Hey, Girlfriend

Jessica Spotswood‘s post at Stacked Books about Positive Girl Friendships in YA got me thinking.

About books with friendships between girls, and what those books are usually about, and when and how the friendship matters to the plot and the characters.

And what does it mean when I say, “I’d like to read a book about girl friendships.”

Which, I think, isn’t as obvious as it sounds. Because, well, readers’ advisory. Which some people think isn’t cool, or is simple, or is something that a computer can do if we just have the right program or data.

But, well, I don’t.

And here’s why — well, it’s a bit like when I wrote about romance, and how when I say “I want a book with romance” what I mean is “and at the end of the book, the characters still need to be together. No break up, no deaths.”

When I want to read about friendships, I want that to be the front-and-center story. I want it to matter. And, my default is to read about relationships that aren’t toxic or manipulative.

So, what are some examples to show you what I mean?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. The entire story is about the friendship between Julie and Maddie: how they became friends, what that friendship meant to them, how that friendship helps them survive.

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen. Basically, a year in the life of two best friends. But not just any year: Scarlett’s boyfriend is dead and she’s pregnant; Halley is falling in love for the first time.

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry. Two best friends share family, love, music — only hell and temptation could separate them.

Now, there are some books that have strong friendships in them, true; but the point of those books aren’t the friendship. It’s the romance, or saving the world, or solving a mystery.

So, what would you add to my list? And why?




12 thoughts on “Hey, Girlfriend

  1. Although — spoiler — it doesn’t necessarily end well, Swati Avasthi’s CHASING SHADOWS is one of the best friendship books I’ve read. That friendship is the tension of the entire story. When one girl falls into her mental illness, the other has to figure out how much she can be for her vs. how much she needs to be for herself.

    Tomorrow, if you’re curious, this topic will be making another appearance in the girls series. There are a few more examples there, too!


    1. And here is where it gets all readers advisoryish. Something can be a good friendship book — a good depiction of dynamics — but if it doesn’t end well, then, for these purposes, I’m not sure it’s what I’d want for that particular need, you know?


  2. You know, they’re old-fashioned, but I always think of Anne of Green Gables, and in particular, Anne of the Island, when Anne is off to college and lives with her girlfriends in Patty’s Place. So much so, that this year, in celebration of the few weeks when all three of us are 50, two friends (since junior high) and I are hoping to take a trip together to Prince Edward Island.


    1. Sondy, what’s funny is as I was writing this I thought that both the ANNE books and the BETSY TACY are two of the best series about friendship out there — I’d argue that (ignoring Anne’s children’s books) that the relationships Anne has with her female friends are more important and critical than the one she has with Gilbert. And, it’s not just Diana.

      And, well — Betsy! Tacy! Tib!


      1. I am so with you on that, Liz!

        Though I should confess that I haven’t read the Betsy-Tacy books since I was small — probably too young to enjoy them. (I remember thinking it was *weird* that it was snowing in March, LOL! But that means I was living in Seattle, which means I was less than 6 years old.) But just today, a woman came in asking for them for her daughter. I’m on a rereading classics kick this year — I should pick those up!


  3. I just read ROOMIES by Sara Zarr (on your recommendation) and was impressed at the centrality of the developing friendship between the two main characters– and also e excellent depiction of each MC’s hometown friendships.


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