Romance is a big storyline in lots of Young Adult novels (rightly so!), but there are also some amazing titles that explore the nature of friendship, with its inevitable fissures and fractures. My latest book, "Unbreak My Heart," tells the story of Clem, a 16-year-old girl who commits a big friendship no-no and is dealing with the emotional fallout as she spends the summer on a sailboat with her family. There is a love story, yes, but at its core, this is the tale of a broken friendship. Here are five other Young Adult novels that wonder just what friends are for.
Siobhan Vivian's second novel, "Same Difference," gives us Emily, 16, who has the chance to spend half-days at a prestigious art school in Philadelphia, splitting her summer between the city and her hometown of Cherry Hill, N.J. Soon, she finds herself torn between the art world, where everyone wants to be unique, and the suburbs, where fitting in is practically required. Throughout this book, there are moments when you feel like you are Emily; it's a beautifully written story of what happens to friendships when you, inevitably, start to grow up.
In Bennett Madison's "The Blonde of the Joke," Val is one of those girls who’s easily led. Francie is a girl who leads with ease. Watching their magical friendship develop against the bland backdrop of a suburban shopping center is a total delight. They turn palming lip gloss and shoplifting Gap sweaters into an otherworldly accomplishment and the book sparkles with the fantasy of their illusory friendship.
Phoebe’s best friend and boyfriend are hiding a secret in Nancy Werlin's "Extraordinary"--they are faery siblings come to collect a debt owed by Phoebe’s ancestors. The magical aspects of the book are engaging and mysterious, but underneath it all, this is a compelling story about Phoebe’s own esteem issues, and how a friend affects them. Werlin tells the tale very naturally, and Phoebe’s realizations feel insightful and earned.
Courtney Summers' "Some Girls Are" outlines the pitfalls of the in-crowd in a shocking way that will have you feeling like you've been kicked in the stomach along with Regina Afton, a formerly popular girl who's been ousted by her so-called best friends. The brutal immediacy of "Some Girls Are" is riveting (and the emotional honesty at its core makes it well worth the beaten-up feeling I mentioned).
Ruby Oliver is the star of "The Boyfriend List" series by E. Lockhart, and as we meet her she's lost her best friends in a turmoil of drama and she's starting therapy. But also? Her voice is quick and hilarious and heartwarming and readers will end up loving her, forgiving all and hoping she finds friends worthy of her big, big heart.