Kristin Hannah’s 2008 novel, Firefly Lane, has recently been adapted as a Netflix series. Many people are reading the story for the first time or re-reading before watching the show. This book made me laugh, cheer and cry, sometimes all at once. I immediately took my copy to a best friend to read because I loved it so much.
In the summer of 1974 two teenage girls form a true friendship that will change their lives. Tully’s mother struggles with addiction, so Tully grew up bouncing from her mother’s home to her grandmother’s, or into the foster care system. She’s smart, determined and more fragile than she looks. Kate is a reserved reader and writer who seems to have the perfect home life. Her parents are still married and in love, and her stay-at-home mom makes nutritious meals and asks Kate about her day.
The two girls don’t seem like they would be a good fit as friends, but somehow it works. Tully seeks adventure and pushes Kate to take risks and have fun. Kate makes sure Tully doesn’t overdo it, and models honesty and real love. Together, Tully and Kate are a team and they’re always there for each other. As they grow into women their dreams change and they go in different directions, but the friendship stays strong. Then, a painful betrayal forces both women to question the friendship that they thought was the surest thing in their lives.
While you wait for your copy of Firefly Lane check out these memorable stories of friendship.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
Summer Sisters is the story of Caitlyn and Victoria (Vix), two girls from different worlds who become best friends in middle school during the late 1970s. The two spend their summers together at Martha’s Vineyard, learning and growing together into adulthood. Vix is a big reader, focused on academics and making something of herself. As the big sister of her family, she spends a lot of time helping care for her beloved brother, who is wheelchair-bound. Summers with Caitlyn are an escape, a chance to be free for just a while.
Caitlyn is from a wealthy family, but her parents are divorced and live apart. She lives with her aloof mother during the school year, and with her father and brother on the Vineyard during the summer. Summers with Vix mean family, adventure and someone to count on.
Caitlyn and Vix have very different goals. Vix knows she’ll need to work hard to be successful, while Caitlyn has a trust fund waiting to keep her comfortable. Vix wants to challenge herself and prove what she can do. Caitlyn just wants to enjoy her life and relationships, and not think too far ahead. The bond between them stays strong through everything. Eventually Vix will face some tough choices between the life she’s planned for so carefully and the friend who refused to plan at all.
The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe
The Girls from Corona del Mar is one of the most complex, layered friendship stories I have ever read. It does not shy away from dark topics and ethical debates. You will likely feel uncomfortable at times as the story explores luck vs choice, the good girl myth, and the way friendships can shape our personalities.
Mia and Lorrie Ann are growing up in the post-boom California of the 1990s. Mia thinks of herself as the bad girl, the one who managed to get pregnant her first time and chose abortion. Mia’s father abandoned her family, and her mother has checked out, leaving her to care for her little brothers much of the time. All she wants is to get away, to go to college and carve a life no one expects of her. Mia thinks Lorrie Ann is the good one, a girl with a perfect family and a golden soul who gives her heart to others.
Mia gets into Yale, her dream school, and sees the future opening up before her. However, she doesn’t believe she deserves it. As the years go by, Lorrie Ann is visited by bad fortune again and again. Lorrie Ann has a child and gets married right after high school. Then her son is born with severe disabilities. Her husband, who she speaks of as if he’s a saint, enlists in the armed forces to provide insurance for the family, and is killed in action.
The two women stay in touch, but their lives rarely intersect. When they reunite in person after so long, Mia realizes Lorrie Ann is not who she thought she was. Somehow that realization changes the way she sees herself. I love that this book shows the darker side of long-term friendships, and asks questions with no easy answers.
Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik
This is a celebration of lifelong friendship and books. Don’t let the title throw you off, this book is moving and powerful, with just the right amount of humor. Five very different women meet in their neighborhood and form a book club. Each member faces her own challenges, and as the years go by the group becomes a lifeline that changes the lives of all five women for the better.
Each chapter begins by naming the book discussed by the group that month, as well as which member chose the book, and why. This gives further insights into the characters, and gives readers a list of titles to follow up on. I loved reading about the bonds between this book’s cast of strong women. It’s a huge bonus that books were the bridge that brought the friends together.
The Girls from Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zaslow
The Girls from Ames is the true story of an extraordinary friendship between 11 women who met as girls in Ames, Iowa. Eventually they spread out to eight different states. They stayed friends through college, jobs, marriage, motherhood, divorce, illness and even death. This inspiring book shows how friendship can be one of the most sustaining powers in our lives for those fortunate to make a strong connection and willing to do the work to maintain that connection. Available instantly on Hoopla as an audiobook.
Fly Away by Kristin Hannah
After you’ve read Firefly Lane, but only then, you’ll want to come back to the follow-up story, Fly Away. Available with no holds on Hoopla as an audiobook.