Books That Taught Us What Friendship Means

July holds a special day, Savvy Readers, and it’s coming up soon! That’s right, July 30th marks the International Day of Friendship, and we’re celebrating in our very favourite way, A.K.A. a stack of books! Read on for all the books teaching us what friendship means this July!

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The German Midwife by Mandy Robotham

Is this a story of war, survival, hard choices, and forbidden romance? Yes! Yes, The German Midwife is all of those things! But it’s also one of the richest stories of female friendship that I have read all year! Pulled from the German camps to tend Eva Braun through her pregnancy – and deliver the child of the Fuhrer himself – Anke Hoff’s journey is fraught with danger. And yet at every step, she is surrounded by incredible women who shore her up, and whom she shores up in return: heartbreakingly young Rosa, who helps Anke deliver babies under impossible circumstances in the camps; Christa, who is sure and strong, a constant voice for what must be done no matter how difficult; even sweet, naïve, Eva Braun, for whom Anya cannot help but feel compassion… This story rides on the power of the relationships Anke forms, a powerful testament to the bonds that carry us through the darkest times, and I CANNOT recommend it enough.

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The Chai Factor by Farah Heron

A barbershop quartet competition, a looming deadline, and a spicy fling turned more is just the thing if you’re looking for a lighter read than, say, one that starts in a concentration camp. But don’t think this romantic comedy is a lightweight by any means! Amira Khan’s disgust with the hate she and her family receive as Muslim Canadians, her frustrations as a woman determined to advance in her male-dominated field of engineering, and the growing exhaustion of having to educate, forgive, or rise above ignorant people when she is just out here trying to live her life (!!!), The Chai Factor is exactly the rom-com our cultural conversation deserves. And that means a heroine who is not just supported by a big, dreamy baritone, but by strong, non-romantic relationships too! From Amira’s best friend, Reena, to her brilliant, dynamic family, and the motley group of boys that have come to inhabit her grandma’s basement, The Chai Factor bursts with laughter, much-needed pep talks, and sweet-smelling chai! The perfect friendship celebration!

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With The Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

“Sometimes, your girl reads you better than anyone else.” True words, Emoni. We all have that friend who knows every fault and quirk and beautiful thing about us, don’t we? That’s a special kind of love. One that involves getting roasted quite frequently? That just depends on how questionable your decision making’s been lately, doesn’t it! Ever since she got pregnant freshman year, Emoni Santiago’s life has been about making the tough decisions—doing what has to be done for her daughter and her abuela. But when Emoni plans to forgo the cooking elective that might just make it possible for her to live out her dream of becoming a chef, her best friend Angelica (Gelly) makes SURE Emoni’s doing the right thing for herself too. GET YOURSELF A GELLY PLEASE! This has been a friendship PSA.

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Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini

After Mildred Fish marries brilliant German economist Arvid Harnack, she accompanies him to his German homeland, where a promising future awaits… But as Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party wield violence and lies to seize power, Mildred begins to gather intelligence for Americans, aided, protected, and empowered by a network of women. Mildred, Martha Dodd, the vivacious, modern (a word read best in the voice of Dame Maggie Smith imo) daughter of the US ambassador, aspiring author Greta Kuckoff, and literature student Sara Weitz risk their lives to collect information from journalists, military officers, and officials within the highest levels of the Nazi regime. Inspired by actual events, Resistance Women is an enthralling tale of ordinary people working together to resist the rise of evil, and an inspiring story of friendship!

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Destroy All Monsters by Sam J. Miller

Brace yourself for this one, mates. Destroy All Monsters is a CRUCIAL, genre-bending tale about the life-saving power of friendship. If there is friendship more profound that Solomon and Ash’s I don’t want to hear about it. I’m declaring this the one. This is an All Time, ok? After a traumatic event when they were twelve (we don’t know what it is until the end of the book!), Ash loses her memory of the event, but Solomon? Solomon retreats further and further into a world he seems to have created in his own mind – one that insulates him from reality, but crawls with foes and monsters. As Solomon slips further into the place he calls Darkside, Ash realizes her only chance to free her best friend from his pain is to recall exactly what happened that day in his backyard and face the truth—together. Fearless and profound, Sam J. Miller’s follow up to his award-winning debut novel, The Art of Starving, spins an intimate and impactful tale that will linger with readers for a LONG time.

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Summer Hours by Amy Mason Doan

Friendship, love, and a haze of golden moments from a summer long ago: Summer Hours is a warmly told novel about the idealism of youth, the seductive power of nostalgia, and what happens when you realize you haven’t become the person you’d always promised to be. Becc was the good girl. A dedicated student. Aspiring reporter. Always where she was supposed to be. Until a secret affair with the charming Cal one summer in college cost her everything she held dear: her journalism dreams; her relationship with her best friend, Eric; and her carefully imagined future. Now, Becc’s past is back front and center as she travels up the scenic California coast to a wedding—with a man she hasn’t seen in a decade. Beach bonfires and lavish boat parties, the fervor of their youth, and the friends they’ve left behind…  as the events of that heartbreaking summer come into view, Becc must decide if those dazzling hours they once shared are worth fighting for, or if they’re lost forever.

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Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott

PLOT TWIST, Savvy Readers. Ride with me, okay? Swan Song is not so much a story of friendship, as it is about the breakdown of friendship. Truman Capote spent DECADES nurturing friendships with the beautiful, wealthy, vulnerable women that he called his swans – Manhattan’s elite socialites. They told him their secrets, their fears… And he set their world on fire with his 1975 tell all that left him, in turn, completely friendless! It is a fascinating (undeniably glamourous), incredibly sad true story. It’s a story I heard in college and has been stuck in my brain like a grain of sand (irritating!) ever since. A story of friendship… gossipy, dramatic, completely wasted friendship! FINALLY I have a brilliantly written, deeply researched, bitingly funny novel to delve into that emotional world in all its complex, bizarre, glittering glory. A different view of friendship from the empowering, life-saving friendships we’ve seen in most of our titles today? Very much so. An absolute whirlwind of a read? Hell yeah.

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The Humans by Matt Haig

But wait, Savvy Readers! This one’s an oldy but a goody (and also one of Savvy Reader’s own Jesse’s favourite books ever!). What would this list be without paying homage to man’s BEST friend?? Enter Newton the dog. A very good dog. An excellent companion indeed to Andrew Martin, the not-very-nice-man who dies before our story even begins… and is now inhabited by an alien sent to earth to destroy evidence that Andrew (the original) had solved a major mathematical problem! While Newton and (new)Andrew don’t get along at first – mostly because Newton definitely knows what’s up – the alien comes around and eventually loves the scrappy little pup. The Humans is a funny, compulsively readable novel about alien abduction, mathematics, and that most interesting subject of all: ourselves. Combine Douglas Adams’ irreverent take on life, the universe, and everything with a genuinely moving love story as Andrew (the alien) finds himself falling for his own wife and son. What you have is just a taste of the humour, originality, and poignancy of one of Matt Haig’s best novels.

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That’s it from me Savvy Readers! What are some of your favourite fictional friendships? What’s the last book that made you sit up and say “Yes! This is what friendship’s all about”? Are you inspired to fight Nazis? Or maybe just get a dog? Either way, let me know in the comments below, or over on twitter at @SavvyReader! I want to know!

Happy Reading!

Maryn

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