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Teen Friendship: It’s Complicated, a guest post by Kit Frick

Photo credit: Simon Maage on Unsplash

When I was a teen, I clung tight to my small, close-knit friend group. I liked to describe the sandstone walls that surrounded us as “Abercrombie and Fitch High School,” and by nature and by nurture, I did not fit in with the mainstream aesthetic. Social interactions with anyone outside of my little group of misfits made my anxiety spike big time. It didn’t matter how kind or thoughtful the other person was being; I was convinced that niceness was a trap. I lived with the pervasive fear that anyone and everyone was judging me. Sometimes, they probably were. Most of the time, I was my own harshest critic.

I was a few weeks into my life on a residential college campus in New York when a worldview-shattering realization hit: I had spent the last few weeks talking to strangers, sometimes strangers with backgrounds and experiences very different from my own, and the world had not ended. Quite the opposite—I was building an expansive, life-affirming network of new friends. I was newly nineteen, and for the first time, I wasn’t consumed by social anxiety.

I’m known for writing YA thrillers, but my books are also about complicated female friendships. I put my characters through a lot, but in a way, they’re lucky: they learn to foster important peer relationships outside of their comfort zones earlier than I did, and thank goodness for that, because these friendships are key to these teen girls’ ability to save themselves from the perilous situations I’ve written them into.

Amanda and Rosalie, the co-protagonists in All Eyes on Us, begin the novel at serious odds. These two girls from opposite sides of Logansville, West Virginia have pretty much nothing in common aside from the intense, harmful pressure they’re being subjected to by their families and communities. Pressure that has driven both of them into staying in unhealthy relationships with real estate heir and town golden boy, Carter Shaw.

When Rosalie and Amanda are targeted by an anonymous harasser out to get Carter and take the girls down with him, they come together to end their stalker’s reign of terror. I have to give it to Rosalie especially; Amanda hates her when the book begins, and Rosalie knows it. Amanda’s only seeing a small sliver of the truth, but Rosalie’s actions, while justified by the physical and emotional necessity to shield herself from the conversion “therapy” she’s already been subjected to as a younger teen, are nonetheless hurting Amanda. And if I were Rosalie as a teen, I don’t think I would have allowed myself to trust Amanda’s olive branch when it comes. I probably would have run for the hills, and without the uneasy alliance the girls form, who knows where they would have ended up. (Nowhere good!)

I Killed Zoe Spanos also explores an unlikely friendship between two teen girls—this time bonded by a search for truth and justice. When local teen Zoe Spanos goes missing, Anna Cicconi confesses to playing a role in her death and the concealment of her body, but her story is riddled with holes, and teen true crime podcaster Martina Green is determined to uncover the truth and get justice for Zoe’s family. Here’s the thing, though: Martina isn’t convinced of Anna’s innocence, just that Anna couldn’t have killed Zoe in the way she described to police. Either the wrong girl is in juvie awaiting trial, or what Anna did is a lot worse than the accident she confessed to. Throughout the course of the novel, Martina puts her friendship with Zoe’s younger sister Aster in jeopardy in her quest for the truth, and Anna allows herself to trust Martina, despite the reality that Martina’s not necessarily out to exonerate her. It’s a lot. Way more than I would have been capable of dealing with as a teen, where the most explosive fall-out in my friend group involved a punk rock hoodie. Don’t ask.

Photo credit: Simon Maage on Unsplash

As a writer of YA thrillers, it’s important to me to not just write girls into peril, but to also allow them to fight their way out of danger. Often that involves high-stakes relationship building, and I think that has a lot to do with my own adolescent experiences as a very timid relationship-builder. I would not have fared well in one of my own books, okay? Don’t drop Teen Kit in a thriller; it’s going to end badly. But fiction allows us to explore our shortcomings as well as our successes. And important teen topics shouldn’t be limited to realistic YA contemporary. Genre fiction allows us to write about issues important to real teens—such as complex female friendships—against the backdrop of thrills, chills, and twisty mysteries. Thrillers can be both an escape and a space for social engagement. This capacity to “walk and chew gum” is part of what makes engaging with the genre so exciting to me as a creator writing for a teen audience.

Meet Kit Frick

Photo credit: Carly Gaebe, Steadfast Studio

Kit Frick is a novelist, poet, and MacDowell Colony fellow from Pittsburgh, PA. She studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and received her MFA from Syracuse University. When she isn’t putting complicated characters in impossible situations, Kit edits poetry and literary fiction for a small press and edits for private clients. She is the author of the young adult thrillers I Killed Zoe SpanosAll Eyes on Us, and See All the Stars, all from Simon & Schuster / Margaret K. McElderry Books, as well as the poetry collection A Small Rising Up in the Lungs from New American Press. Kit is working on her next novel.

BUY LINKS:

Signed pre-orders from Riverstone books: https://riverstonebookstore.indielite.org/pre-order-signed-copies-kit-fricks-new-book

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/i-killed-zoe-spanos-kit-frick/1134080087

Bookshop.org: https://bookshop.org/books/i-killed-zoe-spanos/9781534449701

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781534449701

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1534449701/

SOCIAL:

Website: https://kitfrick.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kitfrick

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kitfrick/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kitfrickauthor/

About I Killed Zoe Spanos

For fans of Sadie and Serial, this gripping thriller follows two teens whose lives become inextricably linked when one confesses to murder and the other becomes determined to uncover the real truth no matter the cost.

What happened to Zoe won’t stay buried…

When Anna Cicconi arrives to the small Hamptons village of Herron Mills for a summer nanny gig, she has high hopes for a fresh start. What she finds instead is a community on edge after the disappearance of Zoe Spanos, a local girl who has been missing since New Year’s Eve. Anna bears an eerie resemblance to Zoe, and her mere presence in town stirs up still-raw feelings about the unsolved case. As Anna delves deeper into the mystery, stepping further and further into Zoe’s life, she becomes increasingly convinced that she and Zoe are connected—and that she knows what happened to her.

Two months later, Zoe’s body is found in a nearby lake, and Anna is charged with manslaughter. But Anna’s confession is riddled with holes, and Martina Green, teen host of the Missing Zoe podcast, isn’t satisfied. Did Anna really kill Zoe? And if not, can Martina’s podcast uncover the truth?

Inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, Kit Frick weaves a thrilling story of psychological suspense that twists and turns until the final page.

ISBN-13: 9781534449701
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication date: 06/30/2020
Age Range: 14 – 18 Years

YA A to Z: F is for Female Friendship

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I am very honored to be the “Second Mom” to The Teen’s best friend, who we call The Bestie here at TLT. I have known this girl since she was in the 3rd grade and I truly consider her to be a part of my family. When I travel, I text her and keep in touch with her just as I do the two girls that I have given birth to. I feel very blessed to have her as an honorary family member and I love seeing her friendship with my daughter. As someone who moved a lot – hello, military brat – I never really got to have the type of BFFs that you read about in books. I am so delighted to see my daughter have one of her own and am proud to see the women they are becoming separately and together. Because of all of this, one of the things I always notice when reading YA is the best friend quotient. I like to give them both books that highlight besties and realistically portray the ups and downs of female friendship. My hope is that it will help them to develop realistic expectations and remind them that even in the moments where their friendship is tried and tested, as all friendships are, that they will make the choice and do the work of maintaining and nurturing their friendship. I’ve posted some of my favorite female friendship books before, and you can read that post here, but I’ve read some new ones to add to the list so keep reading.

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The Teen and The Bestie

Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian

stay sweetPublisher’s Book Description

Summer in Sand Lake isn’t complete without a trip to Meade Creamery—the local ice cream stand founded in 1944 by Molly Meade who started making ice cream to cheer up her lovesick girlfriends while all the boys were away at war. Since then, the stand has been owned and managed exclusively by local girls, who inevitably become the best of friends. Seventeen-year-old Amelia and her best friend Cate have worked at the stand every summer for the past three years, and Amelia is “Head Girl” at the stand this summer. When Molly passes away before Amelia even has her first day in charge, Amelia isn’t sure that the stand can go on. That is, until Molly’s grandnephew Grady arrives and asks Amelia to stay on to help continue the business…but Grady’s got some changes in mind…

Karen’s Thoughts

This summer I had the honor of having The Teen volunteer with me at my library, which meant every day we drove back and forth from work together and listened to audio books. One of our favorites was Stay Sweet. I loved listening to this book with The Teen for a wide variety of reasons. It is no exaggeration when I tell you that we laughed and we cried together listening to this book. There are some very moving and emotional scenes and we balled. There may have been snottage.

One of my favorite things about this book was how much it emphasized the power and importance of female friendship. From the very beginning we step foot into this world where there is a strong emphasis put on empowering women and that stream of thought is never lost. Even when our main character’s friendship is put to the test and strained, as most friendships will be, the significance of and dedication to one another remains powerful.

As you may recall, The Teen and The Bestie often help me out a lot here at TLT and I take them to a lot of book events. When we finished this book I immediately thought, we need to make sure you both have a copy of this book to remind you of what being a best friend can look like as you make the transition from graduating high school. This goes right into both of their collections.

This book is moving, thoughtful, and a powerful story that reminds girls that they can learn, grow, be empowered and achieve their dreams. Sharing this book and this summer with The Teen will always have very deep and lasting meaning for me, and I hope The Bestie will love it as well.

Don't fear - The Teen isn't trying to kill The Bestie, they're just making a movie together

Don’t fear – The Teen isn’t trying to kill The Bestie, they’re just making a movie together

Sawkill Girls by Claire Legrand

sawkillgirls

Publisher’s Book Description:

Beware of the woods and the dark, dank deep.

He’ll follow you home, and he won’t let you sleep.

Who are the Sawkill Girls?

Marion: the new girl. Awkward and plain, steady and dependable. Weighed down by tragedy and hungry for love she’s sure she’ll never find.

Zoey: the pariah. Luckless and lonely, hurting but hiding it. Aching with grief and dreaming of vanished girls. Maybe she’s broken—or maybe everyone else is.

Val: the queen bee. Gorgeous and privileged, ruthless and regal. Words like silk and eyes like knives, a heart made of secrets and a mouth full of lies.

Their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock, where gleaming horses graze in rolling pastures and cold waves crash against black cliffs. Where kids whisper the legend of an insidious monster at parties and around campfires.

Where girls have been disappearing for decades, stolen away by a ravenous evil no one has dared to fight… until now.

Karen’s Thoughts:

This may in some ways be a weird book to include on a list like this. After all, it’s a dark paranormal mystery where a lot of girls die. It is also, however, the story of two girls who become friends and try to help each other solve the mystery of what it happening to the Sawkill Girls and how they can save themselves and each other from being the next one. This is a very compelling read with a lot of feminist undertones; it seriously makes some bold declarations about what it means to be a girl in this world. I think Sawkill Girls will be a phenomenal success when it comes out in October of this year.

The Teen and The Bestie looking at ARCs for an ARCParty here at TLT

The Teen and The Bestie looking at ARCs for an ARCParty here at TLT

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E K Johnston

exit-pursued

Publisher’s Book Description:

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of… she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

Karen’s Thoughts:

I love this book and it is one of my favorites because of the way the two best friends deal with the sexual assault of one half of their duo. Johnston describes this book as a fantasy because it is the way she wishes we handled sexual assault compared to the ways in which we do. When Hermione is assaulted her best friend stands by her and up for her and it is glorious. In your moments of darkest need, everyone needs a best friend like this.

The Bestie is a cheerleader and we try to watch her cheer as often as we can because she's part of the family and we support her always

The Bestie is a cheerleader and we try to watch her cheer as often as we can because she’s part of the family and we support her always

The Wicked Deep by Shea Earnshaw

wickeddeep

Publisher’s Book Description:

Welcome to the cursed town of Sparrow…

Where, two centuries ago, three sisters were sentenced to death for witchery. Stones were tied to their ankles and they were drowned in the deep waters surrounding the town.

Now, for a brief time each summer, the sisters return, stealing the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge, luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.

Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives; unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into.

Mistrust and lies spread quickly through the salty, rain-soaked streets. The townspeople turn against one another. Penny and Bo suspect each other of hiding secrets. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters.

But only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

Karen’s Thoughts:

This is one of the teens favorite books of this year. It’s another dark paranormal – what can I say, we have a type – that also has a strong friendship tucked inside the pages. Also, there are witches! Friendship, romance, witches and local legends make for a pretty enthralling read.

The Teen and The Bestie making a "classic" portrait at an art museum installation

The Teen and The Bestie making a “classic” portrait at an art museum installation

The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed

nowheregirls

Publisher’s Book Description

Three misfits come together to avenge the rape of a fellow classmate and in the process trigger a change in the misogynist culture at their high school transforming the lives of everyone around them in this searing and timely story.

Who are the Nowhere Girls?

They’re everygirl. But they start with just three:

Grace Salter is the new girl in town, whose family was run out of their former community after her southern Baptist preacher mom turned into a radical liberal after falling off a horse and bumping her head.

Rosina Suarez is the queer punk girl in a conservative Mexican immigrant family, who dreams of a life playing music instead of babysitting her gaggle of cousins and waitressing at her uncle’s restaurant.

Erin Delillo is obsessed with two things: marine biology and Star Trek: The Next Generation, but they aren’t enough to distract her from her suspicion that she may in fact be an android.

When Grace learns that Lucy Moynihan, the former occupant of her new home, was run out of town for having accused the popular guys at school of gang rape, she’s incensed that Lucy never had justice. For their own personal reasons, Rosina and Erin feel equally deeply about Lucy’s tragedy, so they form an anonymous group of girls at Prescott High to resist the sexist culture at their school, which includes boycotting sex of any kind with the male students.

Told in alternating perspectives, this groundbreaking novel is an indictment of rape culture and explores with bold honesty the deepest questions about teen girls and sexuality.

Karen’s Thoughts

This is another meaningful contemporary that explores themes of sexual assault and teenage sexuality while giving us some strong female friendships. Here, a group of girls come together and fight the system while exploring who they are and trying to stand up for what they think is right. It’s powerfully, hand down, pull no punches feminism and it rocks! Also, there are a lot of intersectional friendships that happen here and it’s great to have some strong female friendships that are intersectional.

bestie2

The Bestie came and supported The Teen as she participates in a national martial arts tournament. They are interested in very different things but support each other!

What YALit with a strong female friendship would you add to our list? Let us know in the comments below. The Teen and The Bestie may want to read them!