I've followed this writer since I first discovered her remarkable memoir, "A Reluctant Life" and I've been well-rewarded. "Best Friends," too, is a kind of memoir, this one in the form of the actual 27-year correspondence (1961-1988) between two very individual women. Their letters are marvelous-- evocative, resonant; time travel back to not only Those Days but to "the way we were " --both bold and fragile, wise and perplexed, engaged in the moment, and eternally hopeful.
At one point in 1966, one of them writes presciently, "I sensed we were of our time...We would all move on in history eventually, some only as visitors but others will become heralds of our era." Prescient because their youthful friends included such soon-to-be heralds as Sam Shepard, Dustin Hoffman, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Shel Silverstein and Spaulding Gray. But don't construe that to mean this book is a name-drop. What it is is an intimate, thoughtful, occasionally exuberant, occasionally wrenching story about friendship.
__Linda Stewart Reviewer and Writer
A book about love and laughter and complicated lives
Rarely, if ever, does even the most avid reader come upon a book that touches her or his own life. But for me, this is such a book.
In 1963, when best friends Beth Bryant and Yvette Nachmias moved into a Greenwich Village apartment, I too moved to Manhattan. In 1969, when Beth was traveling and writing and Yvette was preparing to leave New York permanently, I bought the latter’s brass bed, on which I still sleep peacefully. By 1969, I had come to know both women a bit, because I worked as a proofreader for Beth’s publisher. But I had no idea how deep and intense their friendship was, how emotionally and intellectually connected they were, or how they stayed in one another’ lives through letters over many years. This book is a biography, an autobiography, and a tough, tender portrait of a generation. In short, it is a book to stay up all night reading. You can sleep some other time!
__Phyllis Guest, Dallas, Texas
Best Friends is a story of an unusual relationship between two gifted women who share their lives in a correspondence that spans three decades. It is autobiographical and yet it is also the memoir of a brilliant woman with remarkable vitality, whose life is continually interrupted and altered by bouts of acute schizophrenia. Overarching moments of shared experiences and gossip, Best Friends reveals a period of time, an almost distant history, filled with personal and social transformations that affected our lives. I was deeply moved by the story of Beth Bryant and writer, Yvette Nachmias-Baeu, and thought that Beth’s yearning to become a great writer were realized in the pages of Best Friends.
__Bianca Gray, PhD Providence, RI
Yvette Nachmias-Baeu’s nonfiction memoir, Best Friends, is a moving celebration of an enduring friendship. The letters Yvette shares are powerful and held me under their sway as I read. I was frequently awed by how much Beth and Yvette did with their lives, especially at a time when most young girls lived at home until they were married. Beth’s descriptions of Ireland and the countries she visits are marvelous, and Yvette’s accounts of the West and East Coast cultures are inspiring. The Notes Yvette concludes each chapter with helped me get a full picture of the world they lived in. Reading this book has been an unforgettable experience and I’d urge anyone interested in the 1960s and 1970s to do so. Best Friends is most highly recommended.
__Jack Magnus for ReadersFavorite.com
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book of letters.what a gift of reflection, transformation and friendship! The candor and directness in the letters between Yvette and Beth are refreshing. I stayed with them and enjoyed the ride as they matured across the decades. This book is candid, poignant and heartbreaking all at once. I highly recommend this book.
__Romina Carrillo Gutierrez, New York, N
I did not want this book to ever end! It chronicles the adventures of two wonderfully articulate and funny young women, told in a series of letters written to each other over three decades starting with the tumultuous sixties. A falling out, a mental breakdown, many loves and occupations that span New York to San Francisco to London, Ireland, Israel, Europe and beyond, keep the reader completely engaged, and at the same time, reflecting on one's own experiences with life and history.
__Tony Alicata, Quincy, MA
I finished this book last night. As I got towards the end, I couldn't put it down. It is a unique and amazing memoir that I don't think I'll ever forget. The letters alone allow us into the events, personal experiences, and psyche of two very remarkable individuals as well as the era in which they lived. The layout with the notes at the end of each chapter providing the reader the information on cited people,places, and events was very well done. This book is more than a memoir. It connects to the human soul. I loved it!
__Theresa Schimmel, Rhode Island
Best Friends is one of the most unique and beautiful books I have ever read courtesy of the exceptional author, Yvette Nachmias-Baeu. Best Friends is a book that is hard to describe because it is part memoir, part autobiography, and part history thanks to the many real-life historical events that are explored throughout the book.
Best Friends is a book I was desperate to read ever since discovering it because the plot alludes to a poignant journey of friendship and mental illness. Throughout the book, she will share letters which tell the story of her and her friend Beth’s lives. The letters exchanged between the two were written over twenty-seven years and will take the reader on an expansive journey from San Francisco to New York, and beyond, throughout many decades. Together the two had many adventures and were involved in the art and political scene in the sixties, which introduced them to many stars including Dustin Hoffman and Bob Dylan.
The reader is taken on a profoundly moving trip, especially because so much of it is shared through letters which are in themselves personal and poignant, making the book even more moving. If you are a reader who loves to be taken on poignant journeys and learn of key historical events through the eyes of people who were there, then Best Friends is for you and should not be missed!
Yvette Nachmias-Baeu’s story is an exceptional one that will speak volumes to many readers, especially to those that lived in the same era, experiencing the same events or those that have been touched by Schizophrenia. The story, at times, is incredibly profound, is still an inspiring one because the women the reader is introduced to are phenomenal and will inspire readers for a long time. Yvette, as well as Beth, are truly wonderful women, not only for their incredible writing but also for Yvette's reasons for sharing her story.
Best Friends is an informative, well-written memoir with words that flow beautifully throughout, so I have no choice but to award this stunning book a brilliant five stars. Best Friends will make the perfect read for you, so do not miss this book!
__Ann Aimee,United Kingdom, Red-Headed Book Lover Blog
This book is for anyone who has a passion for living an authentic life. A funny, touching and ultimately tragic chronicle of two very bright and talented women and their lives in the heart of the 60's theater, art scene and into maturity. The letters reveal the beautiful, high energy experimentation of youth and and the search for meaning in maturity. It's the journey we're all taking. She has honored the memory of her incredibly smart and talented friend. The last chapter is powerful in its honesty and clarity. She always make me weep with recognition and empathy. Yvette Nachmias-Baeu sets a great example of honesty and grace.
__Mark Hammond, Author, New York City
Best Friend reads well and I think has a broad appeal from a few perspectives. The joy and woes of coming of age and on-the-move in NYC and around the world, the process of becoming in chosen fields; angst of remaining in chosen fields sometimes eventually finding the ladder is up the wrong facade. The question of what friendship is, independence, mental health and the process of aging. The book flows nicely with dates, places, letters and notes, defining people movements and history. Emotionally and intellectually interesting. A read for all ages.
__Carolyn Hanke, Boston, MA