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Friends and Strangers: Book summary and reviews of Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

Friends and Strangers

by J. Courtney Sullivan

Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan X
Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2020
    416 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

An insightful, hilarious, and compulsively readable novel about a complicated friendship between two women who are at two very different stages in life, from the bestselling author of Maine and Saints for All Occasions (named one of the Washington Post's Ten Best Books of the Year and a New York Times Critics' Pick).

Elisabeth, an accomplished journalist and new mother, is struggling to adjust to life in a small town after nearly twenty years in New York City. Alone in the house with her infant son all day (and awake with him much of the night), she feels uneasy, adrift. She neglects her work, losing untold hours to her Brooklyn moms' Facebook group, her "influencer" sister's Instagram feed, and text messages with the best friend she never sees anymore. Enter Sam, a senior at the local women's college, whom Elisabeth hires to babysit. Sam is struggling to decide between the path she's always planned on and a romantic entanglement that threatens her ambition. She's worried about student loan debt and what the future holds. In short order, they grow close. But when Sam finds an unlikely kindred spirit in Elisabeth's father-in-law, the true differences between the women's lives become starkly revealed and a betrayal has devastating consequences.

A masterful exploration of motherhood, power dynamics, and privilege in its many forms, Friends and Strangers reveals how a single year can shape the course of a life.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Sullivan...writes with empathy for her characters even as she reveals their flaws and shortcomings...[she] illuminates broader issues about money, privilege, and class; marriage, family, and friendship...This perceptive novel about a complex friendship between two women resonates as broadly as it does deeply." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Observations on domestic and social interactions add weight to Sullivan's inquiry into Elisabeth and Sam's interior lives, showing where the cracks seep into their friendship. Readers will be captivated by Sullivan's authentic portrait of modern motherhood." - Publishers Weekly

"Best-selling novelist Sullivan humanizes the roadblocks to successful relationships and the modern tools that help or hinder those bonds—career networking, in vitro fertilization, social media, social justice—in a deceptively quiet tale delivering big truths, complete with an enticing epilog 10 years in the future." - Library Journal

"Sullivan...once again displays her keen observation skills with this insightful examination of two women at very different places in their lives. With well-developed, very real-feeling characters the story moves seamlessly from one perspective to the other. Friends and Strangers is a deeply personal yet profound exploration of motherhood, friendships, and the role of privilege in determining how we shape our lives." - Booklist

"This book pokes at the sometimes troubling relationship between caregivers and mothers, and what starts out as a sweet and straightforward story evolves into something more nuanced and complex." - Vogue

"An insightful examination of everything from social media's magnetic pull to the power dynamics between domestic workers and their employers." - Washington Post

"Courtney Sullivan's Friends and Strangers exposes fraught truths about power dynamics, class, and privilege." - Marie Claire

"Friends and Strangers is a smart and deeply compelling exploration of female friendship and the complicated politics of motherhood and childcare. J. Courtney Sullivan is a shrewd and sympathetic observer of our current cultural moment, with an unerring eye for the way that the unspoken realities of money and class can affect even our most intimate relationships." - Tom Perrotta, bestselling author of The Leftovers

"J. Courtney Sullivan is one of our great literary treasures, and Friends and Strangers is permeated with her brilliance and heart. The novel is a captivating, wise, laugh-out-loud-funny story about the life-changing friendship between Elisabeth, a new mom, and Sam, her college-age babysitter. I loved this novel from the first word to the last." - Ann Napolitano, bestselling author of Dear Edward

"I have long been a fan of J. Courtney Sullivan's insightful and rich novels—Friends and Strangers is her best yet! Sullivan has a stunning ability to capture the tenderness and frailty of human relationships. Her newest is a poignant, wise, big-hearted novel full of complicated women doing their best and striving to do better. I loved it." - Taylor Jenkins Reid, bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six

"J. Courtney Sullivan is a writer of extraordinary gifts, and this is her most affecting book yet, which I just wanted to keep reading and reading straight through to its climactic and emotional last pages, because its world felt completely realized, and completely real. Sullivan is a writer who offers up small human moments and large social ones, all within the frame of a truly good story. I loved it." - Meg Wolitzer, bestselling author of The Female Persuasion

The information about Friends and Strangers shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

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Author Information

J. Courtney Sullivan

J. Courtney Sullivan is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels Commencement, Maine, The Engagements, and Saints For All Occasions. Her work has been translated into 17 languages. Sullivan's writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, New York magazine, Elle, Glamour, Allure, Real Simple, and O: The Oprah Magazine, among many others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and two children.

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