Welcome to Authorology, where authors talk about their favorite parts of YA books.
One of the best things about YA books is one of the best things about the YA community: the friendships forged. What are some of our favorite friendships in YA?
Bodee in Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens. If I had a Bodee, I think my teen years would have been much better. There’s something about his comfort, his understanding, that makes me think about him even when I’m reading other books. I love Bodee.
– Joy N. Hensley, author of Rites of Passage
Windy from This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. This is one of my favourite books and the interplay between Windy and the slightly older Rose perfectly bridges that period in our lives when we pass form childhood to whatever the next level is. Rose is completely caught up in that transition but Windy is still on the outside looking in. She is still young enough to find all the deep emotions of her friend Rose kind of over-the-top. I love that she hasn’t yet fallen into the self-consciousness that prevents us from dancing with our butts wiggling, or making fun of the local bad-boys in the video/general store. She’s the kid inside I hope we all keep with our older selves.
– Kevin Sylvester, author of MINRS
– Marieke Nijkamp, author of This Is Where It Ends
Similar to high school.
The girls in Twenty Boy Summer. The fighting besties were so realistic. I had a similar relationship to my best friend in high school, and really felt for the main character. Especially the diary into the ocean scene! It’s like Amy burning Jo’s book. Don’t mess with someone’s writing. (The worst.)
– Heidi R. Kling, author of Paint My Body Red
Struggle against the world.
Most recently, my favorite friendship depicted in a YA novel has been that of Dill, Lydia, and Travis in The Serpent King. Told from each character’s perspective, Jeff Zentner offers three teens who must struggle against a world that wants to pigeonhole them for their own separate interests and desires. The Serpent King a story that is rooted in the love between friends – a kind of love that often contains complications, but one that shows that no matter their differences, and no matter the ugliness of the world, friends care for one another, all the way to end.
– E. Katherine Kottaras, author of How To Be Brave
Weird Girl and What’s his Name.
I keep coming back to Lula and Rory at the center of Weird Girl and What’s his Name, and I think it’s because their friendship is so complex. In the push and pull of their relationship over the course of the novel, I saw a reflection of the relationships that still have the biggest impact on my life. It’s difficult and messy and hard to understand, even from the inside. They’re also a beautiful example of the kind of closeness that can come from a shared obsession. Despite their differences, they share a love of the X-Files and that common center, both for the relationship and the book, makes for a lovely, resonant anchor.
– Rachel Davidson Leigh, author of Hold
They’re like, girls. Only, boys.
I’ve read Frank Portman’s King Dork four times and each time, I laugh out loud. How many books can you say that about? It’s the kind of funny book that makes me wish I could write funny books. But it’s also the kind of funny book that has a lot of seriously funny, and seriously touching, things to say about friendship, particularly friendship between young men.
To summon my inner Chandler Bing: could Tom Henderson and Sam Kellerman BE better friends? They could not. But the thing about Tom and Sam is that it isn’t all sympatico, fist-bumping, buddy-buddy stuff. They fight, they have stony silences, they get frustrated with each other, and they are both supremely uncomfortable in the roiling, hellish pit of hot lava that is high school.
They’re like, girls. Only, boys. WEIRD, right? Also: hilarious and awkward and dorky and really, just go read this book, already. Hang around for the touching, albeit sarcastic, friendship between Tom and Sam and stay for the ever-rotating, delicious names they give their awful band, like, um, Balls Deep. And The Chi-Mos. (Read the book. You’ll understand.)
– Kathleen Glasgow, author of Girl in Pieces
Friendship in flashbacks.
One of my favorite friendships in YA is between the two main characters, “Verity” and Maddie, in Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. It’s such a fun friendship in the flashbacks of the story as two very different girls from very different backgrounds meet in difficult circumstances and find common ground that grows into a close bond. In the “present” part of the story, it becomes intense and heartbreaking. It’s the kind of friendship that’s lifechanging for both of them, and I think it may also change readers a little, as well. Just thinking about it is bringing tears to my eyes.
– Shanna Swendson, author of Rebel Mechanics