Friends Natalie and Leah couldn’t be more different. While both grew up in Northwest London in public housing, the adult women lead deviating lives that are odds with each other. Natalie is a dedicated and shrewd corporate lawyer with a wealthy husband, two kids, and a big house, while eccentric Leah works for a nonprofit organization and is married to a French-African hairdresser. This 21st century novel shows a vibrant, multicultural world that will make you question whether friendships can survive the complexities of human life, such as need, desire, class, and racial divides.
Saturday Night Widows
When she becomes a widow at an all-too-young age, journalist Becky Aikman finds she’s failing the Five Stages of Grief and doesn’t fit in with the other widows at the local support group at the Y. So, she creates her own group, bringing together five other widows, each seeking a way back to life out of grief. Aikman’s memoir charts the incredible journey these women make together (even as far as the Galapagos!) and shows that friendship can be a salve for the deepest pain.
Memoirs of a Geisha
After Chiyo’s mother passes away, her fisherman father sells her and her sister into slavery in 1929. Under the guidance (and blossoming friendship) of the renowned Mameha, Chiyo becomes Sayuri, a beautiful geisha, renowned for entertaining men. Mameha dubs Chiyo “her little sister,” teaching her about the importance of kindness and generosity. This novel shows that even under the cruelest conditions, friendships between women can shape identity.
Nel and Sula are childhood best friends who follow different paths as young women, but reunite as adults. Nel is content in her life’s choices—she’s a wife and mother and remained in their Ohio hometown, while Sula left to attend college, break hearts, and soak up life in the city. When the two meet again as women, it is clear that, though Sula’s path is unconventional, nothing can shake the unbreakable bonds of friendship between the two.
I Take You
Lily Wilder is all but headed down the aisle: she’s got a smart, handsome fiancé, Will, who adores her, and a wedding date that’s marching ever closer. But only her best friend, Freddy, knows how self-destructive Lily is acting—dabbling in drugs and sleeping with men who aren’t her fiancé. When it looks like Lily’s bad behavior is about to catch up with her, she reveals her deepest secret to Freddy, who tells her “I’m always on your side,” proving that friendship is the best life-raft out there.
The Best of Everything
Published in 1958, Rona Jaffe’s fictitious account of five young employees of a New York publishing company perfectly captures many of the same personal and professional struggles women still battle today. Driven Caroline dreams of a life beyond the typing pool, while wide-eyed April loses her small-town innocence and reinvents herself, and laid-back Gregg secretly yearns for the stability found in domestic life. Through it all, the women rely on their friendships with one another for strength and wisdom. Read this character-based story for everything that has changed—and hasn’t—in the nearly 60 years since it debuted.
Bestselling author and all-around real-life heroine, Mindy Kaling (check out her latest book of brilliance, Why Not Me?) said it best: “Best friend isn’t a person—it’s a tier.” She gets that when it comes to friendships between women, more is totally merrier. Admittedly, these relationships can contain a rollercoaster of emotions: they’re filled with laughter, joy, and sometimes anger and sadness, but through the years, these friendships sustain, nourish, and nurture us, helping us to become the women we are today. Here at Read It Forward, we completely agree with the power of friends, so we’ve curated six must-read books that feature the most fascinating female friendships around. These characters’ camaraderie with the significant women in their lives will leave you speechless. Read them, and share them with your friends!
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