Here’s to friends!

I was struck by a comment I read recently in a book (I think it was in Paradise by Joanna Nadin). Not in a good way, but in a ‘I definitely don’t agree with that’ way. I generally enjoy Joanna Nadin’s books, but this time she said something along the lines of ‘we always lie to our friends, we pretend we’re something we’re not’ – and I thought Whaaat? No!

This kind of attitude encourages the pernicious belief that many people have that girls are bitchy, that girls compete rather than co-operate, that girls are really only interested in having a boyfriend, not friends who are girls. Now this is obviously true for some girls (and boys, and men, and women). But in my experience it is not the norm.

Nicky and Zana 2

Zana and Nicky taken in ?1981 – friends at eighteen, still friends now.

Friends, and especially friends who are girls, are amazing. They make doing nothing fun. They make doing anything fun. They support you when you’re down, encourage you when you’re doubting, help you believe that you really are a lovely, attractive, intelligent person. Yes some of them actually manage that!

So when I read books I have to say I prefer it when friendships are (mostly) portrayed in a positive light. I enjoyed Sarra Manning’s Adorkable in part because of the crazy but realistic friendships Jeane has with her music friends. I like to think that the friendships my heroine George has in Music and Lies with Manda and Sophie are similarly positive – sometimes you get annoyed, sometimes you get fed up, but deep down you like and trust these people.

I’m going to give a plug here for a book coming out in the summer by fellow-Piranha, Claire Watts. Gooseberry portrays friendship both as I’ve experienced it and how I would like it to be for everyone – not perfect, but real. Mollie’s English friends are just that – real, long-standing friends who she will never run out of things to say to. Her new, adult-organised ‘friendship’ with her French exchange student is different. Prickly, cautious, and it’s not just the language barrier that is the problem, it’s that they haven’t known each other for years and don’t know if they really like (and trust) each other. But they don’t start off feeling they won’t like each other and the book follows the development of the relationship between the two of them – and other relationships – in a completely believable and compelling manner.

So here’s to friendship – one of the real pluses in life.

Gill-Marie Stewart

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