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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Best Friends FOREVER

August 12th, 2010 at 9:23

Day 22 – Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)

Oh, I do love me some platonics!

There are three kinds of relationship that really draw me into a story.

1) Siblings. I am just crazy about awesome sibling relationships in fiction – possibly because I never had a sibling myself, growing up. I never especially wanted one, but I loved reading about them in books. The Melendys from The Saturdays and other books are probably my favourites from childhood, a bunch of creative and very different kids who nonetheless genuinely enjoyed hanging out with each other. More recently I fell hard for Scarlett and her sibs in Maureen Johnson’s Suite Scarlett series. My favourite kind of sibling relationships in fiction are the ones where there is a balance of friendship and love and tensions, because of course that’s a lot more interesting than the ones who just pal around with no spiky bits.

I recently read ‘Are We There Yet’ by David Levithan, which I have been meaning to blog review for ages (along with a bunch of other books!) – the brother relationship in that book is astounding. It’s about two young men 7 years apart who have grown apart in recent years. Elijah is 17-18 and has just left school, and Danny is wrapped up in the world of the workforce. They have no trauma in their history, no big fight, they just stopped getting each other a while ago, and pretty much stopped talking. Their parents, worried about their relationship, trick them into taking a 9 day holiday in Italy to sort themselves out. I really loved reading about these brothers, and how easily they had fallen out of the habit of liking each other, and how different they thought they were, and how badly they failed to understand how the other thought. It’s a really gorgeous story which feels realistic rather than sappy, plus ITALY.

2) Just friends, no, seriously. It’s possible. There’s something really seductive for me in fiction which is about two people of the opposite gender (or of corresponding sexualities) who COULD hook up, but don’t. And in fact don’t actually fancy each other at all. It’s incredibly rare, but I love it when it’s well done. Heh of course I used to ship the two platonic friend characters LIKE CRAZY but now I appreciate the lack of sexual interest. Because you know, the world is not When Harry Met Sally, and it’s entirely possible to be friends with someone of the corresponding sexuality without fancying them.

After being all inclusive and all, the examples that come to mind are all het and girl-boy. I’m thinking about Gracie and Flemming from the Gracie Faltrain books, Alanna and Gary from Tamora Pierce, and Mara and Arakasi from the Daughter of the Empire books. My best example, though, is probably Anita Blake and Edward. From Book 1, Edward was the guy I was most interested in from the Anita Blake books, and while in my teens I shipped those two quite desperately, now I can really appreciate the fact that they don’t find each other attractive, and that he’s the one she hasn’t gone there with.

There’s a scene in (I think) Guilty Pleasures where Anita has been bitten and she needs Edward to help her cleanse the wounds with holy water. It hurts like hell, she’s in pain and vulnerable and I think probably naked, and he helps her with cool detachment, as he would help any comrade. The guy who we first saw threatening to kill her if she didn’t hand over the information he wanted, is also her best and most trusted friend in that circumstance. I love the fact that these two have always been comrades, always have each other’s back, and don’t actually think about each other naked.

I want to find some examples of gay characters who have similar relationships, but it’s so rare to find books with more than one gay character! The best example I can think of right now are T.C and Augie from My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger – they are best friends, and Augie is gay (though he doesn’t know it yet – everyone else does) and they completely love each other, having decided when they were kids that they were brothers. Maybe this fits more in the siblings section! (and PS Kaia, Augie may be the gay best friend, but he’s one of 3 protags in this book, not a supporting character, hooray. Did I mention you need to read this book?)

c) GIRLPOWER Nothing like the girl best friends, or gang of girls, who are actually good to each other instead of tearing each other down. My favourite recent example of this is Astrid and her fellow unicorn hunters in Rampant by Diana Peterfreund, particularly Phil (who I completely forgot to add to my list of favourite fictional characters EVER). Princess Mia and Tina in the Princess Diaries books also get a mention, but there are zillions of great ones out there.

And yes, these three kinds of relationships are particularly prevalent in YA fiction. Which explains a lot about why I like it so much.

Other Days of the Book Meme:

Day 01 – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)
Day 02 – A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about
Day 03 – The best book you’ve read in the last 12 months
Day 04 – Your favorite book or series ever
Day 05 – A book or series you hate
Day 06 – Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time
Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise
Day 08 – A book everyone should read at least once
Day 09 – Best scene ever
Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 11 – A book that disappointed you
Day 12 – A book or series of books you’ve read more than five times
Day 13 – Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)
Day 14 – Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)
Day 15 – Your “comfort” book
Day 16 – Favorite poem or collection of poetry
Day 17 – Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)
Day 18 – Favorite beginning scene in a book
Day 19 – Favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)
Day 20 – Favorite kiss
Day 21 – Favorite romantic/sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 22 – Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 23 – Most annoying character ever
Day 24 – Best quote from a novel
Day 25 – Any five books from your “to be read” stack
Day 26 – OMG WTF? OR most irritating/awful/annoying book ending
Day 27 – If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!
Day 28 – First favorite book or series obsession
Day 29 – Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)
Day 30 – What book are you reading right now?

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2 Responses to “Best Friends FOREVER”

  1. Kaia Says:

    Protag makes gay best friend totally okay.

  2. Hannah Says:

    I’m late to the party here, but Alanna and Gary were particular favorites of mine as well.

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