Thank you, Parks and Rec, for giving us the concept of Galentine’s Day. In case you don’t know, “Galentine’s Day” is featured in the show by main character Leslie Knope, and it’s the day to celebrate all wonderful women on February 13th. In my opinion, much better than Valentine’s Day, and since Galentine’s Day is today, I rounded up some of my favorite books I would totally give to all the wonderful women in my life.
Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer
Smart Girls Get What They Want is one of my FAVORITE YA contemporaries. It has everything I love: smart girls(yes, the title is accurate), a great spin on your usual YA romance, supportive friendships, and character development. Main character Gigi has a bit of “not-like-other-girls” syndrome going on in the beginning, but part of her character development is realizing there’s nothing wrong with other girls who don’t have the same academic interests that she does, and the growth is well-written and wonderful.
The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
Emery Lord always writes excellent friendships, but the highlight of her work so far in this regard is The Start of Me and You. Main character Paige has a great group of friends, which can be rare in YA(but I’ve noticed more and more friend groups, which is great!). Also, bonus for Quiz Bowl.
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
This Adventure Ends is focused on friendship in general, but the catalyst for that is the friendship between main character Sloane and new friend Vera. Plus, there’s a fanfiction-writing author dad, which I didn’t realize until reading this book that more YA contemporary needs.
Tumbling by Caela Carter
I’ve been talking Tumbling up for the better half of a year now, because it’s vastly underrated. It follows five young women at the U.S. Olympics gymnastic trials. It’s a great inclusion for this list because it deals with both rivalry, support, and friendship, which can be a hard line to walk (and depict) in a book focused on professional athletes. All five characters get their own distinct POV and by the end you’ll root for all of them to get what they want (which isn’t always the same thing, even if it may seem so at the outset).
Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler
I love Just Visiting for its complex look at friendship at a time most YA’s skip over: the latter half of senior year, where people are making college decisions and know their entire lives are about to change but haven’t yet. Despite the serious topics, all of which are handled deftly, the friendship between Reagan and Victoria is so real, complex, and heart-warming.
Cherry by Lindsey Rosin
A surprising read from last year, Cherry promises to be about sexuality (and it is, and it’s handled wonderfully), but at the heart is the great friendship between the four main characters as they figure out both themselves and what they want from relationships and life.
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
It feels right to include Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants right after Cherry, because in many ways Cherry reminds me of a slightly more mature Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I think if you like one, you’ll like the other. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is quite old in YA years–since it was YA from the time I was a teen–but I think it’s stood the test of time well, and is always worth a read.
Wildlife is an excellent read for a look at friendship, because it shows all sorts of platonic relationships, including the good and the bad. There’s a friendship that has obviously run its course (and the characters have to come to terms with that, and what it means), as well as an unlikely friendship after grief and loss.
Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World edited by Kelly Jensen
In my review, I said that Here We Are is a “celebration”, and I stand by that. If you need an uplifting book about feminism? This one’s your best bet.
Wonder Women by Sam Maggs
I’m halfway through Wonder Women right now, and it’s a good, quick read that highlights many of the under-featured women of history.
Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
I feel like Roxanne Gay’s book should speak for itself. I read it last year (via audiobook), and it’s just as fantastic as you’ve heard. Somehow, Gay manages to tackle issues like privilege, feminism, and likeability in empathetic, yet still no-nonsense ways.
There’s no way this list would be complete without Lumberjanes! This fun comic has it all–excellent female friendships, a delightful burgeoning middle-grade relationship, and a lot of supernatural fun(and danger). It’s silly and wonderful.
It’s no surprise that both of the comics on this list are published by Boom! Box, which publishes the best comics for children and teens. I have yet to read a comic from Boom! Box that I don’t absolutely adore, but Giant Days is my favorite comic EVER. It’s a slice-of-life comic that follows three women in university who quickly become friends despite being three very different people. It’s hilarious and heart-warming and full of friendship, and it never fails to make me giddy.