Hello! Welcome to “Lacey Recommends,” a monthly column updating you on some of the latest and greatest books being published for girls. Last month, my post focused on books about love. This month, we’re going to look at books about family and friends for girls. Family and friends is the theme of the March/April issue of New Moon Girls magazine, too, so make sure to take a look and to read our featured magazine book review, The Finding Place by Julie Hartley.
A lot has changed for girls throughout history, but one thing has stayed the same: the importance of our relationships with our family and friends. That’s why this month’s selections take place today, yesterday, and far away — with some added fun for you and your friends to have in real life, too!
Today – Friends and Family in the World Around Us
Do you like to read books about girls who live in the same kind of world as you do? The following books feature girls whose friendships and families might look a lot like your own, or someone you know.
- Elana K. Arnold explores friendship in her book, The Question of Miracles, in which Iris tries to recover after her best friend dies. When she meets an awkward, know-it-all boy, making new friends isn’t on her mind. But when she discovers that his existence is a medical miracle, she starts to wonder if a miracle would let her somehow communicate with her best friend again. Elana’s newest book, Far From Fair, focuses on family, as Odette travels across the country with her parents and brother in a cramped RV to stay with her grandmother, who she finds out is dying. How do you deal when you have to face the loss of a family member or someone else you love?
- In K.L. Going’s book, Pieces of Why, Tia struggles to understand why her dad went to prison years ago, prompting her to ask hard questions in her community as she searches for answers about him.
- If you prefer lighter reading, check out Lisa Lewis Tyre’s Last in a Long Line of Rebels, where Lou and her best friend spend the summer looking for gold her great, great grandfather stole during the Civil War. This leads her straight to her grandmother, who helps her uncover the past.
- Friendships change a lot as you grow up, which can be confusing. To “get real” about which friendships to hold onto and which to let go, check out Friends and Frenemies: The Good, the Bad, and the Awkward by Jennifer Castle and Deborah Reber.
Yesterday – Friends and Family Throughout History
If you love a good historical read, you’re in luck! Try one of these books to see how friend and family relationships were the same and different many years ago.
- Tru and Nelle by G. Neri is a historical fiction novel based on the real-life friendship of writers Harper Lee (Nell) and Truman Capote (Tru). In this imagined adventure, Tru and Nelle strengthen their friendship over one summer chasing down the mystery of who broke into the town drugstore — a search that could lead them right into danger. Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, just passed away last month. If you’re looking for a way to honor her memory, check out this book.
- When Mischief Came to Town by Katrina Nannestad takes place in 1911 Denmark. In it, Inga has just lost her mother and goes to live with her strict grandmother. Inga’s grandmother’s belief that children “should be seen and not heard” makes adjustment hard for the free-spirited Inga, but as the summer unfolds she learns how to create a new family in her new home.
- In Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg, Terpsichore and her family leave their Wisconsin home to become pioneers in Alaska in 1934, part of President Roosevelt’s plan to beat the depression. Terpsichore loves her new adventure — it makes her feel like she is living in a real-life “Little House on the Prairie” book — but her mother is having a hard time adjusting to life in a tent village. Terpsichore sets out to convince her mother that Alaska can be the right place for the family to call “home.”
- If you like World War II stories, check out the Newbery Honor Winning The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Ada, whose mother has always mistreated her because of her misshapen foot, sneaks out to follow her brother after he is sent to London to escape the war. When Susan Smith takes both kids in, they learn to ride ponies and read, all while watching for German spies and hoping the war won’t tear their new family apart. Shawn K. Stout’s World War II novel, A Tiny Piece of Sky, will take you to the United States in 1939, where Frankie doesn’t care much about the war happening in Europe until people begin accusing her father of being a German spy. Frankie must uncover the truth in this book that is based on events the author’s real-life grandparents lived through.
Far Away – Friends and Family in Fantasy
Books can take you to places that are completely imaginary, with family and friend relationships that still feel as real as life. If you like books that can take you “far far away,” check out these reads.
- In The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey, Princess Jeniah and peasant girl Aon strike up a friendship as they try to discover the secret of a desolate bog. When Aon disappears, Jeniah must venture into the bog to find her — even though a prophecy says that “If any monarch enters Dreadwillow Carse, then the Monarchy will fall.”
- Heather Mackley’s Dreamwood opens with Lucy deciding to run away from boarding school in search of her father, who has been away too long doing research in a remote forest. With her friend, Pete, Lucy must follow her father’s trail in hope of finding him, and perhaps saving the forest.
- The first book in Lin Oliver’s Fantastic Frame series features friends Pete and Luna (love the name!), who get sucked into a new world through a magic picture frame. Now they are being chased by tigers, trying to find their way back to the world they left. This book includes fun illustrations that get more detailed as the story goes on. The book comes out next month (April 2016)
If you’re tired of reading about friends and want to have some fun with your friends in real life, you can find ideas for great parties in three books from Capstone Press. Accessory Parties includes recipes for cookies and drinks, tips for cleaning before the party and dealing with things that go wrong on the big day, and more. Game Night Parties features ideas for outdoor movie showings, snack recipes, game themes, and more. And if you and your friends like to pamper yourselves, check out Pampering Parties, where you’ll find ideas for making your own soap and nail polish as well as the perfect snacks and drinks. Grab a few friends, set a date, and have fun!
And now it’s YOUR turn. What are your favorite books featuring friendship and family stories? Have you read any of the books listed above? Leave a comment below to let me know!
Lacey Louwagie is an adult writer and editor who got her first editing job with New Moon Girls in 2002. She is currently a reporter for a legal news organization, which means she reads a lot of lawsuits! She has also been a teen services librarian and coordinates book-related goodies for New Moon Girls. She is the author of “Rumpled,” a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin for ages 14 and up, and the co-editor of “Hungering & Thirsting for Justice: True Stories from Young Adult Catholics.”