Thursday, November 26, 2009

Barash, Susan Shapiro. Toxic Friends: the Antidote for Women Stuck in Complicated Friendships.

St. Martin’s Press. 2009. c.288p. photogs. bibliog.. ISBN 978-0-312-38639-9. $24.99.

In this noteworthy study drawing upon popular culture and extensive personal interviews with 200 women of various backgrounds and ages as well as with experts in the fields of psychology and counseling, Barash (Professor, Critical Thinking/Gender Studies, Marymount Manhattan College, 1992- ; M.A., Writing, New York University; B.A., Writing, Sarah Lawrence College; bestselling author of Tripping the Prom Queen; author of eleven books including this one;, a nationally-recognized gender expert, explores the ten types of female friends—the Leader, the Doormat, the Sacrificer, the Misery Lover, the User, the Frenemy, the Trophy Friend, the Mirroring Friend, the Sharer, and the Authentic Friend. She helps women recognize and understand them as well as develop means for assessing them and moving forward with problematic female relationships. Barash accomplishes the aforementioned tasks, by dividing her book into three parts based upon a continuum of types of female friends: female friends that are tolerable, intolerable, and worth keeping. According to the author, most women may be able to tolerate Leaders, Doormats, Sacrificers, and Misery Lovers, while they may decide to ditch Users, Frenemies, and Trophy Friends. Women may keep Mirroring Friends, Sharers, and Authentic Friends. Covering each type of woman friend in a separate chapter, while noting how the types may overlap, Barash sets forth the characteristics of each, first hand accounts of the natures of the type of friend, examples drawn from newspapers, books, and movies, current research, the pros and cons of staying in the type of friendship, and more. Including the questionnaire she administered to her interviewees as well as its percentage results by answer, Barash further references her work with a bibliography. Nicely- presented and sufficiently- well documented, even though it lacks footnotes, an index, and some “characters” are composites, this in-depth exploration of female friendships and useful, self-help guide will interest women readers, students, scholars, and others. Accessible, easy- to- read, with a reader’s guide at the end of the book, and scholarly, it belongs in large, public and undergraduate, academic library book collections. Highly recommended. Review copy. Availability:, Barnes &