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The Boys of My Youth
224 pages; Back Bay Books

Because you two like to read about characters that remind you of....you two.

Jo Ann Beard's autobiographical essays are so humorous, lyrical and true to the shared experiences of longtime friends that you'll feel like she's inside your own head. The title of the book is deceiving; most of the essays focus on sisters, cousins, mothers. In the final one, "The Boys of My Youth," Jo Ann writes about her best friend, Elizabeth, alternating between flashbacks from their childhood and adulthood, including phone conversations in which they both remember different aspects of their younger years. For example, the time in their late thirties when both get flung "at the same time out of our marriages" and would "spend an hour on the telephone each week...hating our exes in a robust, vociferous style, and lying paralyzed on our living room floors sobbing." It's one thing to look back at your tough times by yourself; it's another thing to have a friend who can cringe along with you—while loving you all the more for those so-called mistakes.
— Michele Filgate