The Keys to My Heart #2: Awesome BFFs

Posted June 21, 2013 by Debby in Uncategorized

This is a periodic discussion feature here at Snuggly Oranges about the bookish things that steal my heart.

#2. Awesome BFFs

I think we all know and have complained at some point about the trend in young adult fiction to have the “bitchy best friend”. You know the type: they look like they’re awesome, but usually because of a love interest and/or jealousy she suddenly stabs the main character in the back, or they just stop talking all together. For me, it makes me sigh and shake my head. But we’re not here to talk about that.

We’re here to celebrate the awesome best friend. They are much harder to find but often times will make me jump up and down and cheer. Too often it’s all about the main character and the love interest. Friendships matter too! And if you have an awesome best friend, it makes the main character more likable as well – because they obviously have to be sort of cool to attract someone so awesome.

While I’m about as big a romance fan as probably every other young adult reader, great friendships can give me all the feels too and can bring a tear to my eye. I just love seeing the mutual understanding, the unwavering support, the teasing, playful dialogue… a reality check, when necessary. I mean, they can have their issues or arguments, sure, that’s only natural. But with the awesome best friend, you know that in the end they’ll always be there for each other, especially when they need it. Who can hate that? It’s too adorable.

Now, I want to take the time here and showcase some of my favorite friendships in young adult novels. And note here, by the way, that the books these friendships come from are all pretty much among my favorites. That’s not for nothing.

Exhibit A: Karou and Zuzana from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

“So violent. You want to mug and tase everybody these days.”

“I do,” Zuzana agreed. “I swear I hate more poeple every day. Everyone annoys me. If I’m like this now, what am I going to be like when I’m old?”

“You’ll be the mean old biddy who fires a BB gun at kids from her balcony.”

“Nah. BBs just rile ’em up. More like a crossbow. Or a bazooka.” Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Laini Taylor

Exhibit B: Gwen and Lesley from the Ruby Red Trilogy by Kerstin Gier

“I’m so glad I have you. You’re the best friend in the world.”

“You’re not so bad as a friend yourself,” said Lesley. “I mean, you’ll soon be able to bring me back cool stuff from the past. What other friend can do that? And next time we have a history test, you can research the whole thing on the spot.”

“I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have you.” Ruby Red, Kerstin Gier

Exhibit C: Parker and Kat from Golden by Jessi Kirby

Kat waves a dismissive hand. “Please. You’ve aced every essay you’ve ever written, mine included. You’re gonna get it.”

I laugh, but apprehension seeps into my stomach. “I don’t even have any ideas on how to start.”

“You will,” she says, with a certainty that makes me feel a little better. “You’ll figure it out and come up with something brilliant, and then you can put all your energy into more important things. Like Trevor Collins.” She sits back in her chair and smiles, shakes her head. “I knew there was something you were sitting on. You’re a shitty secret keeper.” Golden, Jessi Kirby

Exhibit D: Abby and Caitlin from Parallel by Lauren Miller

Suddenly, the depth of the chasm between us is unbearable. I don’t want to be in a fight with her anymore. She’s my best friend. She’s part of who I am.

I’m not Abby without Catilin.

Please, God, give me my best friend back.

I’m redialing her number when she calls me back. Parallel, Lauren Miller

Exhibit E: Bianca, Casey, and Jessica from The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

“I wanted to make sure you were fine…and that he was okay, too. You didn’t, like, stab the boy, did you? I mean, I totally disapprove of murdering hotties, but if you need help burying the body, you know I’ll bring the shovel.” The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend, Kody Keplinger

Exhibit F: Addie and Laila from Pivot Point by Kasie West

Ten minutes later there was a knock on my window. The window was how she snuck into my room in the middle of the night. She didn’t need to use it in that moment, but I was glad she did. I felt betrayed by my parents and didn’t think they deserved to know how much I needed my best friend.

I powered open the window and screen. Laila climbed like a pro over he struggling bush in the flower bed and into my room. She immediately threw her arms around me. “I’m so sorry,” she said again. “This sucks.” Pivot Point, Kasie West

    On a personal note…

    Friendships are important. That’s a given. But it’s not easy to find truly great friends. They are rare gems, and then I guess it kind of makes sense for not every young adult book to have such a great friendship. It’s certainly something that teenagers and young adults do struggle with.

    My best friend lives in London. It’s not that far, but it is a different country, so that hurts, considering I used to see him on a daily basis. We met at the beginning of university, almost four years ago, and after a rocky first start, he became the best friend I’ve ever had (yes! *gasp* it’s a guy!). Before then, I don’t think I ever knew what it really felt like to have a best friend, to be able to trust someone with so much, and to just have a relationship where both parties understand each other so fully. Which means, yes, I went through 18 years of life without that. That sucked. Massively.

    But if anything, I understand the value of good friendships much more now. I may have gone through the teenage immature phase in high school of blowing up over nothing and then giving my “best friends” the cold shoulder for weeks… I wish I hadn’t been so stupid. And I wish more YA books would show that friendships take work and compromise from both sides, and if you put enough effort into it, it can change your life. See, it doesn’t always come from romance, from Prince Charming. It shouldn’t have to. Let’s be realistic – a lot of us don’t find our soulmates in high school or college and it’s the best friend that matters. He or she is there for a lot longer, and it’s important to have that kind of support.

    *cough* I’m getting a bit emotional. Okay. That’s just my two cents.

    Let’s Talk!

    So, what about you? Are you tired of the “bitchy best friend” trend in YA? Can a great friendship make you love a book to death? What are some of your favorite friendships?

    Let me know in the comments!



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      34 responses to “The Keys to My Heart #2: Awesome BFFs

      1. girlusdorkus

        Funny you added the last gif, cuz the friend in Easy A was the epitome of the bitchy best friend cliche- and also very annoying.
        I adore good friendships, especially in realistic fic. My favourite friendships would include
        Lola & Lindsey (Lola and the Boy Next Door) (This gets ALL the feels because COOLEST CHARACTERS EVER)
        Hassan & Colin (An Abundance of Katherines)
        Will Grayson and Tiny Cooper (Will Grayson, Will Grayson) (Because, who wouldn't want Tiny as a best friend?)
        Q, Radar and Ben (Paper Towns) (they weren't conventional best friends, but they were far more realistic)
        and of course, the list is incomplete without the Harry Potter trio 🙂
        <img src=""&gt;

      2. There totally should be more best friends in fiction. 🙂 I love this so much. There was a great group of friends in Smart Girls Get What They Want and…hmmm…I know I've read more, but I would have to think on it a lot.

        Anyway, high five!

        Also, some of my best friends are boys too. Ain't nothing wrong with that, though it sucks being apart from them. 🙁
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      3. achoquet

        A couple of my favorite books were in this post, and I think the friendship aspect is definitely part of it. I'm one of those people who still feel as if they have never found a true best friend. Yeah, I have a boyfriend who I can consider my best friend, but it's just not the same. I don't think books ever really focus on such struggles though. It's much more likely they focus on love-troubles than friend-troubles, but I think everyone can much more relate to having issues with friends (whether finding or keeping them) than with romance. I'm glad you have at least one best friend, even if he's in a different country <3
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      4. YES to being annoyed by the bitchy best friend. I've been reading Mila 2.0 on and off and there's one in there and it's just. so. tiring.

        Also YES to Zuzana! I love Zuzana! While I was reading this post I was trying to think of who my favorite book friendships were and then you said Zuzana and now that's all I can think about because she is THE BEST. (Although I say that having not read any of the other books so I will have to read them to confirm that Zuzana is a goddess among us….has this extreme Zuze love gotten weird yet? I think maybe it has).

        Before there was Zuze, as girlusdorkus^ mentioned, there was Harry, Ron and Hermione who are really the best example of real friendship I think I've ever read, it is both beautiful and realistic: sometimes you fight, sometimes your friends are stupid and don't get you but when it comes down to it you guys have each other's backs and love one another which is beautiful.

      5. ReemAdelEid

        I think the first example that came to mind was Zuzana! She is a collection of awesomeness wrapped up in a human being. I love her! She is a breath of fresh air from the other bitchy best friends. I'm so tired of unhealthy friendships in YA, and the cat fights *sigh*
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      6. You know, this post comes at a great time, because I recently read Icons, and the friendship between Dol and Ro was something that instantly struck me. Yeah, I don't like both of them as a couple but their friendship was beautiful, and what they would do for each other was also amazing. It was an aspect of the story that I loved.
        I know that I have never really had a best friend. I have lots of friends and we all (mostly) get on really well but I have never had a friend that I feel that I could trust to always be there and to tell everything to. but then again, I have my family and they are the bestest friends I could ever have 🙂
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      7. Nikki@The Paper Sea

        Yes to all of this! I think it sends out a really harmful message to readers of YA fiction, particularly young women, that in order to have a meaningful relationship, it must be a romantic/sexual relationship with a boy. Friendships are meaningful. Friendships fulfill needs that sometimes relationships can't. I do wish that YA fiction would begin to show that more, and show that your best friend isn't always going to stab you in the back or bitch about you when you turn around.

      8. Karou & Zuzana were the best! I also went through a long period of being alone. I was bullied, but now I have four great friends too (3 of them are boys too, yeah, boys are fun) and a boyfriend who is my best friend. It must be hard to have a friend in another country 🙁 But I'm always happy when I come across a good friendship in a book 😀
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      9. I love this post! I'm always excited whenever I encounter solid, strong friendships in YA. Out of the ones you've shared above, I only know of Parker & Kat. Their friendship is one that I definitely adored! I think, when I was younger, I was lucky enough to have the Babysitters Club, Nancy Drew + The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series to look at for examples of good friendship!
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      10. I actually never thought of best friends this way, and now I realize they can be pretty darn important! I fully agree with you, though. It's more likely that I'd like the MC if they had a good best friend, because it not only shows that they can attract such awesome people, but it shows that they have the kind of personality that counts and makes it worth it to BECOME their friend. Eh, I just read one book that had a bitchy best friend (Rush by Eve Silver) and even though I sympathized with the MC, I ended up not liking either one much.

        Aw, I can totally sympathize with you about the best friend thing. I had to live twelve years without a best friend, so when I finally found one, this was me:

        <img src=""/&gt;

        Great list! Like Asti, I've got some personal favorites there. Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Golden, Pivot Point, and Parallel. The friendships in there made me feel all warm and fuzzy. BUT DEBBY – YOU FORGOT THE MOST IMPORTANT – HARRY POTTER! (I think girlusdorkus just became my new friend.)

        Wonderful post! <3
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      11. ABBY AND CAITLIN AND ADDIE AND LAILA I CANNOT. I need more of these friendships in YA, there are too few and it's depressing. There's also Rose and Lissa from Vampire Academy (*book pushes*), and they are AWESOME. Even if I don't like Lissa and think she should die. It's a great relationship, I swear. Oh, and HARRY POTTER. How could you forget?

      12. YES YES YES. I knew those two would catch your attention 😉 I WILL START VAMPIRE ACADEMY TONIGHT. So we'll see about that.

        I didn't really forget about Harry Potter, I just… *shrug* maybe because it's just too obvious?

      13. "it not only shows that they can attract such awesome people, but it shows that they have the kind of personality that counts and makes it worth it to BECOME their friend"

        THIS. So much this. And I just recently read Rush as well, and that has renewed my hatred for the bitchy best friend. I mean seriously. That book is all kinds of ridiculous.

        Awwwww that GIF is the cutest!!! I wish I could do that with my best friend but ugh, distance.

        🙂 Glad you loved all of them! I just left Harry Potter out because… I dunno. Too obvious. And the ones I named just touched me more. I like Harry Potter for other reasons, I guess.

        Thank you!

      14. Awww, I'm glad you liked this post so much! I hope you check some of these out then, because they are such heartwarming friendships for sure. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a great example. I've only seen the movie, but it is one of those heartwarming movies 🙂

      15. If you haven't encountered the bitchy best friend, just stick around for a bit in the YA genre. It will find you, make no mistake. Two big examples I encountered this year are Rush by Eve Silver and MILA 2.0 by Debra Driza.

      16. I agree, boys are fun. Girls are drama (at least, most often). I was sort of bullied as well, so I feel you on that point. Glad you have such great friends now though 🙂

      17. Yeah, there should be a less heavy focus on romance being the most important relationship, but also having the bitch best friend all the time just makes that the status quo… which is a really sad thing. I mean, books are inspiring and could inspire teens to change the way they look at friendships. They take work just like romantic relationships do. And I feel like most teens don't put in the necessary effort. 🙁

      18. I'm going to keep an eye out for Icon now 🙂 Sounds like I could really love that friendship.

        If you get along well with your family that definitely cushions the blow, but I hope you can find a best friend soon. It just takes longer for some people than others, I think.

      19. YES. That friendship was freaking flawless and definitely one of the main reasons I loved it so much. The endinggggg it was just so perfect <3

      20. Zuzana is freaking awesome!!! One of the best secondary characters I've come across in YA. Yes, the cat fights need to enddddd asdfjkl;

      21. Ugh, Mila. BIIIIIG part of the reason that book didn't work for me. That book was just all kind of blahhhh though. *sigh*

        😀 Zuzana is definitely one of the best secondary characters out there and part of one of the best friendships every 🙂 I will never blame you for extreme Zuze love, because I'm right there with you. And I also still need to read Days of Blood and Starlight.

        I guess Harry, Ron, and Hermione should have been up there, but I dunno. I guess I just like so much else about Harry Potter that the friendship was a bit overshadowed in my mind. But yeah, they're definitely up there.

      22. I definitely agree, so many people say their boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other is their best friend, but it's not really the same. It's great to have them as two separate entities. I wish authors would maybe take notice of this post and these comments, because YES too much focus on romance-troubles. *hugs*

      23. Oooh that may make me check out Smart Girls Get What They Want, haha. 🙂

        I prefer male friends, to be honest. Girls are more prone to drama that I am unwilling to put up with. 😛

      24. Ah, all the books you listed are on my to read list. Except An Abundance of Katherines, already read that one. I dunno, that one didn't really stand out to me. But I'll be excited to check out the other ones.

        I left Harry Potter out on purpose, but yeah, I guess they should be on there.

      25. Judith

        "Even if I don't like Lissa and think she should die" DYING over Amber's comment. Lissa is… annoying as crap, but I like their friendship.

        Anyway, I looove this post. Your personal note just made me tear up AGAIN. My best friend from high school and I haven't spoken in a year (guess we grew apart?) and it still makes me cry sometimes, but I always knew exactly what she thought and how she felt, so I know what that's like. Real friends like that are hard to find, and I'm grateful for everyone who is in my life and willing to stay right now. DAMN IT DEBBY I'M CRYING.

        I've had enough of backstabbing and bitching. Girls are supposed to be friends, and shouldn't talk shit behind each others backs. The one AMAZING friendship I can think of is, of course, Harry Potter. But I'm just thankful whenever I see it in books right now, even if the book in particular isn't that memorable to me. And if it is, this makes the book so much better! (Examples: Mia and Kim from If I Stay, Dom and Amy from Anatomy of a Boyfriend, Lacey and Beth in Dare You To…… my mind is empty but STILL.)

      26. To be honest, so far, I like Lissa a whole lot more than Rose 😛 Their friendship is… I dunno. Kinda weird. I wish Rose wasn't always commanding Lissa to do stuff, and instead… I don't know, support her to make her be stronger on her own. Their mutual co-dependence almost crosses the line into annoyance for me. *sigh*

        Awww, I kind of feel bad for making you cry BUT WHO AM I KIDDING, I'M PROUD OF MYSELF. *hug* Sorry about your best friend, but yeah.. growing apart, I totally understand. It sucks. But if she's really that good of a friend, she'll probably still be there if you ever really need her.

        I'm with you… when I see the bitchy best friend, I think I immediately deduct an orange from my rating… it's just so annoying. I don't want to put up with that stuff anymore.

      27. The friendship in CODE NAME VERITY! Particularly because it is exactly what you say in your post: a friendship that is not romantic but still completely meaningful in its own way and they really mean the world to each other. Oh god, I get emotional just thinking about it..

        Friendships in books always make me feel utter longing because I've never had that real "best friend" experience.

      28. Oooh, I haven't read Code Name Verity! I have heard awesome things though, and hearing that it has an awesome friendship just may be the push I need to add it to my to-read list 🙂

        Aww, well, judging by the comments, you're not alone on that! I'm feeling incredibly blessed, hearing all of that.

      29. The DUFF is one of my favorites book and one of the reasons (besides Wesley Rush, of course) is the friendship among Bianca, Casey, and Jessica. Same goes for Pivot Point's Addie and Laila, they're so comfortable with each other and mostly just rock together. Also, I just have to mention the friendship of Katniss and Gale from The Hunger Games (thanks to Jennifer Lawrence gif).

        But I'm not particularly done with the bitchy best friend routine in books. I thought of Easy A the first time you mentioned it so I guess I need to read more books on it. Sometimes I like to read books with aspects that kinda bother me to understand the backstory. Uh, yeah.

        So yes, a great friendship make me love a book to death (The Hunger Games, Harry Potter series, From What I Remember… (gay guy best friends totally rock!) and The Distance Between Us).
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      30. Ooh, yeah, I considered Katniss and Gale but I though that may be confusing since there is also that romantic element involved there. And yeah, I was a fan of that pairing, so hahaha.

        Sometimes the bitchy best friend has a purpose, but I find that it's rarely developed that well. It's really like one in a million, kind of. But in the past couple months I just read so many bad ones that x_x ugh. I start rolling my eyes the first instant it becomes apparent that they're going down that route.

        I don't know From What I Remember, but I'm totally going to look that up! And I can't wait for my copy of TDBU to get here. AWESOME FRIENDSHIP YOU SAY? Get here sooner book!!!

      31. Joy

        Absolutely! I wish more books would focus on friends than on romance. It personally took a while to find and discover who my best friends were, but once I did, I haven’t let them go since.