I am so excited to read John Green’s latest novel, Turtles All the Way Down, and a big reason is Green writes such memorable best friends in YA. No one will ever know you as well as your closest buddies, and having a best friend is a special kind of love and companionship. It’s a bond that runs deeper than romance and thicker than blood. Maybe that’s why there are so many awesome depictions of best friends in YA literature. Here are five of my favorite best friend relationships in young adult literature. Who are yours?
Harry, Ron, and Hermione are an unstoppable gang, but to me, throughout all the epic adventures and drama of the series, it is Ron and Harry’s friendship that is the core friendship in the trio. Ron and Harry are instafriends when they meet at King’s Cross Station before embarking to their first year at Hogwarts. These best friends in YA bond quickly over mutual senses of honor and compassion and a distaste for Malfoly’s cruelty and elitism. Sometimes, the dynamics of their friendship are strained by their differences, particularly Harry’s wealth and fame vs. Ron’s poverty and status as “Harry Potter’s best friend.” Yet Harry is jealous of Ron, too. As much as the Weasley’s unofficially adopt Harry, he is envious of Ron’s large and loving family when he grew up in Dursley hell. This really comes to the forefront in the fourth book, Goblet of Fire, when Harry becomes a contestant in the Triwizard Tournament, which pushes Ron over the edge. They eventually work things through, and their friendship emerges even stronger than ever. These besties are willing to do anything to help each other right up to the end.
Natasha (Tash) has been best friends with Jacklyn (Jack) Harlow and Jack’s older brother, Paul, forever. She remarks early on that she felt they were meant to be besties and would have found each other even if they didn’t live in the same town. What I love about Tash and Jack’s friendship is how they have almost night and day personalities and some similar interests but overcome their differences with such a strong connection. Jack can be surly and unfriendly, and she knows to leave handling most PR and fandom duties to Tash, who is more outgoing. Tash knows to be considerate of her best friend’s quirks, and appreciates how protective Jack can be. These two are so tight they really know each other’s limits and give each other brutally honest advice. Ultimately, when it comes to best friends in YA, they have each other’s back.
Only a best friend would put up with listening to hours and hours of your crush on that special someone even if they know that crush is totally out of reach. And that’s exactly what Ben does for Quentin, the lovestruck hero of John Green’s Paper Towns, who pines for the intimidating and electrifying Margot. When Margot vanishes, nobody really notices. She’s just that kind of girl, mysterious and unpredictable. She always comes back. Until she doesn’t. While everyone moves on, Quentin becomes obsessed with finding and rescuing Margot. Even though he thinks it’s a hopeless quest, Ben supports Quentin, getting involved in some deep research to track down leads, being a copilot on adventures that turn out to be dead ends, and taking risks along the way. Even though Ben is honest with Quentin about the limitations of their search—and the possibility Margot doesn’t even want to be found—he still helps his best friend through the emotionally grueling journey. Best friends are willing to support their other half no matter what, even if they know it could end in pain, because best friends in YA are there to help you pick up the pieces and move on.
Let me guess: as soon as you read the title to this novel, you instantly heard Kelly Clarkson belt out the chorus for “Since U Been Gone”? Yeah, me, too. This contemporary YA novel is just as powerful a story about friendship as Clarkson’s emotional ballad. While Sloane is charismatic and larger-than-life, Emily is quieter and more reserved. Sloane has always tried to push Emily out of her comfort zone and help her become more comfortable with herself. One day, though, Sloane just ups and disappears, leaving a confused and hurt Emily to figure out what the heck just happened. Sloane has always given Emily lists of challenges, but Emily only ever finishes a few of them. When a letter from Sloane arrives with a list of 13 challenges, though, Emily is determined to cross off every item, even if it means taking big risks with her heart, mind, and fears—she’ll do all of them if it will bring Sloane back. What this charming novel by Morgan Matson gets so right about friendship is that best friends are the ones who help each other grow. Sloane’s list demonstrates she knows exactly what quirky and deep phobias and anxieties Emily holds onto and how she can work through them. True best friends in YA know every dark corner of your mind and soul and help you overcome your setbacks and live your best life.
When Cath arrives on campus at the University of Nebraska, she is almost instantly severed from her twin sister, Wren. Together, they’ve made it through growing up without their mother, a relationship that blossomed around the fandom of Simon Snow, the Harry Potter-esque fantasy series that inspired the twins’ epic fan fiction. But though they are both going to the same college, Wren insists on rooming alone. Which pairs Cath with Reagan, her older and edgier roommate who comes with an awesome guy friend, Levi. At first, being apart from Wren is every bit as anxiety-inducing as Cath thought it would be. But soon, Reagan takes Cath under her wing and gets her out of her hermit-like existence in the dorm. Reagan is a cup of strong coffee and will not lie to Cath, and she helps push Cath out of twindom and develop an identity and life of her own.The best kind of best friends in YA are the ones who help you grow and bring out the best in you.
Take my fun YA Bestie Quiz to find out which YA besties are most like your friends. Quiz: Which YA Besties Are Most Like Your Friends?