Being Friends With Boys
These things can get complicated…
Charlotte and Oliver have been friends forever. She knows that he, Abe, and Trip consider her to be one of the guys, and she likes it that way. She likes being the friend who keeps them all together. Likes offering a girl’s perspective on their love lives. Likes being the behind-the-scenes wordsmith who writes all the lyrics for the boys’ band. Char has a house full of stepsisters and a past full of backstabbing (female) ex-best friends, so for her, being friends with boys is refreshingly drama-free…until it isn’t any more.
When a new boy enters the scene and makes Char feel like, well, a total girl…and two of her other friends have a falling out that may or may not be related to one of them deciding he possibly wants to be more than friends with Char…being friends with all these boys suddenly becomes a lot more complicated.
Being Friends With Boys is a Junior Library Guild Selection for 2012.
When I was working on The Summer of Firsts and Lasts, there were some special character interactions that I found myself really enjoying: namely, scenes between Calla and her friend Duncan, and Daisy and her friend Rutger. The exchanges between these pairs were so interesting and fun, that I thought to myself, I want to write more about this kind of platonic connection. But The Summer of Firsts and Lasts was mainly about sisters, first experiences, and romance, so I decided to save it for another book.
As soon as I finished though, I knew I wanted to start Being Friends With Boys.
Part of this was driven by my intense love and affection for all the Boy Friends I’ve been so lucky to have in my life. From a very early age, some of my closest friends have been guys (and to this day that is true), and I wanted this book to be my own kind of love song to all of them. I wanted to celebrate all the things they’ve been and meant to me, and showcase how totally awesome a real life guy friend can be.
But I also knew and remembered that being friends with boys can be complicated. The line between Romantic Interest and Platonic Interest is sometimes so fine; we seek many of the same qualities in a boyfriend as we do in a friend, and very often those lines can get blurred. You may have a crush on him, he may have a crush on you, people may think you’re crushing on each other when you’re really not … These things, as the tag line of the book says, can get complicated. And I thought that would create some interesting scenarios to write about.
I also watched a lot of John Hughes films when I was young, and I loved the way he forced characters to interact with each other, sometimes in raw and uncomfortable ways, but always with endings that made you happy. So I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t also thinking of his films when I was writing this.
The band element arose because in my current life, I find that most of my interactions with my guy friends involve some kind of creative project. I thought about what kind of scenario might cause one girl to be in heavy interaction (in a friendly way) with a bunch of guys, and a band seemed the most natural fit. They’d be creative, goof around, have fun, but they’d also be serious and would spend a lot of time together.
A lot of people have asked me, because of the title of the book, whether it’s really possible for girls and boys to be “just friends,” and my honest and sincere answer is “Yes, absolutely.” But I won’t deny that sometimes it can get tricky, as I hope you’ll see and experience when you read Being Friends With Boys.
Check out my Being Friends with Boys Pinterest board, where I've been collecting images of things that Charlotte and her friends like.
Here are also some questions about Being Friends With Boys to get a conversation going:
- Why do you think Charlotte enjoys her “in the background” position with Sad Jackal, at first? Why does she eventually want to move more into the foreground?
- What do you think about the girls in Being Friends With Boys? Are they better or worse than Charlotte’s boy friends? In what ways, and why do you think?
- Which are your favorite lyrics of Charlotte’s? If you could download or purchase Sad Jackal’s songs, would you? Which ones?
- Charlotte examines several important relationships in this book, some of them romantic and some not. What do you think she learns or gains from each person?
- What do you think about Charlotte’s mother? How significant is that relationship in terms of the other relationships she has in the book?
- How did you feel about the way the book ended? Were you surprised? Happy? Disappointed? What other endings could you imagine for Charlotte?
- Do you have a friendship like the one between Oliver and Charlotte, Benji and Charlotte, Fabian and Charlotte, or Trip and Charlotte? What is your favorite part about it? What makes it complicated?
- What things surprised you while you were reading Being Friends With Boys? What things did you know were going to happen?
- Why do you think there is a coffee cup on the cover of the book? What other food or drink item would you have put there instead?
- What did you learn about friendship, overall, while you read Being Friends With Boys?