Into the Tangle of Friendship: A Memoir of the Things That Matter Author Beth Kephart looks at an often overlooked topic in her sharply detailed Into the Tangle of Friendship: A Memoir of the Things That Matter. And here, the things that matter most are the author's friendships that have formed, changed, and evolved over the years. Following A Slant of Sun, Kephart's National Book Award winning account of parenting a disabled child, Into the Tangle of Friendship threads the complicated strands of ever changing relationships into an intertwining story.

Kephart writes, "I am who I am because my friendships keep growing because there are always new people slipping into my life, new voices, new stories, new faces I look for, new homes that open up to me." And over the years, her friendships have included an array of characters.

We meet a next door neighbor who sends daily notes of encouragement, observe two young boys learning what it means to be friends, and watch Kephart fall in love with Bill, a man who loves silence and her poetry. Kephart reunites with a lost best friend who stole her first love, learns to love her in-laws from El Salvador, and gives comfort after a neighbor's husband succumbs to cancer.

Kephart honestly presents herself and her cast of characters. With remarkable detail, she relates the ups and downs of those she loves. Each chapter moves to a different friend and a different aspect of friendship, ultimately creating a novelistic story with its believably real characters and their interwoven stories.

Rather than presenting a mere litany of people met and loved over the years, Kephart uses her own examples to look closer at the dynamics of friendship. She explores the strange characters that wander into our lives, the energy that goes into sustaining friendships, and the myriad reasons people stay together or grow apart. Her illuminating stories address questions such as: What is friendship? What makes us cling to one another for comfort and support? Sharing her ever-growing band of companions, Kephart invites us into her world and in the end, adds this reader to her cast of friends.

Stephanie Swilley is an editorial assistant for BookPage.

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