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From Hollywood to Your Bookshelf: It’s a Best Friend

Last July, Alexa and I teamed up in double posts about Hollywood stories that would make awesome YA books. We were so so excited about everyone’s responses, and have been anxious to serve up another Hollywood to Your Bookshelf post. Well, what’s better timing than Hollywood Week? That’s right — nothing!! (Refresh your memory: McGosling + Taylor Swift.)

Hollywood Week at Rather Be Reading Blog

Because I feel like we are friends, I can comfortably confess to you that I’ve been a little obsessed with Lea Michele lately. It’s a problem. Is it her perfect bangs? Her new album? (Which I downloaded Sunday night at midnight, and like a lot.) Or is the fact that I have no idea how this girl has made it through what had to be the toughest year and can still be so productive in her career, and have that brilliant smile on her face? It’s almost baffling to me. She is one tough lady.

I could probably sit here and write a million words on why I think her and Cory Monteith’s story would make a great YA novel but honestly, the wound is still too fresh and I can’t really talk about it. (All these clips from her recent interviews promoting her album have gotten to me.) So today I’m focusing on BEST FRIENDS. Lea met her best friend (Broadway star, recent Frozen supporting actor and friend to all reindeer) Jonathan Groff back in 2005, when they were starring in the off-Broadway musical, Spring Awakening, and remain just as close today.

Young Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele

Originally, when the image of the two of them popped in my head, I was like: female main character with her gay best friend. Ding ding ding! I couldn’t even think of many examples in my YA lit of this kind of relationship. (Of course, I turned to Twitter for some suggestions: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover; Something Real by Heather Demetrios [ sister + brother characters]; Stealing Parker by Miranda Kenneally.) Is there the risk for a friendship like this to become stereotypical? Absolutely, but if it reflects the intimate and easy-going nature of Jonathan and Lea’s relationship — it could definitely work.

I’ve never had a best friend like you. I never had the person who’s the person. The person you call, the person who’s there, the person who gets you, the person who makes you laugh. You know, that person… for the first time, I feel like I’m number one on the list. You are my first best friend. There is so much relief when you’re with the person who gets you the most. — lea on jonathan, teen vogue (march 2014)

So many times the emphasis is placed on the romance in young adult books and I think the longevity of Lea and Jonathan’s relationship through so many changes (careers, distance, partners) can definitely play into how their connection can grow and change through the years. Were they ever competitive with each other? Did they ever not like who the other was dating? Did some people just not get their friendship?

Since Glee, she’s inspired people across the world with her unapologetic ambition, insane talent, and astonishing grace. Me, especially.” — jonathan on lea, teen vogue (march 2014)

In the wake of a horrific situation, it’s obvious (even from a distance) that Jonathan stepped in as kind of protector, and has been there to support his best friend. I really admire that because it can’t be easy to see someone you love in so much pain, and be powerless to stop any of it. And on the other hand, even though Lea has displayed so much personal strength … everyone needs to accept help sometimes. They compliment each other well.

Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele Teen Vogue

Anyway, enough with the sad stuff. I want more best friends and they don’t even need to be a female character and her gay best friend. How about just best friends of the opposite sex? Or best friends in general? Because they make really, really good stories and make us appreciate the people around us who we can lean on, and who believe in us and love us just because.

Until that time comes, here are a few suggestions to tide us over:

From Hollywood to Your Bookshelf Lea Michele and Jonathan Groff

The Vow by Jessica Martinez | Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Theory of Everything by Kari LunaOpenly Straight by Bill Konigsberg

Would you like to see more friendships like Lea and Jonathan’s in books? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Be sure to stop by Alexa Loves Books to check out her From Hollywood to Your Bookshelf pick!

Thanks to Betty, Judith + Ellice, and Racquel who tweeted in title suggestions!

March 15, 2014 - 1:34 pm

Alexa S. - I just love Lea Michele. She’s extremely talented, and driven, and I admire how she handles herself professionally. I’m also extremely enamored with her relationship with Jon (they are TOO cute!) and still kind of reeling from Cory 🙁 But I love this post! You explained so eloquently about them, and gave some awesome book examples too.

March 10, 2014 - 3:57 pm

Maggie @ Just a Couple More Pages - This is the post idea that made me all ranty! I really like how it came out and I’m glad you added the stuff about other types of friendships at the end. I agree we need more solid, drama-free (or drama-minimum) relationships in YA.

March 9, 2014 - 1:12 pm

Lucy - I love J. Groff! He’s so good in HBO’s Looking, and his friendship with Lea is so sweet. Great book suggestions too! Better Off Friends is one I want to read asap.

March 7, 2014 - 1:33 am

fishgirl182 - Great post. I would definitely like to see more friendships like this in YA books. There is definitely an emphasis in YA but I think friendships are just as important. I have not read a lot of those books you mentioned but I’ll have to try them.

March 6, 2014 - 3:41 pm

alice-jane - I love, love this! I agree that there’s a lot of romance in YA and not enough friendships. I’d love to see friendship stories between guys and girls and how they transform over the years. So much of my life has been influenced by my friends since I’ve leaned on them for support and shared many great memories, so it’ll be lovely to see that reflected in fiction as well.

I’m going to have to check out your book recommendations, especially Better Off Friends, which I’ve heard great things about.

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