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.