Books & Besties: a GALentines’ Day treat
By: Sydney Kalnay, Training Specialist.
While I had crushes often as a teen – actors, boy bands, cute boys in my class – my first true love was my middle school best friend, Robin. She showed up at the start of 5th grade with huge, round glasses and a white satin Members Only jacket with a rainbow parrot on the back, and I knew I’d found my ride or die. We were both smart, weird kids with too much imagination (and maybe too little supervision) and we each recognized our soul mate immediately. Now, when I read YA books with a strong female friendship at the center, something hums deep in my chest – a joyful glimpse of my long-lost childhood friend – and I hold that story – the never-forgotten fierceness of that bond – dearer to my heart.
Literarily, Robin and I fell somewhere between Anne and Diana from the Green Gables books and Elaine and Cordelia from Margaret Atwood’s Cat’s Eye; only someone you love that much can make you that insane, after all. But when I polled some of my adulthood friends at OverDrive and asked what book included their representation of a female friendship, their responses filled my soul AND my TBR list!
Long distance friendship
For me, it all started with P.S. Longer Letter Later by Paula Danziger and Anna M. Martin. I believe I was 12 years old when I first checked it out from my library and it warmed my awkward little heart. Elizabeth and Tara* Starr were so different from one another and that’s what worked in their transcontinental friendship. They were experiencing the same prepubescent horrors I was: boys, changing bodies, their parents’ imperfections, and their own growing awareness that Life. Is. Hard. Despite all that angst and hardship, they always had each other. It’s so important to show young girls the importance of female friendships. I think there is a common trope in literature where it’s “girl against the world.” But, that’s not how life works. You can have your great love, your great challenge, your great whatever, but no girl is ever far from that one friend who’d drop everything to help them weather whatever storm may come. — Christina Samek, Outreach Specialist
I must mention Jane and Elizabeth Bennett’s relationship in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Despite having three younger sisters, Jane and Elizabeth are the closest of Bennett girls. I think it’s because their unique traits complement each other so well. Elizabeth is headstrong to the point of prejudice and Jane is fair-minded to the point of naivete. Where Jane reserves her feelings, Elizabeth states them plainly. These two could hate each other for their differences, but instead they appreciate them and wish nothing but happiness for one another. — Briana Johnson-Sims, Training Specialist
Friends stay on the same page
Willowdean and Ellen’s relationship in Julie Murphy’s Dumplin’ is the female friendship I love the most. These two know each other inside and out and are endlessly supportive of one another. I consider these two characters to be family, not friends. But, high school is a time where insecurities are at an all-time high. Jealously and uncertainties pop up daily and frustrations are taken out on those you are closest with. This storyline is extremely relatable for all kinds of relationships. Change is inevitable, but even through the ups and the downs, it ultimately always comes back to Willowdean and Ellen’s strong, loving, “on the same page,” friendship. — Lauren Bogatay, Collection Development Specialist
Fast and forever friends
The first pair of besties that popped into my mind was Ali Bell and Kat Parker from Gena Showalter’s White Rabbit Chronicles. Kat is a supporting character to Ali’s main, but they have an amazingly strong bond. Kat is apologetically Kat – that’s the best way to describe her. She’s fun and exciting, living for the moment and always speaking her mind. Ali is stubborn, determined, and fiercely loyal. Kat befriends Ali immediately and over the course of the series, their friendship remains true and constant. While the series itself is without a doubt one of my favorites (a white-hot romance, amazing characters, gripping plots, and jaw-dropping twists), the friendship between Ali and Kat is one its shining aspects. — Andrea Sieracki, Launch Specialist
Want more GALentines favorites? Check out our entire list.