my head beating itself against the window of my eye. So right now I hardly recognize myself. I wake up in a strange apartment. I hide away my bed and all signs of me.
I commute out of the city--away from all my friends and the places I know--to work at a sterile office at an ill-defined new job in a big, generic office building on a highway in Westchester. I'm just waiting: waiting to accumulate a foundation of knowledge that will get me the right job; waiting to get my own apartment so I can make noise and be a person; waiting to hail a cab and smile at the person getting out and see that stranger again and again.
Most of all right now, I can't wait to live alone. The finances of buying an apartment are impossible, but I'm willing to make adjustments. No long distance service, for example, no food on weekdays, drugstore makeup, factory-second panty hose, found art. I can't wait to acquire "homeowner's insurance." I want to have my stereo going when I fall asleep. I want all the messages to be for me. I want to bring home strangers and store their body parts in my freezer. I want to polyurethane floors and leave the toilet seat up (Oh wait, I'm a girl.) and throw away all the plastic grocery bags, which wouldn't even accumulate anyway since I don't shop. I want the shower to be a hundred percent available. I want to have parties and not clean up.
Oh, and how much do I miss you? Let me count the ways: I miss you like the plague; I miss you because you understand everything I say and because for all I know when I say I see blue everyone else might see green but I'm pretty sure you see blue; I miss you because when you get back you're going to be really different and dirty; I miss you because you are not coming to my Christmas party; I miss you because you are speaking Kiswahili and I can't and I'm afraid you'll never come home; I miss you as often as I check my voice mail (which is like every minute); I miss you because I don't trust anyone else's sanity (except maybe my brother's); I miss you more than I miss all my stored belongings and with a force that is just a tiny bit less than my desire to find a lifetime companion; I miss you because the park is covered in snow and I haven't been there yet; I miss you because I think you love me unconditionally and I definitely do you. This turned into a love letter, is that so wrong?
Goodbye my dirty friend, goodbye,
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Posted June 23, 2007
I could not put this book down!! It was wonderful. It really inspires one to jump back into writing real letters. Letters filled with hope, sadness and joy as these women did. I felt like I was living their respective lives!! READ THIS!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 27, 2007
I thought that this book was good. It wats a good book for me to read because I like to reading peoples notes and letters to each other, cause I like to find out what is going on in there life. I also like to learn how diffrent there life is compared to mine and how they are similer. I would recomend this book to people that like to read letters aWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 10, 2005
I liked this wonderfully presented book, especilally the fact that the story is told in the form of letters. It reminded me of Dostoyevsky¿s POOR FOLD, Janvier Tisi¿s THE USURPER and Mariama Ba¿s SO LONG A LETTER. It is easy for a reader to relate to the story. Above all, it showed the strength of genuine friendship. Afterall, is it not written somewhere that ¿Heavens send us friendship so that we can find relief from the mysteries that oppress us.¿?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 3, 2000
This book was not as great as I thought it was going to be. I wished it could have been longer or that Kate could have written more about her experiences. But it did show a wonderful contrast between the two lives of these friends!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 3, 2000
Not only did this book illustrate just how special frienships are between women, but it was a 'fun' read! It was fun to read the correspondence between these two warm, funny, and interesting women. I am going to tell all my friends about this book! :) Enjoy!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 20, 1999
I can't say enough about this gem of a book. I trusted the reviews on this one and boy am I glad I did. I actually have a waiting list of co-workers who want to read it because I raved about it so much. So far their reviews match mine. (A great gift for your best girlfriend) Makes you want to get back to writing letters instead of all this email. I was inspired to write an old neighbor of mine. Now we are in touch agian.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 3, 2012
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Posted August 27, 2010
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