Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Guest post by That Bookish Girl- Besties vs. Frenemies

Where Has All the Girl Power Gone?
It seems to me that there is a shocking lack of strong female friendships in today’s young adult literature. When I was trying to decide what to write about for this guest post, I was staring at my bookshelves trying to pick out some of my favorite female friendships when I came to a startling conclusion. As I looked at my book collection, I found that most of my books involve girls in “boys clubs”.  The majority of the stories are centered around girls with all male friends; girls who are trying to prove they are as tough as the boys.

I do not know what is causing this current trend – maybe it’s that readers are looking for “strong” female leads. Honestly, I couldn’t say. Whatever the reason, it deeply concerns me. Because as I was staring at my books, I came to a second conclusion. Not only were my books lacking in female friendships, the friendships they do show are full of backstabbers, liars and haters - what we have come to know as frenemies.  

I for one, do not want the only examples of so-called “friendships” to be of these spiteful little creatures. I would like to see more stories featuring true “girl power”; strong female friendships that cannot be broken by boys or other toys. 

When did it become so wrong to have gal pals? What is so terrible about having a bestie to lean on and take on the world with. To me, that’s what Girl Power is all about. Maybe it’s because I am a child of the Spice girls generation, but I’ve always believed that boys may come and go, but your bestie will always be there, supplying the Ben & Jerry’s.

So without further ado, I have picked out some of my favorite female friendships in young adult. These girls demonstrate what friendship really means and they are the epitome of “girl power”. 

Lena, Carmen, Bridget & Tibby (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)

Friendship Stats:  These four have been inseparable since birth. They lean on, rely on and defend one another – no matter the cost. Even though they sometimes go on their separate paths, they always keep hold of what’s important, their friendship, their sisterhood.

Quotes:  "You know what the secret is? It's so simple. We love one another. We're nice to one another. Do you know how rare that is?" (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)

Scout & Lily (Dark Elites series by Chloe Neill)

Friendship Stats: Scout and Lily met as roommates when lily transferred to Saint Sophia’s boarding school. They quickly bonded over quirky personalities, dry humor and magic powers.  Although  their status as BFF’s is still relatively new, they definitely have a strong connection. they are incredibly funny and banter back and forth, but they always have each other’s back.

Lily: “I’m not going to just stand by and let you get hurt.”
Scout: “You’re not my mother”
Lily: “Nope,” I agreed. “I’m you’re new BFF."

She looked over at me, then enveloped me in a gigantic hug. “You came after me.”
“You’re my new best friend,” I said, hugging her back.
“Yeah, I know, but still. Weren’t you scared witless?”
“Completely. But you’re Scout. I told you I’d be there for you, and I was.”
 Scout released me, then wiped tears from beneath her eyes. Catharsis, I guessed. “I’ve said it before Parker, and I’ll say it again – you seriously rock, Parker. “
“Tell me again, Green,” I said as we switched on flashlights and headed through the tunnel.
“Seriously, you rock.”
“One more time.”
 "Don't press your luck."

Claire & Eve (Morganville Vampires)

Friendship Stats: I feel like the Claire/Eve friendship gets overshadowed by their relationships with the boys. I am not saying that I don’t like the Claire/Shane and Eve/Michael pairings, because I do, I just like the friendship between  Claire and Eve as well. They couldn’t be more different, but somehow they share a very deep bond. Maybe running for your lives from vampires helps solidify friendships. Who knows. All I can say is that these two girls are always there to help, listen and defend one another.  They may not be much alike, Claire is a geek and Eve is a goth, but they certainly love each other.

Claire held up her hand. “Swear.”
“Huh” Eve didn’t sound convinced. “Whatev.”
“Look, if we’re friends, how about buying me a mocha?”
“You’re the one with the job.”

Jenna & Sophie (Hex Hall)

Friendship Stats: Sophie and Jenna are just so much fun. They, like Scout and Lily met when they became roommates at boarding school. These two stick together through thick and thin and have come to really rely on one another. They always have a snarky comment and a shoulder to cry on for one another.

 Jenna and I stood there, staring at the passageway.
“We could go back,” I suggested weakly. “Tell them their magical road thingie didn’t work for us.”
But Jenna shook her head. “it can’t be that bad,” she muttered.
“We could try to go together,” I said, “I think we’d both fit, and that way, if we end up transported ro another dimension or morphed into a wall, atleast we’d have company.”
Jenna laughed. “all right, then. Let’s do this.”
Hand in hand, we walked toward the opening.

Rose & Lissa (Vampire Academy)

Friendship Stats: Rose and Lissa have been bond together since kindergarten. Both girls are incredibly protective of one another – Rose risks her life on a daily basis for Lissa and Lissa really begins using her dangerous powers to protect (and save) Rose. Like the other examples, Lissa and Rose would do anything for one another. They certainly aren’t perfect, but they always accept each other for exactly what they are.

"Only a true best friend can protect you from your immortal enemies."

“Lissa and I had been friends ever since kindergarten, when our teacher had paired us up together for writing lessons. Forcing five-year-olds to spell Vasilisa Dragomir and Rosemarie Hathaway was beyond cruel, and we’d—or rather, I’d—responded appropriately. I’d chucked my book at out teacher and called her a fascist bastard. I hadn’t known what those words meant, but I’d known how to hit a moving target.
Lissa and I had been inseparable ever since."
Anne Shirley & Diana Barry (Ann of Green Gables)

Friendship Stats: Oh, the bosom buddies. Ann and Diana epitomize friendship. They may not have a whole lot in common, but they accept each other for all that they are. These two kindred spirits are always there for one another and don’t have their friendship lightly.

 “"It's about Diana,' sobbed Anne luxuriously. 'I love Diana so, Marilla. I cannot ever live without her. But I know very well when we grow up that Diana will get married and go away and leave me. And oh, what shall I do? I hate her husband — I just hate him furiously. I've been imagining it all out — the wedding and everything — Diana dressed in snowy white garments, and a veil, and looking as beautiful and regal as a queen; and me the bridesmaid, with a lovely dress, too, and puffed sleeves, but with a breaking heart hid beneath my smiling face. And then bidding Diana good-bye-e-e—' Here Anne broke down entirely and wept with increasing bitterness.”

That Bookish Girl, a.k.a. Sarah, is a 21 year-old college student and Book Blogger. She runs That Bookish Girl, where she reviews Urban Fantasy, Paranormal and Young Adult books. You can also find her on Twitter.

Reminder: You have until the 25th of July to enter all giveaways, including the main Girl Power Bookfest giveaway of a copy of Alanna: The First Adventure and a snazzy t-shirt. 


  1. i love Rose & lissa! I agree though I love seeing those strong females, but hfor some reason there are many books that either have the main charcter have just that guy pal or that fake bff thats stabs them in the back. I loved the book Clarity! but she had no girlfriends.. I totally understand

  2. Great post & thoughts. You're right most books are about girl/guy relationships. Other girls are just in the way or not developed at all. Thanks for giving me something to think about.

  3. You're right about there needing to be more strong female friendships in books. I think that the reason I shy away from them so much is because they have the tendency to be cheesy girly girls or frienemies. I'll have to check some of these out, though! I have the sequel to the Sisterhood, so I should finally pick that up and dig in!

  4. You are absolutely right about the lack of female friendships in books (and movies too) these days. Even when there are friendships, they are either portrayed as shallow and trite or backstabbing and competitive. I think this is really a great loss, because good friendships can be a really important force in many women's lives. If the only relationships between the girls in books are antagonistic, what kind of model will young girls have when they go to establish their own relationships with other girls? I am so glad you provided recommendations for books with good friendships.

    Now, if I may jump into some feminist theory, I think this lack of girl power comes from a lack of value given to women. Since men are seen as better than women by society, a good strong female character wouldn't be friends with other girls, because that would lower her status. Instead, the author writes her as being part of a male crowd to show that she is better (by virtue of being more manly) than other girls. I think it also comes from the tendency for society to try to separate women from each other. Women are taught to ally with the men in their lives and to consider other women as either silly and shallow or as competition.

    Wow, this post has given me a lot to think about. I think I'm going to bring this up with my feminist book club. I feel like this is something we could have a lot of discussion about. Thank you so much for bringing up the topic!


Related Posts with Thumbnails