It was Leslie Knope who said it best: "What's Galentine's Day? Oh, it's only the best day of the year! Leslie would be thrilled to know how many IRL women celebrate their best friends every February 13. With the "holiday" coming up, it got us thinking about the books that depict some of our favorite strong female friendships in books. These are the friendships that have stuck with us from middle school to high school and beyond, and the ones we read only a few years ago that have become forever favorites.
These are the fictional girls and women who have shaped our own thoughts on what it means to make a lifelong connection with another woman or group of women, something that has become a benchmark in so many of our lives. The importance of seeing women supporting other women, celebrating other women, loving other women as a pre-teen, teenager and even as an adult cannot be overstated. If reading fiction teaches us empathy, surely reading fictional female friendships has taught us that the sisterhood should be a real, vibrant, and meaningful aspect of our lives. Below are some of our favorite female friendships in young adult books: some silly, some serious, some life-changing.
1Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Stacy & Dawn from 'The Baby-Sitter's Club' by Ann M. Martin
These five girls are like the OG's of young adult best friends. Ann M. Martin's beloved series for preteen girls gave birth to five of the most enduring best friends in YA. These girls were as different as they were devoted to one another. Headstrong Kristy, Shy Mary Anne, Creative Claudia, Cool Stacy and Earthy Dawn were together through the good times (seriously, we still kind of want to open our own babysitting service, it seemed that fun) and the bad times (Claudia's grandmother's death, Stacy's diabetic illness, Kristy's mother's remarriage), and never gave up on each other through it all.
2Mia Thermopolis and Lilly Moscovitz from 'The Princess Diaries' by Meg Cabot
Similarly, Mia and Lilly were some of our first favorite YA besties. Of course, Mia suddenly becoming a princess and revealing a crush on Lilly's older brother caused some bumps in the road of their friendship. And Lilly's overbearing personality might have also meant some serious friction throughout the years. But their friendship always meant more in the end than any news scandal, mean girl or break-up; and even high school was no match for these two. If Meg Cabot's adult installment in the series is any indication, Mia and Lilly have remained completely connected into their adult years.
3Anne Shirley and Diana Barry from 'Anne of Green Gables' by L.M. Montgomery
This classic YA series also has a classic YA friendship: that of kindred spirits and bosom friends, Anne Shirley and Diana Barry. When Anne arrived at Green Gables she had never had a real family, let alone a true friend. But all of that changed the moment she was introduced to Diana at a church picnic. After that they were inseparable, from disastrous dramatic readings in a certain capsizing boat, to wandering through a haunted forest and getting accidentally drunk on raspberry cordial, Anne and Diana had the idyllic rural friendship. Even as they grew older, got married and had children, their friendship remained one of the most enduring aspects of Anne Shirley's life and of ours, too.
4Cath and Reagan from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Our favorite unconventional besties, roommates Cath and Reagan do not have what we would call a typical friendship. While Reagan is brash, bold and experienced, Cath is shy, nervous and totally unexperienced. And although Reagan takes pity on Cath one evening and drags her down to the dining hall, their friendship develops into so much more than that. Reagan is there to support Cath through her dramatic first year of college, and even Cath falling for Reagan's ex-boyfriend Levi is not enough to end their friendship. In fact, Reagan's insistence on allowing Cath and Levi to be happy together despite her initial discomfort is one of the most mature relationship decisions we've ever seen in YA, and is definitely to be emulated in real life.
5Cinder and Iko from 'The Lunar Chronicles' by Marissa Meyer
We could not love this friendship anymore if we tried. Cyborg Cinder and Android Iko are one of the most iconic duos in recent YA. While they both have a rough life serving Cinder's wicked stepmother, their friendship has a ton of levity. Iko's sense of humor is uplifting and her obsession with pop culture and soap opera's is endearing and hilarious. Cinder's love for and connection to Iko (it was Cinder who dusted off and fixed the Android up and made her into a kick-ass, war-fighting sidekick) is beyond sweet. If you're looking for an uplifting, hopeful duo existing even in an unspeakably harsh world, look no further.
6Carmen, Tibby, Lena and Bridget from 'The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants' by Ann Brashares
Back to one of our old-school teen favorites. We just couldn't make a list of the best YA gal pals without including the sisterhood. These four friends from before birth have one of the strongest connections we've seen in any book. Their friendship is so strong, in fact, that they can't imagine spending even one summer apart, relying on semi-magical thrift store jeans to get them through it. Their reliance on each other sees them through the hardest summer of their lives (sickness, divorce, anxiety) but it also allows them to learn to be bold and brave on their own. Just thinking about magical summers spent reading about Carmen, Lean, Tibby and Bridget is giving us the tingly friendship feels.
7Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood from 'The Harry Potter Series' by J.K. Rowling
Unless you've read the Harry Potter books 1800 times (which we totally haven't...ahem) you might have missed the special friendship between Ginny and Luna, but it is definitely one of our all-time favorites. From the moment Luna appears in the series in Book 5, Ginny was there to defend Luna's eccentricities. And as the books go on and the battle against Voldemort becomes more and more intense, Ginny and Luna continue to battle side by side through it all. In fact, we still find ourselves wishing for more of these secondary characters every time we dip back into the world of the books. Thank goodness for fan fiction, are we right?
8Nina and Inej from 'Six of Crows' by Leigh Bardugo
One of our most recent favorites, the friendship between Nina and Inej is the most tender and heartfelt of all the seemingly dubious connections in the world of The Dregs. Coming off of many harrowing years as sex workers after being taken from their homelands, Nina and Inej understand each other in a way that no one else can. But more than that, they fiercely protect each other, truly care about the other's well-being, and more than anything want to see each other happy and healthy in a world where they have to fight for those simple comforts. Who can help but fall in love with this fierce warrior female friendship?
9Vivian Apple and Harpreet Janda from 'Vivian Apple At The End Of The World' by Katie Coyle
An underrated pick to be sure, but if you have not acquainted yourself with these weird, wonderful revolutionary women, you need to pick up Katie Coyle's duology ASAP. After a religious zealot takes over the United States and people's family members (including both Vivian and Harpreet's parents) have seemingly been raptured, bringing on the end of the world, these two best friends head out into the wasteland of the country to figure out what's really going on. They fight against bands of religious cults, start an underground online resistance and just basically kick some major ass, dystopian style. If you're looking for some best friends who can inspire your own passion for fighting the powers that be, Viv and Harp have got your back.