I read a lot of young adult fiction, and I am getting tired of books where romance is the only thing that matters. Of protagonists who have "not like other girls" syndrome, who are not friends with other girls, whose only interests and relationships are with the mysterious bad boy who deigns to notice them. So here are five books that focus on friends first and foremost. Even though I read a lot of YA, including some excellent novels, it was quite a hard list to put together. Any other recommendations are more than welcome!
1. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
The classic YA friendship novel. Four best friends, all quite different in personality, who are forced to spend the summer apart for the first time. Despite the silly-sounding title, it is a fabulous series.
2. The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
Maureen Johnson has written many books, but I think this might be her best. It follows a year in the life of three best friends since childhood, whose relationship changes when two of three begin dating each other.
3. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
The first in a trilogy, A Great and Terrible Beauty is a Victorian gothic about four girls at a boarding school who discover the entrance to a mysterious, magical Realm and must fight the evil that lurks there. The girls don't always get along. They can be cruel and jealous, and can cause as many problems for each other as they solve. But their relationship always feels painfully, dreadfully real.
4. Wither by Lauren de Stefano
In a dystopian world where all women die age 20, and men die age 25, the rich and fabulous have taken to buying groups of wives to ensure the future generation. When Rhine is kidnapped off the street and sold to a rich husband, she will do anything to escape. But along the way, she develops close, challenging, painful relationships with her three "sister wives," the young women who, willingly or unwillingly, have been thrown together into this luxurious prison.
5. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Technically, Delirium is not all about friends. This dystopian novel imagines a world where love is treated as a disease, and where everyone is "cured" of it by their 18th birthday. Obviously, an epic romance is forthcoming. But, fairly uniquely, this novel considers "love" in all forms, including the close best friend relationship between protagonist Lena and her childhood friend Hana. The result is a gripping and moving novel that stands out among all the dystopian stories that have hit the shelves over the past few years.