400 Friends and No One to Call
Breaking Through Isolation and Building Community
“This book is a marvel! Without any pomposity, this is a compendium of real life stories and useful tips about solving the universal problem of loneliness. Val Walker is able to walk a fine line that never veers into “clinical” distance or cloying sweetness. Instead she simply tells her own and her friends’ stories with very helpful editorializing along the way. I plan to recommend this book widely!”
—Jacqueline Olds, MD, author, “The Lonely American,” Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Psychiatrist, Massachusetts General Hospital
“Walker’s rich, well-researched message combines empathy and understanding with practical solutions and resources for breaking through isolation and building community.
—Annie Tobey, Boomer Magazine
“In this vitally important book, Val Walker has given us an informative and heartfelt examination of a world that encourages the kind of isolation that will kill us if we allow it. Walker shows us the way out of the pain of isolation, offering wonderful insights about building connections and relationships that will sustain us. This book is a remarkable achievement and should be a must-read for all of us on this deeply challenging human journey.”
—Scott T. Allison, PhD, Author, “Heroes,” and “Heroic Transformation,” Professor of Psychology, University of Richmond, Editor of Heroism Science
“With honesty, compassion and practical wisdom, 400 Friends and No One to Call grapples with a critical and timely issue. At the Health Story Collaborative, we’re thrilled to have Val Walker’s knowledge and guidance for breaking through social isolation.”
—Annie Brewster, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School, Founder, The Health Story Collaborative, Cofounder, The Opioid Project
“Perhaps now more than ever, the experience of loneliness and isolation is almost universal. In 400 Friends and No One to Call, Val Walker brings a collection of diverse voices together to teach us how we can break past isolation and build communities that support us. Her clear and compassionate voice carries the reader through an understanding of the forces that isolate us and offers the tools we need to break past the stigma and shame of isolation. By the end of this read, we will be armed with practical knowledge and resources to find a new sense of belonging.”
—Allie Cashel, Author, Suffering the Silence, President and Cofounder, The Suffering the Silence Community, Inc.
“Val Walker has written an important book about a paradox of our time: We have friends all over the place, and yet no one to turn to in rough times–a paradox with serious ethical and social implications. Insight and hands-on advice are needed. For those who care, Ms. Walker’s book is a must-read.”
–-Claus Jarlov, CEO, Communications Consultant, founder of Global Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
We can be well connected, with 400 friends on Facebook and still have no one to count on. Despite the promise of social media, social isolation is a growing epidemic in the United States. The National Science Foundation reported in 2014 that the number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985. An unprecedented number of Americans are living alone, particularly people over sixty (one in three seniors compared to one in five just ten years ago). Millennials and post-millennials increasingly report discomfort and avoidance with face-to-face conversations.
Social isolation can shatter our confidence. In isolating times, we’re not only lonely, we’re ashamed because our society stigmatizes people who appear to lack support. As a single, fifty-eight-year-old woman, Val Walker found herself stranded and alone after major surgery when her friends didn’t show up. A professional rehabilitation counselor, she was too embarrassed to reveal on social media how utterly isolated she was by asking for someone to help, and it felt agonizingly awkward calling colleagues out of the blue. As she recovered, Val found her voice and developed a plan of action for people who lack support to heal from the pain of isolation and to create a solid strategy for rebuilding a sense of community.
400 Friends and No One to Call spells out the how-tos for befriending our wider community, building a social safety net, and fostering our sense of belonging. On a deeper level, we are invited to befriend our loneliness, rather than feel ashamed of it, and open our hearts and minds to others trapped in isolation.
(Release date: March 26, 2020)