"Friendship," writes Beth Kephart (A Slant of Sun) "isn't all big gestures, ecstatic moments. It is also the littlest things, the humanity that happens between people when you find yourself way out of context and someone reaches out and pulls you in. Friendship is also what eludes Kodachrome." Nearing 40, married for 15 years, raising a son, and dealing with the rediscovery of a long-lost best friend, the author sets out to probe the heights and the depths of this relationship that ties us with deep bonds of intimacy to others. Kephart writes like an angel and is able through the magic of her prose to mine the poetry of friendship in her own life.

The author recalls the close comrades of her childhood and lets her son know that "the communion of unlikely souls" is a good thing. "I am who I am," writes Kephart, "because my friendships keep on 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. . . . Because all friendships are finally mirrors, they provide proof that we do exist." She monitors the deluge of feelings that sweep over her when a very close friend from the past suddenly reappears in her life. She also ponders the ethical underpinnings of friendship when a next-door neighbor squares off with the death of her husband, a South Korean. She finds ways to ponder the give and the take of friendship, the expectations, and the sweet surprises.

This marvelous book contains so many quotable passages that I hesitate to call this one the best but it certainly seems so at the moment. Take this to your heart and let it simmer there for a while: "Throughout our lives, friends enclose us, like pairs of parentheses. They shift our boundaries, crater our terrain. They fume through the cracks of our tentative houses, and parts of them always remain. . . . Friendship asks and wants, hollows and fills, ages with us and we through it, cradles us, finally, like family. It is ecology and mystery and language, all three."