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Tag: Judy Blume

Like Peas and Carrots: Girls’ Friendships in YA Lit

The month of September celebrates women’s friendships, which lead me to think about friendships within books and some of my favorite books dealing with friendships. There are times when I feel so closely connected to a character that I wish they were real so we could be best friends. When I was in middle school, I adored Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume. I read that book until it fell apart — and then kept reading it. I loved the new friendship between Stephanie and Alison. I really believe in the idea of having more than one BFF.

Teen literature is full of strong female friendships. Sure, there are books about frenemies, or fake friends, or even the BFF who betrays you. The ones that stand out the strongest in my mind are the books about true best friends: best friends who wouldn’t date the boy you might like, best friends who stand behind your decisions even if they don’t agree with them, and best friends you know you can count on even if you just had a massive fight.

Some of these books don’t start out with the main characters as best friends. Instead, something throws the girls together. Going through the situation creates and cements the bond of friendship.

Beyond “Forever”

Lauren Ortega, 20
Lauren Ortega. Photo by Claudio Sanchez/NPR

Back in July I heard an interview on NPR with Lauren Ortega, a 20 year old Latina woman, who was struggling to earn her high school diploma while raising two children she had as a teen.  My heart ached for her as I listened to her talk about the challenges of teen pregnancy and motherhood.

Then I received my Summer 2011 Young Adult Library Services in the mail, which included a study by Caroline McKinley of current YA female characters and their sexual behaviors and attitudes. These YA characters have complex emotions about their sexual experiences.