Eleanor & Park
Atmospherically set in 1986, this YA read explores the power of that first great love—whether it’s whisked away, or lasts for a lifetime. When Eleanor meets Park, they’re both misfits, and as they gravitate toward each other, you’ll be pulled back to your first friendships, and everything that followed.
A Thousand Splendid Suns Illustrated Edition
In the midst of war-ravaged Kabul, Laila and Mariam’s friendship proves a constant force of nurturing, support, and survival. Though they’re a generation apart in age, the women’s unlikely bond sustains them, and lights the way for those who come after.
Anne of Green Gables
L. M. Montgomery
Spirited and willful, Anne Shirley is the ultimate best friend. Sent to live on Prince Edward Island with Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, the winsome orphan makes her way both on and off their farm, her bright outlook reminding us of the benefits boundless guile can bring.
Kayla Rae Whitaker
The friendship between two animators, the quiet-yet-ambitious Sharon and talkatively brash Mel, proves a force for both, propelling them to the edge of indie greatness as they release provocative work based on Mel’s tumultuous childhood. Rife with humor and trauma, this novel’s vibrant and powerful.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
As the new owner of an abandoned Seattle hotel sifts through a shocking trove left behind—the belongings of Japanese families sent to internment camps—Henry Lee, an elder passerby, is drawn into his own reminiscences, leading him to a long-ago friend, Keiko, and the promises they made.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Movie Tie-In Edition)
Mary Ann Shaffer
Juliet finds herself emerging from the depths of London’s wartime tension in search of her next book subject. Drawn by a letter writing exchange to the remote island of Guernsey, the people and friendships she encounters there—first remote, then in real life—will change her forever.
The Secret Life of Bees
Sue Monk Kidd
Escaping corrosive and hateful racism in 1960s South Carolina, Lily and Rosaleen find a perch with a close knit group of African-American beekeeping sisters. Inspiringly written and veined by incredibly potent sisterhood, it’s a book like no other.
The Sun Is Also a Star Movie Tie-in Edition
When science-minded Natasha meets strait-laced Daniel, the sparks amazingly fly between them. Neither snuffed out by the looming deportation of Natasha’s family to Jamaica, nor the rigid expectations of Daniel’s parents, their blossoming friendship—and perhaps more—shows that only the universe is truly in control.
Just ask Christopher Robin and Pooh—friendship shows us the best in each other! These fourteen selections showcase some of the endurance, love, and maddening moments that only true friendship provides. From Southern steadfast women to friends surviving wartimes, this eclectic bookshelf, recommended by RIF readers, might introduce you to a few new literary friends, or reacquaint you with some of your time-tested favorites. Whether you read alone or with a friend, they’re sure to make you and your besties happy to have each other.
Featured illustration: Kate Gavino