Today, we’re discussing Friendships in Young Adult literature.
This is a subject that I’ve always felt strongly about. I, however, have read a few books recently that really made me want to talk about it.
What types of friendships do we usually see in YA?
I feel like there are very few YA books that focus on or show strong friendships. In contemporary novels, there is usually a best friend, but they are almost always just a background character. The friend will have nothing to do with the actual plot, and won’t help with the character development of the main character. A lot of times, they are just thrown in there for the sake of being there, but they aren’t real characters. In Dystopian books, It seems like there usually isn’t a best friend. Even finding groups of friends is difficult. Because in Dystopian, it is usually the man character against the world (oh, and don’t forget the love interest).
What types of friendships do I want to see in YA?
I want to see friendship being emphasized and portrayed in Young Adult books more. I want to see books where the characters rely on their friends for help and support, where the friends are an essential part of the story. I want to see books with strong themes of friendship, and where friendship is not portrayed unrealistically.
This discussion was partly inspired and brought on by Ally Carter’s newest book, All Fall Down. But, honestly, all of Ally Carter’s books do a magnificent job of emphasizing friendship. I’ve been reading Carter’s books for a long time, and that is something that I’ve always appreciated in them. In all of her series, there is a group of friends that come together to solve a problem or overcome an obstacle.
In Gallagher Girls, Cammie has a strong support system of friends. At the Gallagher Academy, they all view each other as sisters. However, Cammie is particularly close to her roommates, Bex, Liz, and Macey. The series, honestly, could not have gone on without them. They are an essential part of the story. They are always there when Cammie need them. You feel like you know them just as well as you know the main character, Cammie,
In Heist Society, Kat has her “crew”, and without them, once again, the series wouldn’t be possible. Both Heist Society and Gallagher Girls also do a great job of showing teamwork. You can’t go on a mission or a heist all by yourself – you need friends, a team, people you can trust.
All Fall Down, again, followed this pattern. Grace is going through a lot of things in the book, and she needs friends. Noah is always there for Grace when she needs him. She also has Rosie and Megan, and together they help Grace with her (sometimes) crazy missions. This is another example of a story that, once again, would not be the same (or even possible) without the friends.
Another great YA book about friendship is Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson. This book is really about friendship, and I loved it. Not only Emily and Sloane’s friendship, but watching Emily branch out and discover things about herself, and make new friends (like Frank) was so amazing. This was one of the best contemporary novels I’ve read in a long time, and it really touched me. I felt like I could really relate to it. Sometimes, when you read a book it just hits you – and you weren’t expecting it. I LOVE the friendship in this book and all of the strong messages. It really gets you thinking.
What Happened To Goodbye by Sarah Dessen is also a great book containing friendship. The main character, Mclean, moves around a lot because of her dad’s job. Therefore, she never really gets to form close relationships or friendships with anyone. This book really delves into that, as Mclean grows to love the current town she’s in and make several really close friends. Sarah Dessen’s books always make you feel good and have strong messages that leave you thinking. The protagonists are always dealing with a lot of problems, and you get to see them develop and come to terms with things.
I didn’t even really delve into platonic girl-boy friendships or the strong friendships in Rick Riordan books. But, those are all discussions for another day. So, in conclusion, I think more YA books need to feature friends as important characters in the book and showcase strong friendships like these.
Books I talked about today:
I’d Tell You That I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
All Fall Down by Ally Carter
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
What are your opinions on friendships in YA? Are they the same or different from mine? Do you have any recommendations of YA books with strong friendships? Let me know!