It was surprisingly difficult coming up with books for this list. There are plenty of books that aren't guilty of girl-on-girl hate or bad female friendships, but I also don't remember many for specifically portraying good female relationships either. There aren't nearly enough that stand out for that reason or they're often really overshadowed by the romance (and as a result usually have the girls talk about nothing but guys).
Anyway...in the order I remember them, not in order of preference, here are my recommendations:
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein - This one... This book. Not only is it well written and genuinely fantastic in its own right, and not only is is about female spies and female pilots in World War 2, but it's also about best friends. That's the main relationship in this book and it is beautiful and fantastic and...ldfjhglkjfh. I love it. And this is coming from someone who likes romance in books, it didn't bother me that romance didn't play much of a role in this one, I loved it.
Rose Under Fire, the companion novel to this was also pretty good, it just didn't wow me in the same way Code Name Verity did (in general or with the female friendships).
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta - All of her books in general have really well written female characters and complex female relationships but this one specifically has a group of female friends and we get to see them again in The Piper's Son being just as awesome as ever and fiercely protective of each other.
The mother/daughter relationship also plays a big part in this one too, just while we're on the subject of women and their relationships with other women...
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead - I love this series, but one of the things I loved most about it was the friendship between Rose and Lissa. It was really well done -- they were protective of each other, they argued (which is great because friendships aren't always perfect), they were there for each other when it counted most, they had fun together.
And while the book did have some catty girl stuff in it at times, it wasn't badly done from what I remember -- that character actually later becomes one of my favourites and she's given depth and becomes friends with the main characters.
Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen - I'd almost forgotten about this one until Liz (mentioned below) reminded me. I'm not going to say much about it because I read it so long ago and my thoughts on it are all muddled up with the movie adaptation (How to Deal), but friendship is a big part of the book and I do remember it was done well.
I also really recommend the movie (which actually combines the plot of this book with another Sarah Dessen book, That Summer). And Sarah's other books probably do the female friendship thing pretty well too.
Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer - I was hesitant to add this one because the series has issues and the female friendships are kind of overshadowed by the romance.
But, as far as female friendships in books go, I did like the Alice/Bella friendship. I also liked that Alice loved shopping but wasn't treated like an airhead with no depth because of it. And I liked Bella's friendship with Angela and the fact that while Rosalie wasn't exactly Bella's biggest fan their relationship wasn't written in that catty sort of way that gets under my skin. Again, the books are far from perfect but I do think it deserves some credit for this.
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell - This is an odd one, because the female friendship in this case is mostly just shown through email exchanges and through the eyes of the male main character...but I loved it, their friendship reminded me a lot of my own with my best friend (especially during a time when she was living further away and we would exchange emails all the time).
The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty - This series in general really. It's in an odd format (told through letters and that sort of thing) but it's so good and so well written and the female friendships in the book are excellent. They're hilarious and so protective of each other and just -- I love this book, and the friendships are a big part of that reason.
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants series by Ann Brashares - I love the friendships in this, because the girls are all so different...different people, different backgrounds. Their friendship goes beyond just common interests (because they're all so different that they don't actually have many overlapping interests) and I love that. And I love that we get to follow them from their teens until they're adults, and we see how their friendships change over the years in ways that so many girls will relate to. It's such a good series for female friendships.
9. The Drake Chronicles series by Alyxandra Harvey - I really liked Lucy and Solange's friendship in this series, it reminded me a bit of Lissa and Rose from Vampire Academy. I can't say much more than that because it's been so long since I read any of the books, but I do remember that being one of the highlights.
10. Lying Out Loud by Kody Keplinger - I actually just read this one recently (review will be up tomorrow) and it was great. The female friendship was a
big part of the story and it was done really well -- they had fights, they weren't perfect but that just made them more realistic. And even when there's jealousy, it's not the catty, cliche, girl-hate kind of jealousy and I loved that.
...It is really irritating me that I had such a hard time coming up with 10. I mean, I can think of others where female friendships happen (The Sky is Everywhere? A Little Wanting Song? Sloppy Firsts? Love Letters to the Dead?) except I don't remember those because of the female friendships...in some cases, I don't even remember the names of the female friends, which isn't a good sign (either because they weren't memorable or because my memory sucks -- either way, not a good sign!).
And since I was having such a hard time coming up with recommendations, I asked people on twitter if they had any and these lovely people have given a bunch of others (some even reminded me of a few books I'd forgotten about or mentioned some I'd chosen myself):
@AliHeartsBooks The Start of Me & You and Open Road Summer of course. Also I'll Meet You There, Since You've Been Gone, Vampire Academy— Angie (@disquietus) July 4, 2015
— Liz Vallish (@elizziebeth) July 4, 2015
@AliHeartsBooks the Never series by Lesley Livingston, Sorrow's Knot by Erin Bow. Daughter of Smoke & Bone? Karou & Zuz are great friends.— Lindsay (@le_robertson) July 4, 2015
— otakutwins reviews (@otakutwins1) July 4, 2015
— Katie (@book_matcher) July 4, 2015
— Sarah Tomp (@swtomp) July 4, 2015
— Heidi Schulz (@HeidiSchulz) July 4, 2015
Goodreads links for all the books mentioned:
Emery Lord books (mentioned by Angie, Julie also recommended these ones)
I'll Meet You There
Since You've Been Gone
Written in the Stars
Pretending to be Erica
The Never series
Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Throne of Glass
How to be Bad
My Best Everything
Dahlia Adler's books (not shown in the tweets, but Julie recommends these)
Can you think of any books with good female friendships? Or a book where the romantic rival for the main character isn't horribly vilified? I really couldn't think of examples of that one off the top of my head (except maybe the Vampire Academy one).
p.s. If there's any tweets not included it's because I didn't see it until after I'd scheduled the post, but thank you anyway! :)