A Discussion on Friendships

J.L. Weinmeister

Today I’m doing and informal discussion on friendships. I highly recommend you watch my YouTube video of this. I think it’s a more enjoyable experience, but you can read a cleaned-up version of the closed captions here if you’d prefer.

I’m sharing some of my favorite book friendships, some friendships I don’t like, and types of friendships I want to see more of.

We’re going to start with the things I like seeing in friendships and some examples because I like to start on a positive note. I like friends who are supportive and are willing to sacrifice themselves and their safety for each other. I like friends who are fun together, and I like unlikely friendships.

Since I’ve been talking about The Lord of the Rings a lot lately, I’m going to start with those friendships. The first one that comes to mind is the friendship between the four hobbits, and that’s one where I feel like the hobbits are really supportive of each other. They’re willing to sacrifice their safety for each other because Merry and Pippin put themselves in harm’s way, so Frodo can escape. Then Sam is a loyal friend to Frodo and is supportive of him the whole way, and I really like the dynamic of those four together in that story. The other friendship I really like is one of those unlikely friendships, and it’s between Gimli and Legolas. It’s also an example of a humorous friendship, especially when they do their death count competitions during battles. I really love seeing that banter between the two. Both of those friendships make The Lord of the Rings enjoyable to read, and I can’t imagine that story without those friendships.

Another series that has a ton of awesome friendships is Harry Potter. I like the main trio: Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Their dynamic is a little weird at first because Ron isn’t very nice to Hermione, and I don’t like the way their friendship starts. It seems rather sudden to me; but once it’s established, I really like their dynamic. Those three always stick together. They’re always supportive of each other even if Ron and Hermione get at each other a little bit, especially in The Half-Blood Prince. I also like their dynamic when they add the three new friends once they have Dumbledore’s Army in The Order of the Phoenix, and those three friends are Ginny, Luna, and Neville. I like their dynamic together, as well, and I really like that Neville becomes one of their good friends because Neville needs some friends.

Another friendship from Harry Potter I really like is Harry and Dobby. It’s another unlikely friendship, and it’s such a sweet friendship. I like that Harry and Dobby become friends, especially after Dobby tries so hard to protect Harry in The Chamber of Secrets. I also really like the Marauders. We don’t get to see that friendship a whole lot, but you can tell they had a really awesome dynamic when they were at Hogwarts. Then another friendship I like is the friendship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. It’s not necessarily a good friendship, but it’s one of those unlikely friendships. I like how it heavily influenced Dumbledore in his youth.

The next friendship I like is from Fablehaven by Brandon Mull. I like the friendship between Seth and the two satyrs, Newel and Doren. That’s a really fun friendship that sticks through the whole series, and I really like their dynamic together. The satyrs are really funny, so they’re fun to have around.

Another one is in Beyonders by Brandon Mull, and that one is another unlikely friendship. It’s the friendship between Jason and Ferrin. I don’t want to get into spoilers, but Ferrin has a complicated character arc. I’ll go into those spoilers when I talk about Beyonders in depth later—I think I have it scheduled right after Harry Potter. Anyway, I think that friendship adds to the story. Jason wouldn’t have been able to accomplish a lot of the things he did without Ferrin’s helps, so I really like them together.

Another unlikely friendship is in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. This is kind of a spoiler, so if you don’t want to be spoiled for Fangirl, skip this paragraph. The friendship is that of Cath and her roommate Reagan. At first Cath’s not really sure about Reagan because she’s very different from her. I really like how they grow together as friends over the course of the book.

The last one I’m going to talk about is from the Michael Vey series, and that’s Michael and Ostin’s friendship. They’re really good friends who are willing to do anything for each other. Basically all the kids in that story are willing to do whatever it takes to take care of each other, and they work together really well. I love how they’re a really big team because there’s a lot of characters in that series.

Those are some of my favorite friendships and my favorite things to see in friendships. Let me know what your favorites are and if you agree or disagree with the examples I chose. Now I’m going to give a couple examples of friendships I don’t like, and then I’ll go into what I would like to see less of and more of regarding friendships in books.

One friendship I’m not a fan of is in The Hunger Games. This will get into spoilers for the later books, so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to be spoiled. The friendship I don’t like is between Katniss and Gale. I like it at the start. They’re really good friends at the beginning; but as the trilogy progress, I don’t like what happens to their friendship. I think Katniss is too hard on Gale. Gale’s just trying to help Katniss and everyone else who’s involved in the story’s conflicts, and Katniss pushes him away. I think it developed really poorly, and I wish they had stayed friends.

Then there’s Shadow and Bone. This is also a spoiler for later books, so skip this paragraph if you don’t want to be spoiled. The friendship between Alina and Mal is problematic. If you’ve read the whole trilogy, you know it’s more complicated than a friendship; but it starts out as just a friendship, so that’s what I’m going to call it. They’re friendship is really toxic. At first, when they’re kids, it’s fine; but once they’re older, during the events of the story, Mal becomes such a toxic guy. I really don’t know why Alina stays with him. What I really don’t like about Mal is he’s always saying, “I want the Alina you were before. I don’t like the Alina you are now.” I don’t think that’s healthy at all. If Mal were truly Alina’s friend, he would not be asking her to change for him. The changes that happened to her are good. She feels better. She’s more confident in herself. He’s not okay with those changes, and he voices it to her; and I don’t think that’s appropriate. I really don’t like where that friendship goes. There are other characters who are so much nicer to Alina, and yet her mind is always focused on Mal, so that’s irritating. It’s very irritating. Mal needs to accept Alina for who she is.

One thing I would like to see less of in friendships is toxic and abusive friendships, particularly in cases—like Shadow and Bone—when they’re portrayed as a positive thing, and there’s no one there saying, “Hey, this friendship is not okay. There’s toxicity. There’s abuse. There’s a problem with it.” I’m okay with there being toxic and abusive friendships as long as there’s something there that points out there’s something wrong with this friendship. Otherwise people will read it and get the impression that this friendship is okay.

One thing I would like to see more of in friendships is more friends in general. I feel like there are a lot of characters out there who don’t have friends. They need more friends. I know a lot of times friends get cut for word count reasons because each time you add a new character, you add more words to your story. I don’t really think it’s a huge problem for middle grade or young adult; but once you get into adult books, I feel like a lot of the characters just don’t really have friends, and they should.

Some other friendships I would like to see more of are more female-male friendships. I think a lot of times when you have two characters of different sexes, they end up as a romantic interest instead of as a friend; and I would like to see more characters that don’t have any romance between them. I think this is really common for rom-com movies, especially ones regarding high school girls. Usually their best friend is a guy, and I really like that there’s no romance between them. No one even considers the possibility of this friend being a romantic interest; and I really want to see that more in books where the best friend is a guy, and there’s never any romantic tension between them.

One of the other things I would like to see more of is female-female friendships. I feel like most of the friendships I see and like are male-male; or it’s more than two characters, and then it’s a mix of sexes. I would like to see more positive female-female relationships. I think a lot of girls feel like other women are competition and that female-female relationships can’t be healthy, and that’s really not the case. I think portraying that in books would allow young girls and women to see that they really can get along and have really rewarding friendships. I know some women don’t have a problem with this, but I feel like others do. I think it would be helpful to have more representation of healthy female-female relationships, that way people can see they’re a thing that’s possible.

Anyway, I want to hear your thoughts on friendships. Let me know what you like to see in friendships and what you don’t like to see. Also, let me know who your favorite friends are in books, and let me know if you agree or disagree with any of the examples I showed. I love hearing your guys’ thoughts, so make sure to share in the comments.

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