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We Should Not Be Friends

The Story of a Friendship

By Will Schwalbe

The Writing is Stellar and the Story is Thought-Provoking



WE SHOULD NOT BE FRIENDS is a story about a forty-year friendship between two men who meet in college and were brought together only because of their many differences. Will Schwalbe was an out-of-the-closet, gay bookworm with a penchant for Matt Dillon posters. Chris Maxey was a heterosexual wrestling jock who loved giving hugs and was always in motion. The only commonality between Will and Maxey was that they both attend Yale and were part of a secret club.

Despite these differences, the two remained friends long after their time together in college. Even though separated by thousands of miles, they periodically visited, called or wrote to each other to keep in touch and share current happenings. This book chronicles the decades of their unfettered lives in college in their twenties, through the recent years when they are dealing with Hurricanes, and Covid, pushing their sixties, and both battling health issues.

The friendship was not always a bed of roses for Will and Maxey. There were miscommunications and quiet periods that often got in their way of honesty. But they kept coming back around, forgiving one another and trying harder to be the best friend they could be. They learned much about life from each other, but it took a while to figure that out.

“All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness. Without tolerance and mercy all friendship die.”
David Whyte


The writing for this book is stellar, and the story is thought-provoking. An unlikely friendship always makes for a captivating read, but this is about more than the good times. It's also about what happened in between when they weren’t always considerate or open with one another about what was really going on in their lives. In their later years, they were able to talk about the times when their friendship may have stumbled, and that brought them even closer together. It’s a delightful story of both friendship and forgiveness.

Will Schwalbe authored WE SHOULD NOT BE FRIENDS in consultation with Chris Maxey, so there is a nice air of authenticity about the story. I had the pleasure of hearing Schwalbe talk about his friendship with Maxey and this book on a recent book tour, and I highly recommend the experience.

Schwalbe has written several other books that I have also had the pleasure of reading. The End of Your Life Book Club (2012) was about the books he and his mother read when she was dying, and Books for Living (2016) was about how books can lead us to live a better life.

Thanks to Netgalley for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Publisher Knopf Publishing Group

Published February 21, 2023

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