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7 Novels Portraying Complicated Female Friendships

by  | April 13
Friends walking through park

Friendships can be complicated during the best of circumstances. In these current stressful times, relationships can feel like they’ve gotten even more complicated. Even if you find yourself arguing with your bestie over whether it’s okay to meet up for a six-feet-apart chat or wishing you could have some social distancing from your roommate, the complicated female friendships found in these books will definitely put your own relationships into perspective.

We Are All Good People Here

We Are All Good People Here

by Susan Rebecca White

If the alchemy is right, the friendships we make in college and our early grown-up years can become lifelong. Spanning a thirty-year friendship between two exceptional, if opposite, women, this multigenerational saga by author Susan Rebecca White starts off in 1962. When daring Eve and practical Daniella are paired as roommates, they become fast friends, despite their differences in personality. However, after many years apart, the two women come back together—only to have Eve’s secrets come back with her. This book tests the bonds of friendship and asks the question “What secrets would you keep for your friends?”

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Mrs. Everything

Mrs. Everything

by Jennifer Weiner

Female relationships can be complicated no matter the circumstances, but being related adds an extra layer. In Mrs. Everything, Jennifer Weiner follows the decades-long relationship between two sisters, Jo and Bethie. Jo sits on the sidelines and conforms to society’s standards as Bethie becomes the non-conformist—diving into the rapidly changing culture from the 1950s to the 2010s. While both sisters struggle with the role they want to play in the world, they alternate between relying on and competing with each other in this often heart-wrenching look at what it means to be a woman.

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Grown Ups

Grown Ups

by Emma Jane Unsworth

Grown Ups, coming out this August, takes a very modern look at modern friendship. Perfectly fitting for our digital age, it’s told through social media messages, texts, and other communications of the twenty-first century. The story follows millennial Jenny McLaine as she navigates adulthood—which we all know can be terrifying and relentless. In an increasingly filtered and curated life, it’s sometimes hard to tell what’s real and to negotiate all the information thrown at you—especially for Jenny who’s in the midst of a breakup/breakdown. Author Emma Jane Unsworth takes a look at whether being independent really means having to stand on your own.

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The Last House Guest

The Last House Guest

by Megan Miranda

The dynamic between locals and summer visitors is always a difficult one to balance. In Megan Miranda’s The Last House Guest, the friendship between two girls may tear the town of Littleport, Maine, apart. For almost ten years, visitor Sadie and local Avery had a deep friendship and each summer, the two were inseparable—until Sadie dies by an apparent suicide. Despite the evidence, the people of the town and the regular town visitors are ready to blame Avery. This book will feel familiar in many ways to fans of the TV show Veronica Mars, with just as many twists, as one girl looks for the truth about her friend’s death.

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Pretty Little Liars

Pretty Little Liars

by Sara Shepard

If you’ve watched the TV show, you know the dynamic between Spencer, Hanna, Aria, Emily, and Alison has always edged more toward mean girl and her victims than a group of tight-knit friends. The complexity of this relationship is highlighted even further after Alison goes missing and the remaining girls are left to pick up the pieces—but each girl has a secret they’d rather no one, especially each other, find out about.

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Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty

Much like the protagonists of Pretty Little Liars, the women of Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies all have secrets—some from each other, and most definitely many secrets kept from the nosey and judgmental parents of Pirriwee Public School. Jane is the new parent, and while she may be younger than most mothers at the school, she’s not totally blind to the manipulations and lies she’s greeted by. From affairs to murder, Jane and her fellow mom-friends will have to make the decision of what lies are worth keeping.

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Emma

Emma

by Jane Austen

If you’re lucky, you were able to see the newest adaptation of Emma before we all had to stop going to movie theaters, but now you have plenty of time to revisit the original text…and see for yourself how bad of a friend Emma is. While she is well-intentioned with her manipulations, Emma’s acts of “kindness” and matchmaking have a tendency not only to backfire on her, but on those she’s allegedly helping. While Jane Austen wrote Emma more than 200 years ago, the complexities of dealing with a mostly well-meaning (if sometimes hurtful) friend can apply in a modern context too (much like we see in the classic 90s film Clueless).

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By day, Jennifer Proffitt works in marketing for a non-profit in Brooklyn. By night, she spends her free time writing and reading romance novels and talking about pop culture. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her cat, whom she likes more than most people.