Fabulous Friendship Reads
Over the years I’ve read a lot of stories about friendships. There’s something about these novels that draw me in and make me think about my own friendships that have come and gone. What makes a friendship last? Laughter, trust, love, good times…….What makes them end? Lies, betrayal, deceit, scandal……here are some of my favorites:
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – An interesting story of new friendships gone awry. Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal…A murder… a tragic accident… or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what? Big Little Lies follows three new friends, each at a crossroads. It is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
China Dolls by Lisa See – Loved this novel of the ups and downs of friendship, set in the “Chop Suey Circuit” of San Francisco right before World War II. In 1938, Ruby, Helen and Grace, three girls from very different backgrounds, find themselves competing at the same audition for showgirl roles at San Francisco’s exclusive “Oriental” nightclub, the Forbidden City. Grace, an American-born Chinese girl has fled the Midwest and an abusive father. Helen is from a Chinese family who have deep roots in San Francisco’s Chinatown. And, as both her friends know, Ruby is Japanese passing as Chinese. At times their differences are pronounced, but the girls grow to depend on one another in order to fulfill their individual dreams. Then, everything changes in a heartbeat with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Suddenly the government is sending innocent Japanese to internment camps under suspicion, and Ruby is one of them. But which of her friends betrayed her?
Looking for Alaska by John Green – A story of young friendship that you will never forget! Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then. . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See – International historical fiction brings to light the types different types of friendships. In nineteenth-century China, in a remote Hunan county, a girl named Lily, at the tender age of seven, is paired with a laotong, “old same,” in an emotional match that will last a lifetime. The laotong, Snow Flower, introduces herself by sending Lily a silk fan on which she’s painted a poem in nu shu, a unique language that Chinese women created in order to communicate in secret, away from the influence of men. As the years pass, Lily and Snow Flower send messages on fans, compose stories on handkerchiefs, reaching out of isolation to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments. Together, they endure the agony of foot-binding, and reflect upon their arranged marriages, shared loneliness, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood. The two find solace, developing a bond that keeps their spirits alive. But when a misunderstanding arises, their deep friendship suddenly threatens to tear apart.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan – A contemporary classic about lifelong friends. After being drawn together by the shadows of their past, four women start meeting every week in San Francisco to engage in hobbies they all enjoy. After one of the four members dies, her daughter takes her place to fulfill her mother’s dying wish. After the revelation of a secret, the women are forced to think back to their pasts and remember the sometimes painful events of their lives.
Lisa Ryan is a Librarian working in Reference Services.