This week’s theme comes courtesy of Anna @ Reading Peaches, who asked me to rec books with good best friend relationships. So here I am.
But obviously, to make things difficult for me, she had to say, the bestest of best friends who don’t go on to become lovers. Because she’s difficult like that. That’s not to say these books don’t contain romance, but they also contain the best friendships.
So, let’s go!
On the Jellicoe Road
In this lyrical, absorbing, award-winning novel, nothing is as it seems, and every clue leads to more questions.
At age eleven, Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother. At fourteen, she ran away from boarding school, only to be tracked down and brought back by a mysterious stranger. Now seventeen, Taylor’s the reluctant leader of her school’s underground community, whose annual territory war with the Townies and visiting Cadets has just begun. This year, though, the Cadets are led by Jonah Griggs, and Taylor can’t avoid his intense gaze for long. To make matters worse, Hannah, the one adult Taylor trusts, has disappeared. But if Taylor can piece together the clues Hannah left behind, the truth she uncovers might not just settle her past, but also change her future.
You didn’t really expect me to not include Marchetta on this list, did you? Does anyone write best friends as well as she does? The answer is no, and Taylor and Raffy are my absolute favourites. That it’s a hate-to-love as well is just the cherry on top.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here
What if you aren’t the Chosen One?
The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions…
Patrick Ness is one of my favourite authors ever, so, yeah, another one I was always going to rec. This is also a book with a great found family. But the bestest of best friends, Mikey and Jared, are what makes this book great. (And Mikey and Henna too, to be honest. Just Mikey really.)
Beneath the Citadel
In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.
In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.
Okay, so I couldn’t quite make it through this list without a book that happens to have friends to lovers, but really, it’s incidental to the plot in this one (and also gay, so that’s a free pass surely). Everything in this book centres around friendship (and fighting the system, obviously).
Aru Shah and the End of Time
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
Sometimes you really do have to go to middle grade to get the best friendships. But, honestly, Roshani Chokshi is such an amazing author and I’ll read anything she ever writes so. Guess I’ll still be reading middle grade when I’m 84.
Letters to the Lost
CWs: discussion of death, past child abuse of side character
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.
Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.
When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.
This book is a romance, sure, but it’s also got an amazing friendship between two guys at the heart of it too. Guys who, even if they don’t tell each other everything all the time, are completely there for one another.
It was (not actually so) surprisingly hard to find books which had great friendships which, a) didn’t really fall under found family so much, and b) didn’t end up as lovers. And, y’know, centered that friendship.
What are some of your recs?