International Day of Friendship: YA Fiction

In honor of the International Day of Friendship on July 30, I read When You Were Everything by Ashley Woodfolk, a new release that I’d been looking for an excuse to read. Somewhat ironically, the friendship at the heart of this book actually goes up in flames… but its true value becomes painfully clear through its absence. High school sophomores Cleo and Layla have been best friends for years. But when Layla realizes her dream of joining the school choir and gains a new group of friends, Cleo’s left behind. Flashbacks reveal the initially subtle rift in the girls’ friendship devolving into some truly nasty behavior on both sides. Cleo struggles to move forward, trust another friend, and possibly even redeem herself. In a reversal of the typical setup in YA novels, a sweet romance plot is a sideshow to the central friendship. Woodfolk examines female friendships in a variety of forms, showing the processes of damage and repair. She captures the bittersweet experience of outgrowing old friendships, and the vulnerability required to be open to new friendship after being hurt.

Further reading:
I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal and Kimberly Jones
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive
“High schoolers Lena James and Campbell Carlson are not what most people would consider best friends. Lena is African American and a bit rough around the edges. Campbell is white and finding her place at a new school. They unexpectedly befriend each other when a racist incident occurs at their high school football game and results in a riot in the commercial district of town.” –School Library Journal

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid
Grades 9 and up
Hoopla
“Before they started high school, best friends Dave and Julia made a list of things they'd never do: never go on an epic, life-changing road trip, never dye their hair a color found in the rainbow, and so on. But four years later, high school is about to come to an end and Dave and Julia decide to tackle every single item on the list.” –School Library Journal

Girls Save the World in This One by Ash Parsons
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive
“June Blue has a solid plan—make special memories with her friends Imani and Siggy at the highly anticipated ZombieCon! and not think about life after high school. At least, that is the plan until real zombies take over: Now June and her friends must save the day!” –VOYA Reviews

Hope Is Our Only Wing by Rutendo Tavengerwei
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive
“Shamiso begins her days at a boarding school in Zimbabwe with a heavy heart. Her father has just died, plunging Shamiso and her mother into not only grief but terrible poverty. The school itself is barely staffed, since most teachers are on strike. Only one girl, Tanyaradzwa, reaches out in friendship.” –Booklist

We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive
Hoopla
“Kat and James have been inseparable best friends since the two girls met in kindergarten, but by senior year everything has changed. Kat, reeling from a breakup with Matty, meets Quinn and begins to question her sexuality and who she wants to be. Meanwhile, James has her world turned upside down when her mother announces that she and her father are separating. Kat and James find themselves facing big life changes…alone.” –School Library Journal

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth
Grades 7 and up
OverDrive
“It's 1975. Lewis lives in abject poverty on the reservation. His favorite band, the Beatles, has broken up. He's the only Indian in the class for smart kids. And he's in middle school. Times are tough. When George, a military kid, arrives, the two bond over their mutual appreciation of music. Lewis shares select pieces of his life with George. However, he struggles to avoid revealing the true nature of his life on the rez.” –Kirkus Reviews

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
Grades 9 and up
OverDrive
Hoopla
“In this revolutionary summer and autumn, Willowdean gains new friends, has her first kiss(es), evaluates whether to date Bo or Mitch (or both), and almost loses her best friend Ellen. Willowdean develops a better understanding of her mother, who lives for her role coordinating the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Beauty Pageant and fixates on body issues…. After Willowdean decides to compete in the pageant, her example inspires classmates who do not fit a typical pageant image to participate.” –VOYA Reviews

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds
Grades 7 and up
OverDrive
“Ali, 15 going on 16, lives in Bed-Stuy with his mom, a social worker, and his little sister, Jazz, who has a knack for markers. He hangs out on the stoop with his two BFFs, brothers nicknamed by his sister: Noodles and Needles. Needles, the older, suffers from Tourette's syndrome, and Noodles and Ali look out for him. In the lead plotline, the three boys crash an illegal party in the basement of a nearby brownstone and then deal with the fallout.” –Kirkus Reviews

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