I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a shit show, and it’s for that reason that trying to appreciate all the lovely things we’ve had this year is so important. This year has sucked, but I know it would have been so much worse without my friends.
My friends and I are spread all across the country (and even further afield!), but thanks to the wonder of the internet we’ve still been able to meet up virtually for a chat or a drink or an online quiz. Losing my Grandma back in April would have hurt so much more than it already did if I hadn’t been able to message my friends whenever grief was making me feel like crap, or when the darkest points of this year felt so hopeless.
So to celebrate how very lucky I am to have the incredible friends that I have, today I thought I’d talk about some of the fictional friendships I read this year* that have stuck with me!
*These are books I read this year, not necessarily books that were published this year.
Henry and Ling from Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray
This series has quickly become one of my favourites and I adored the second book, which I read back in January. I loved the plot and the pacing of this novel, but I was also very pleasantly surprised by the friendship that blossomed between Henry and Ling, and it’s a relationship that’s continued to be one of my favourite relationships in the series. These two are so different but they work so well together and have such great chemistry, but it’s a chemistry that never borders on romance (especially as Henry is gay and Ling is asexual and possible biromantic) and I don’t think we see enough men and women just being friends in YA.
Jane and Katherine from Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland
I loved Dread Nation so I was already highly anticipating this sequel and its focus on the friendship between Jane and Katherine, as opposed to Jane’s romantic life, meant so much to me—especially as Katherine is another heroine from a historical YA novel who identifies as asexual, although neither she nor Ling use that word. In fact Katherine is aroace and seeing that rep on the page, and seeing a story acknowledge that friendships are just as meaningful and life-changing and important as romantic relationships, made me so very happy. Like Henry and Ling, these two are different enough that they shouldn’t get along – and they didn’t get along for the majority of the first book – but the way their friendship grows, and how much they come to mean to each other, is wonderful.
Claudia and Monday from Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
I love YA thrillers and Tiffany D. Jackson is my favourite YA thriller author alongside Karen M. McManus. When I borrowed the audiobook of this novel from the library, I had no idea just how much it was going to punch me in the gut and just how much of an impact the friendship between Claudia and Monday would have on me. When 14-year-old Monday Charles goes missing, her best friend Claudia is the only one who refuses to stop searching for her and I know this story is one that will stay with me forever—not only because the whole novel left such a bruise on my soul, but because I couldn’t help thinking of my closest friends and what I would do if one of them went missing. I wouldn’t stop looking for them either, and I think Monday’s Not Coming does such a wonderful job of reminding us how powerful the friendships we make as young teenagers, with those people who seem like the whole world to us, really are.