Book Recs: Fantastic Female Friendships

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I’m tired of books that portray female relationships purely as competition (especially when their interactions are about vying over a boy’s attention), or two-dimensional placeholders to justify the protagonist’s I’m not like other girls! mentality, or even the absence of female friendships.

I love seeing positive female friendships in my books, and I want to see even more of them. Today, I want to share with you some wonderful books that have fantastic female friendships. Usually when I do book recommendations, I like to lay out criteria for the books I recommend.

  • The friendship is built on mutual love, trust, support, and empowerment
  • The relationship is platonic
  • The relationship is not formed or developed because of a (male) love interest

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1. MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID

Reid’s protagonists and their female friendships always have a presence, but my favourite friendship is between Hannah and Gabby.

  • Hannah and Gabby have been best friends for years who help and support each other through the ups and downs of their lives.
  • Though Hannah is the main character, the pair help each other equally. There is a disparity in what characters do and help each other in books (more often than not, the side characters help the protagonist), but the story of Maybe gives Hannah an active role of being there for Gabby and help her weather through the bumps in her life.
  • Hannah and Gabby’s friendship shows the importance of friendship and how they can be our anchor in good and bad times.

Find Maybe in Another Life on Goodreads, or read my review.

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2. THE FORBIDDEN WISH BY JESSICA KHOURY

Though the friendship between Zahra and the mysterious ‘Habiba’ (her identity revealed later in the story) is one that is seen mostly through Zahra’s narration and flashbacks, it is one of my favourites.

  • Zahra and Habiba share a magical connection – one that is magical, powerful, and unique – that transcends corporeal existence.
  • Both Zahra and Habiba are powerful and strong women, and their friendship was one of mutual empowerment, exchanges of wisdom, and the utmost trust and love for one another.
  • Through Zahra’s bittersweet narration, we see how important Habiba is to her – how Habiba’s wisdom and friendship inspires Zahra and gives her strength.

Find The Forbidden Wish on Goodreads, or read my review.

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3. NOT IF I SEE YOU FIRST BY ERIC LINDSTROM

I remember reading this book, and feeling heartache because I adored Parker’s friends – Sarah, Faith, and Molly – and wished I had more friends like hers.

  • Parker’s friendships with her close-knit friends are the true highlight of the novel; they are all complex, deep, and so, so meaningful.
  • The friendships between Parker and her friends are incredibly realistic too – the girls misunderstand and miscommunicate sometimes, it can be messy, but they love and care each other so deeply that they work through their problems together.
  • Parker and her friends show that you can have completely different personalities but can still be close friends who love, care, and trust one another.

Find Not If You See Me First on Goodreads.

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4. TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE BY JENNY HAN

The sister-friendships between Lara Jean and her sisters, Kitty and Margot, remind me so much of the relationship I have with my own sister.

  • Lara Jean’s sisters mean the world to her; even though they fight and drive each other up the wall, at the end of the day they’ll forgive each other and make amends.
  • They do the small, little things that sisters do – they have pet names for each other, they embarrass each other, and they show their love through action rather than words.
  • Lara Jean gets the best of both worlds of being a middle sister – she adores her little sister, Kitty, and feels a sense of duty to look after her, and she also has her big sister Margo, who she looks up to and loves.

Find To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before on Goodreads, or read my review.

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Even though I love all the books I’ve recommended above, I think I’ll forever be on the search for good books with amazing female friendships. I think for something so powerful, wonderful, inspiring, and empowering, we need more books with simple to complex female friendships.

  • What are some of your favourite books that had a memorable or amazing female friendship?
  • I talk a great deal about female friendships, but what about male friendships? What was a good book that had a positive male friendship?
  • What do you think makes a friendship well-written?

Thank you for stopping by! If you have any thoughts, comments, or book recommendations, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

Next month, I’ll be recommending my top four #OwnVoices books of 2016 – I’m really looking forward to sharing that post. Until then, have a wonderful day!

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56 thoughts on “Book Recs: Fantastic Female Friendships

  1. Great post! I really love the friendship between Scarlet,Cinder,Cress and Winter in the Lunar Chronicles. As for guy friendships, I really love the brotherly relationship in The Wolfe Brothers by markus zusak. Also The friendship in the Raven Boys is pretty great.

    • Hi Hannah!

      Thanks so much for the rec! ❤ I’ve heard so many good things about The Lunar Chronicles, and so many of my friends say that it’s one of their favourite books. I haven’t heard of The Wolfe Brothers, but thank you for bringing it to my attention!

  2. Heck yes to all of this.

    “The relationship is not formed or developed because of a (male) love interest”

    I’m so glad you brought this up, because it seems to be generally overlooked when people discuss female friendships–and I know I forget to check for it sometimes, myself. It’s scary how easy it can be to not notice that a female friendship is somehow reliant on some peripheral dude. I’ll try to be more aware of that in the future.

    I haven’t read any of the books you’ve recommended, but I definitely will. Thanks for pointing them out!

    This is so sad, but I’m drawing a blank on books that feature a truly fantastic friendships. I’ll definitely be checking back on this post’s comments for more recs, though. =)

    • Hi Liam!
      Thanks so much! I feel that way too, so I was really focused on creating a list that doesn’t have to subvert any tropes in the first place. And hey, that’s okay! I think having a dude be relevant to a friendship is something that’s so common that it’s normalized. So don’t blame you at all.

      I hope you’ll enjoy them if you read it! :D

  3. I am in love with this post. Good friendships ESPECIALLY female friendships are so, so important and I wish there were more books that focused on them. One of my favourite female friendships is from the comic series Lumberjanes. It’s honestly so wonderful and positive. General friendship wise my favourite would be The Raven Cycle. Even though Blue is the only girl in the friendship group she takes no crap from the boys and always puts them in their place, haha. I love it.

    To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Forbidden Wish are on my TBR and I had no idea there were great female friendships in them! I’ll have to bump them up my list now!!

    • Hi Lauren!
      Aw, thank you! I wish that too, so I hope we’ll see more in the future.
      I’ve never heard of Lumberjanes, but thanks for telling me about it! I looked it up and it looks really quirky?!

      Oooh I really need to read more of The Raven Cycle? I’ve only read the first one, which I liked, but never got around to picking up the second one. :(

      OH I absolutely recommend the two, ESPECIALLY To All The Boys. The friendship/sister and family aspect is adorable, and it’s a generally fluffy read too! I hope you enjoy it if you read it. ❤

  4. I completely adore the sister friendships in To All the Boys. It’s just so realistic but sweet at the same time.
    Surprisingly a lot of female friendship books I’ve read are featured in graphic novels, my favorite ones being Rat Queens and Paper Girls.
    I also love the female group friendship in The Unexpected Everything. It reminded me of my own friends.
    Fabulous post as always! =)

    • Hi Carolyn!
      Right?! I adored it too, especially since I saw so many parallels between LJ and her sisters with my own.
      Oooh I’ve heard of those! Are they good?
      AH oh no, I was going to get out The Unexpected Everything but got out Salt to the Sea instead (which is a fantastic book, btw). If it has a great portrayal of female friendships, sign me up. :D

  5. Thanks for this post, CW! I love female friendships as well and REALLY love it when we get a variety. I agree with your recommendation for To All The Boys and Not If I See You First – both had pretty great friendships. :)

    One title that comes to mind for me is Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour – the best friend in that book, Charlotte, just makes me want to dive into the book and befriend her myself. She’s SO incredibly supportive of the main character and just an all around good person. <3

  6. First time commenting here, hehe.
    Just wanna say YAAAAAAAAAAAAS for the Maybe friendship. Of all the ships I shipped in that book, I shipped THEM the most. The bond was just so REAL.

    Anyway, keep doing what you’re doing, LS. And I always enjoy seeing a new post notification from you in my mail! <3

    xx
    From your sister from another mother :P

  7. Awesome post CW! I almost always put down books where there is boy drama, because I just cannot stand it. I think (at least in the books I’ve read) there are more and more strong female friendships (yay!). Some of my favorite books that have this are Code Name Verity and Under A Painted Sky.

    • Hi Val!

      Thank you so much! I’m almost the same now. I feel like when I see these overused tropes, I could be dedicating my time to reading another book that explores more interesting drama or themes, you know?

      Ooh someone else brought up Code Name Verity in the past, and I’m DEFINITELY reading Under a Painted Sky soon! It’s been so rec’d to me so much lately, so I’m going to take the hint. ;)

  8. I am always on the look out for female friendships in books, film, TV (pretty much every form of media really). Here are just 10 recs for stories with fantastic female friendships (YA, adult, graphic novels) & really I could go on all night :P :

    Iron Cast by Destiny Soria
    Remix by Non Pratt
    Empress of the World by Sara Ryan
    Under A Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
    Moonshine by Alaya Dawn Johnson
    The Girl At Midnight by Melissa Grey
    Mare’s War by Tanita S Davis
    Flygirl By Sherri L. Smith
    Zodiac Starforce, Vol. 1
    We Go Around in the Night And Are Consumed By Fire by Jules Grant

    • Hi there!

      Oh gosh, what a fantastic list – thank you so much!
      I had my eye on Iron Cast, Empress of the World, and Under a Painted Sky, bu I haven’t heard of the other ones. I’m going to hop on GR and add them to my TBR – thank you!

  9. Thank you so much for this. I think it’s always good to have a great friendship in a novel. I’d love to see two people (who identify as the same gender) who aren’t straight have an amazing friendship, e.g. two girls who are lesbians who are friends and don’t have any romantic feelings for one another, I think it’d’ really help get rid of the idea that bc someone’s gay they are attracted to every single person of the same sex.
    – Yasmin

  10. Ooh, I love this post! My favorite female friendship of all time is the one between the group of friends in The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord. Other than that, I love the friendships in The Raven Cycle and the Six of Crows duology (Inej and Nina are another female friendship I adore). I just read The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz, and it featured an incredible platonic m/f friendship!

    Madalyn // Novel Ink Blog

    • Hi Madalyn!

      Ah, thank you so much! ❤ I’ve never heard of The Start of Me and You before, but thank you for bringing it to my attention! If it’s a favourite of yours, I’ll definitely be on the look out for this book. ❤

      Ooh YES I love Nina and Inej! I haven’t read Crooked Kingdom yet (I reaaaaaaaally have to…) but I can’t wait to see more of them. ❤

      And ooh, thanks for rec’ing the book with the platonic m/f friendship! We need more of these books too, so I’ll add it to my TBR.

      Thank you so much! ❤

  11. Wonderful post! I agree that POSITIVE female friendships are definitely lacking in literature as a whole, but especially in the YA genre where it is most needed (in my opinion). I can’t even think of one example off the top of my head, which is sad.

    I look forward to your top four #OwnVoices books of 2016 post!

    • Hi Amanda!

      I completely agree with you – I think it is definitely needed in YA. If we give our youth books with healthy, positive friendships, then they have so much more to gain than the typical, nasty stuff.

      Thanks! I hope I won’t disappoint! ❤

  12. For female friendships, one of my favourites is Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic. Of the four, three are girls from three different classes. Sandry is a noble, Triss merchant class, and Daja Trader (the latter two classes do not get on, either, leading to a rocky start for Triss and Daja). But by the end of the series the girls are close and Triss and Daja, who did not get on at all in the beginning, are as close as sisters.

    • Hi Catherine!

      Yes! I’ve read those books, and I loved them as a kid! Heck, I read almost all of Pierce’s books!

      I agree; I love how the friendship between Daja and Triss really grows and flourishes, and I especially love how they help each other develop.

      A great suggestion! I shall note this for next time, if I ever return to recommend more female friendships!

  13. Yessss the series that I love the most for female friendships is definitely the Vampire Academy, although it’s a long one! I also love Because You’ll Never Meet Me for positive male friendships. Morgan Matson also writes beautiful friendship based stories, especially Since You’ve Been Gone. I’ve just read an Aussie YA book about best friends and losing that friendship which is called My Best Friend is A Goddess. Lovely recs CW!

    • Hi Jeann!

      YES I LOVE VAMPIRE ACADEMY! Of the books I’ve read, Mead writes friendship super well. Did you ever read the spin-off series?

      Ooh thanks for the recs! I’ll definitely add all of those to the list, especially the Morgan Matson ones!

      Oooh I’ve never heard of My Best Friend is a Goddess! But that sounds absolutely delightful and kinda heartwrenching? Thank you for telling me about this book, Jeann! ❤

    • Hi Grace!

      Ohh, thank you for dropping by then! ❤
      Ahhh both are fantastic books! I hope you enjoy them if you ever get the chance to read them.
      I agree! I’ll protect LJ forever. I can’t wait for the third book!

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  16. Loveee this post CW. You always have the best discussions! The friendship in The Forbidden Wish was such a welcome and surprising one. I loved it as much as I loved the romance, which was loads. Maybe that’s why I gave it a 5 star, hehe.

    Another female friendship I personally love is from Uprooted by Naomi Novik. It’s one where the girls save each other, get jealous of each other, figure out the truth of each other. I love both girls and wish there were more books with less female v female characters and more friendships. Oh! Another one is Truthwitch by Susan Dennard.

    • Hi Aila!!

      Aaahhh yay thank you so much!! ❤ I found the friendships more memorable than the romance (which I loved too), but it just stuck out to me more! I’m glad you enjoyed it too though.

      Ahh I’ve heard so many good things about Uprooted! I really, really, really need to read it. ;_; And if it has complex friendships – SIGN ME UP. ❤

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  18. This is an awesome post! I love female friendship in books and just them being friends no competition or jealousy :) Thank you for this list of awesome recs, it’s surprising contemporary isn’t full of positive female friendships but the whole bestfriend betrayed me trope is just everywhere :/ A couple of books I love with some great female friends are SoC (Inej and Nina) and Truthwitch :)

    • Hi Casey(?)!

      Thanks so much! I completely agree with you. I wish it wasn’t ‘refreshing’ to me, since so many of my friendships with girls are positive and mutually supportive. We definitely need to normalize positive female relationships in YA!

      Oooh I love Inej and Nina! I haven’t read Crooked Kingdom… so I can’t wait to see what may happen and how their friendship may be affected. ❤

  19. Loved this! One of my favourite female friendships – and certainly the one that springs to mind whenever this is discussed – is that of Lysandra’s and Celaean’s from Throne of Glass (are you up to date with that series?) – I just love how Maas makes Lysandra into such an incredible woman who can be both womanly and totally hardcore badass. Love to see more characters like the ones you’ve listed!

    • Hi Kirstie!

      Thanks! Unfortunately I’m not up to date – I stopped at Crown of Midnight, but haven’t really felt like continuing the series. T_T
      But I’m glad to hear that the friendship is awesome! I really liked Nehemia and Celeana but uhhh. yeah. 😭😐

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