Fiction has great characters, intriguing characters, characters I understand, and characters by whom I am fascinated. However, they are not all people I necessarily want to have running around in my life. Trying to find characters with whom I would want to be best friends took quite a bit of careful thought and perusing of the shelves. Anais Nin said, “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” I have always loved that quote, and in honoring Nin’s words of wisdom, I tried to create a list of literary friends who bring different things to the table – some friends I chose, I can imagine, would be just as challenging as they are rewarding.
My Fictional Best Friends
Laurie Laurence – Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott // I love Laurie. Growing up and reading Little Women, I was so devastated when Jo found Professor Bhaer, and Laurie went on to marry Amy. I still want a redo on that. I will never believe that Amy and Laurie are each others best match – Louisa was being contrary…but anyway, bygones. Laurie always struck me as being the trifecta of thoughtful, fun, and definitely there when you need him. There is nothing that he wouldn’t have done for Jo, or any of the March family – and he proved that again and again. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes and able to grease a few palms if a sticky situation would warrant such measures.
Sofia – The Color Purple, by Alice Walker // It’s important to have friends whom you admire and who will inspire. I love Sofia for both these reasons. LOVE her. Back in the rural South, in the 1930’s, in what was a man’s world- and a white man’s world at that- Sofia saw herself as an equal. She worked hard, she loved hard but she also expected respect, and confronted those who would behave toward her otherwise. I will never forget the conversation that she had with Celie where she lets her know that she understands very well what she did and how she feels about it. Powerful stuff. A woman capable not only of deep emotion, but also one not afraid of communicating her truth and vulnerability is one who fosters confidence and growth within a friendship. Sofia is a friend that you want for life.
Scarlett O’Hara – Gone With The Wind, by Margaret Mitchell // Say what you will about her many questionable decisions and life goals, Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler is a scrapper. Even if you are the friend she can barely tolerate or the friend she doesn’t know she has (I’m looking at you Melanie Wilkes), she will deliver your baby in the middle of a war, keep you from going hungry, kill a man, and get your husband a job so that you don’t have to move and leave your family behind. Sure she wants your husband, but who really needs a husband when you have Scarlett? Scarlet is the friend who leads by example. Melanie had inner strength, but she definitely became more of a force in wielding it when she saw the fierceness of Scarlett’s example. Scarlett is selfish, yes, and maybe misguided, but she is also the one I picture starting a lemonade franchise when life hands her lemons. You have to love a girl who loves life so much that she will take whatever comes her way and run with it.
Lena – Words by Heart, Ouida Sebestyn //I read Words By Heart as a girl and vividly remembered things about Lena – her views on life, her family struggles and her own struggle for self-actualization without endangering her family. When you read Lena’s story and see how smart she is, the lengths she will go to read books, to honor her own worth and integrity, and the sacrifice that she makes for her father, you will love her. This is one of my favorite books. She is the friend whose story you appreciate and whose strength of character in difficult circumstance, you admire.
Georgia – The Heart Is Not A Size by Beth Kephart // Georgia has a huge heart, which she is learning to navigate. She does her best to take care of her friends and do the things that they need while also trying to give them the space they need. She doesn’t always get it right, but that’s not always important either. She would be the best friend whose warmth you feel, whose intent you know is good, with whom you know that you can act out and she will stand by you until you can wake up and welcome her back to your life where she belongs – where you are lucky to have her.
Mary Jane – The Wednesday Witch, by Ruth Chew // Okay. I’ll ‘fess up. I am totally using Mary Jane for access to James, the magic vacuum cleaner, and Cinders, the talking cat. Good times with the three of them, oh, and the witch too. This bunch is a barrel of laughs and always into some mischief. Hey, a girl needs some partners in crime.
Aibileen & Minny – The Help by Katherine Stockett // These women risked their livelihoods, and personal danger to participate in and mobilize the women in their community for something that would benefit them all in a big way. Strong and capable, they don’t let the harshness of life steal their humanity and they know better than anyone what it means and how to be a friend.
Lisbeth Salander – The Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larson // It is quite possible that I say this just because there is no way I would want her against me in anyway. She would also come in handy for any revenge plots needing execution.
Louisa May Alcott – The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, by Kelly O’Connor McNees // Anyone who can survive parenting by Bronson Alcott has all the qualities you will ever need in a best friend. I also like the period that McNees covered with Louisa and how she allowed herself a little joy in a relationship. We could have fun chatting about how hot Joseph was and whether she can both run away with him and have the career that she wants.
Okay, so that was hard. Most fictional characters have such major issues, that finding good friends among them takes some work. Who would you want by your side?