With shows like Girls and Parks & Rec, positive female friendships are once again at the forefront of our discussions about media. An unfortunately large amount of media shows female friendships as catty, manipulative, or frenemies. Think Regina in Mean Girls or Alison on Pretty Little Liars. So instead, let’s share those books that feature positive female friendships, the kinds of relationships that benefit both parties.
Violet & Claire – Francesca Lia Block
You might be noticing a theme here. What’s a TRW post from me without Francesca Lia Block? Published in 1999, Violet & Claire is one of Block’s underrated works. It follows Violet, a high school film nerd and aspiring director, who sees the world as if it’s a movie, and Claire, who lives in an optimistic sunshine world. When Claire becomes the new girl at Violet’s school, they become friends, and that friendship saves them both. Unlike many girl friendship novels, this friendship is never competitive or catty, it just is.
Hex Hall – Rachel Hawkins
While the friendship between Sophie and Jenna isn’t the focus of this book like it is in Violet & Claire, it’s definitely critical. Sophie would not be the same character without her friendship with Jenna, and she continually chooses Jenna, which is great. The novel is sassy, and well-written, and the narrator Sophie is super relatable. Magical boarding school for delinquent Prodigium (paranormal creatures), in Georgia, and it focuses on a teenage girl and her best friend. What more do I need to tell you? (It’s the first of a trilogy, if that sweetens the pot for you, and they’re all excellent).
The Blue Girl – Charles de Lint
This book. This BOOK. THIS BOOK. Often I can’t remember when I read a book, but this one I know was in seventh grade, and I absolutely loved it. Imogene is a teenage punk who joins de Lint’s Newford universe, befriends the school’s goody two shoes Maxine, discovers ghosts and faeries in the gymnasium and the library, meets (again) her childhood imaginary friend Pelly, and basically saves the entire world.
Saving Francesca – Melina Marchetta
At the outset, the group of girlfriends who are thick as thieves by the end aren’t really friends. They just know each other. But this book actually shows the organic growth of friendships, and it shows how important friends are in the face of adversity. Francesca’s mother is struck, very suddenly, with depression so intense she barely gets out of bed anymore. Francesca, in trying to keep her family afloat, is drowning. But her friends come along and help keep her up. The book isn’t devoted to the female friendships the way that Violet & Claire is, but Francesca’s friendship with Siobhan, Justine, and Tara sustains her even when she thinks nothing will. Every character in this novel feels so real that you just want to hug them.
A Great & Terrible Beauty – Libba Bray
I think every girl my age has read A Great & Terrible Beauty. But in case you haven’t, let me explain. Gemma Doyle is a British teen in the Victorian era living in India, until her mother dies and she has to attend boarding school back in Britain. I have very sharp memories of reading the descriptions of the loss of her mother and absolutely bawling my eyes out. Even though she has trouble fitting in at first, Gemma finds three good friends, and their relationship fills the void left behind by the loss of her mother. The trilogy (A Great & Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels, and The Sweet Far Thing) follows Gemma and her friends through a magical version of Victorian England. There’s a reason it captivated so many girls in my age group.
In celebration of Teen Read Week, I have been posting every day about young adult books. Young Adult lit is a vastly underrated genre by a lot of adults, but for many of us it’s still a great place to find your next read.