The Frame-Up

June 5th 2018

The Frame-Up - Bookcover

Boy/Girl Friendships in Middle Grade Fiction

 

In fiction, it seems like it’s very hard for guys and girls to remain just friends. In YA, it’s practically unheard of.

And yet we would all agree that opposite sex friendships can be some of the most satisfying relationships a person can have.

Middle Grade fiction appears to be the last hurrah in the boy/girl friendship.

And even then, it’s hard for the kids to hang on:

“Where are you going anyway? To your boyfriend’s?” I clutched my bag tight and stood as tall as I could. “He’s not my boyfriend!” Kate laughed as she pushed past. “Right.” I stomped outside, cringing as the door banged shut. So much for my cover. Stupid sister. The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society, Janet Sumner Johnson.

 

 

PB&J

 

I thought of this a lot when I was writing It’s a Mystery, Pig Face! I wanted Tracy and Ralph to be BFF’s.

And I wanted not a whisper of attraction to dog that friendship.

When I was Tracy’s age I had several really close male friends, and their perspective on the world was invaluable to me.

 

 

Pig-Face Cover

 

This past weekend I read a really lovely book, The Last Boy at St. Edith’s by Lee Gjertsen Malone.

One of the most important plot points of the book is that the main character, Jeremy, has mostly girls as his best friends. At one point, he has to admit to himself that he kinds of likes it that way, not because he has crushes on the girls, but because he feels he can really talk to them and be himself.

I think that’s why boy/girl friendships at that age are so helpful to both parties.

Sometimes they allow us to break away from the pack and try on new identities, be more vulnerable.

 

Last boy at St. Ediths

 

A book which is coming out soon – September 6th, 2016, which also does a lovely job of exploring boy/girl friendships, is Howard Wallace, P.I.

 

howard wallace

 

Howard Wallace is a hard-boiled kid. Think Humphrey Bogart, think loner. Think a boy whose best friend is Big Blue his bike. But when Ivy insinuates herself into his detective agency and ultimately his life, Howard is forced to concede that having a friend is important, and having a friend who is a girl like Ivy is a bonus.

In all of the books I’ve noted above, including my own, the path to friendship can be rocky.

But Annie and Jason, Tracy and Ralph, Jeremy and Claudia, Howard and Ivy, would all agree that true friendship trumps all things and that it is possible for boys and girls to be friends without having a romantic backstory.

Other books that handle these friendships well:

  • Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz
  • Harry Potter (for Harry and Hermione)
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Sidney and Sydney by Michele Jakubowski
  • A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle

I’d love to know what books you’d recommend with strong boy/girl friendships. Do share!

 

2 thoughts on “Boy/Girl Friendships in Middle Grade Fiction”

Anne

Ally Condie’s SUMMERLOST has a wonderful boy/girl friendship at its center. They usher at an outdoor summer Shakespeare festival.

Wendy McLeod MacKnight

I haven’t read that yet but I am adding it to my To Be Read list! (which continues to grow…)

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