Friday, April 24, 2015

Discussion: Friendships in YA

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 

Heist Society by Ally Carter                                                                                       Amazon • Goodreads

All Fall Down by Ally Carter  

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson                                              Amazon • Goodreads

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!



  1. This is one of my pet peeves in YA. There's no much focus on the romance in these stories, yet it's rare to see a large focus on friendship. I'm always constantly searching for those rare books that do have that focus, but they're few and far between.

    Two of the ones I recommend though if you're interested are Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (historical fiction set during WWII in which the protagonist & her best friend are captured by the Nazis) and Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor (the protagonist's best friend reveals that she's been diagnosed with cancer).

    Thank you for this wonderful discussion post! ♥

    1. Me too! I figured someone else might feel the same way.
      I've read Code Name Verity, and I did like it-I had it on a list of possible books to talk about in this post. However, it seems like so long ago that I read it, that i'm not sure I could recall the details or really discuss it. Code Name Verity is one of the books I really want to reread soon.
      I've heard of Maybe One Day before, but I didn't really know what it was about. I'll definitely have to check it out though. Thanks for the recommendation!
      Thank YOU!

  2. Oh geez you've got to be kidding me right now, my comment just got eaten <.<

    Anyway, I really love friendships in YA, and do wish that there was a larger focus on them! Yes, Em and Sloan's friendship is amazing :D It's probably one of my favourite friendship novels. I also like the friendship in Golden by Jessi Kirby. You should defs check it out if you have the time.

    Great post! <33

    1. I'm so sorry! I hate it when that happens.
      Friendships in YA are amazing - there definitely should be more books centering around friendships. Thank you so much for the recommendation! Golden looks really good. I'll definitely check it out.

  3. I totally understand what you mean, Olivia! Most of the time, friends are present but are pretty pointless in the story. In real life, friends play a huge part in my decision-making and development, which is why I just adore seeing great friendships in books.

    I haven't read any of the books you mentioned (I did read the first Gallagher Girls book, actually), but here are some books I personally loved the friendships in: Top Ten Clues You're Clueless by Liz Czukas, The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes and Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. :)

    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

    1. Exactly! Seeing great friendships in books makes me really happy. Books where the characters have strong friendship definitely stand out. They are always better versus a book with nonexistent friends.
      The Gallagher Girls book just get better and better. The first two have a more contemporary feel, but in the third one the pace really picks up and it becomes more of a thriller/action series.
      Top 10 Clues You're Clueless looks really good! I had heard of this book before, and wanted to read it. However, now that I know it has good friendships, it definitely moved to the top of my list!
      I LOVED The Art Of Lainey! Such an adorable book!
      Thank for stopping by!

  4. I really really love books about friendship. It hits home faster for me than a romance. I LOVE FRIENDSHIPS, BASICALLY. Ahhh!!! There's so many good books out there I want to recommend you now, but, to be honest? Not enough. It's definitely more common to have a BFF who's just hanging around the background being useless. -_-

    But I adore all the friendships in the Mortal Instruments series. *nods* They have some of my favourite (plus siblings!! I love sibling dynamics!). And Skulduggery Pleasant wins the UNIVERSE for epic friendships. And hilarious ones. Dorothy Must Die has a really sweet friendship too, although one of the characters is kind of loopy so it's interesting to say the least. x)

    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    1. YES. Me too. Friendships touch me more than romances. Friendships, I can connect and identify with. Romances, while adorable are not relatable to me. I feel like the nonexistent or invisible "best friend" is so common in YA.
      AHHH siblings too! They are always great! (that will have to be a future discussion post.) I'll have to check out Skulduggery Pleasant - you always talk about it, and it sounds good!
      Dorothy Must Die was good - i've read that. But I agree - everyone in those books seems loopy.

  5. I had never really thought of this before! Great topic. I do think friendships aren't a strong subject in YA because it's mostly about the romance, and the focus is in the main characters. Or there is a fight between friends and then there's no friends in the support system of the character.

    I too, would love to read stories where the friends help and support the main characters, because I feel like it would help me relate to the story even more. I am a person of very few friends so I do think YA is lacking this kind of representation. Since You've Been Gone was the first book I thought of when I started reading your post and I then saw it, lol! Thank you for talking about this, really got me thinking about the importance of friendships in the YA world. :)

    1. I agree. Strong friendships need to be represented more in YA. You're right - the focus is always mostly on romance. And while I enjoy romance, that's not the only possible plot for a YA book. I feel like it would be more relatable to have stories about or featuring strong friendships. Not everyone can always relate to romances.
      Since You've Been Gone is amazing and will always be one of my favorite contemporary YA books. You're welcome! I'm glad it got you thinking - that's what discussion posts are for.
      Thank you for stopping by and thank you for the comment! :)