Category Archives: friends

Nothing Compares 2 U

TeamTeen(1)

Today’s theme for the TeamTEENAuthor group post is Break-Ups.  But since it’s been a loooong time since I’ve had one of those (1997, to be exact) I’ve decided to write about friendship break-ups, which is a huge part of my book, REUNITED.

Though if you’ve recently had your heart broken, go put on a pair of comfy PJs, open up the Ben and Jerry’s, and see my recommendations for the best break-up albums and movies at the end of this article.

Divorcing Our Friends: When Friendships Fall Apart

I got dumped freshman year of high school. Not by my boyfriend, because, sadly, I didn’t have one, but by Shannon*, the girl who had been my best friend since age ten. Shannon and I had spent the past five years practically living at each other’s houses. We went of our first double date together, attended the same summer camps. In fifth grade we wore matching Van Halen baseball shirts to school once a week.

Then high school came and something shifted. For reasons I couldn’t explain, Shannon started spending more time with Chrissy* and Megan*, two pony-tailed blondes from our soccer team. Each weekend, the three of them would go off to cool upperclassmen parties, while I sat at home, pining for the carefree days of sleepovers, riding bikes, and making prank phone calls. Sure, I wouldn’t have been opposed to tagging along for a keg party or two, or making out with any number of cute boys from the varsity soccer team. The problem was, Shannon never asked me along.

Then one winter night, a few months into the school year, I was trying to coordinate plans for Shannon and I to attend a hockey game, when she simply stopped answering my calls. After ten or twenty desperate attempts to get her to click over to the other line, she finally picked up, only to tell me that she’d already made plans to go to the game. With Chrissy.

“Fine,” I told her, not getting the message, “I’ll meet you guys there.”

“No,” Shannon said, her voice oddly distant. “Chrissy and I don’t want you to come.”

So, it was very healing, twenty-five years later, when I managed to land my first book deal because of that painful experience. Reunited, my debut young adult novel, tells the story of three ex-best friends who take a road trip from Boston to Austin to attend the one-night-only reunion show of the band they all once loved. And though I’ve never had the pleasure of driving cross-country with my ex-best friends, thanks to Shannon, I was able to connect with the complicated feelings of a friendship gone south.

But whether or not we’ve gone through a traumatic split like mine, we’ve all had the experience of losing a friend. Usually, we don’t mean for it happen. But over time things change—we move, we get involved in romantic relationships, we spend more time on our careers, our marriages, and our kids.

Sometimes, friendships crumble simply because our lifestyles have become too different. It seems like everyone has at least one friend who never quite managed to grow up. Back in college; you two partied like it was 1999. Hell, it was 1999. But a decade later, you’re busy attending school plays and shopping for lawnmowers, while your old pal is still out hitting the bars five nights a week.

Then there are friendships that break up due to some act of transgression, jealousy, or deceit. Angry words are exchanged Real Housewives-style, eventually culminating in a dramatic, and usually permanent, parting of ways. I don’t think this phenomenon is all that common, at least among the rational, self-aware women I know, though it seems to be one of the few kinds of female “friendship” portrayed on reality TV.

So, what’s the real culprit? Why do some friendships fall apart while others stay together?

I think it all centers around our ability to be open—not just to intimacy, which of course, is a big part of any meaningful relationship, but also to having people in our lives who may not be exactly like us. The older we get, the more we figure out who we are, which is mostly a wonderful thing, but can also be limiting, if we’re not careful. Understandably, I prefer to spend my time with people who share my values, interests, and my undying, irrational love for Pa Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie. But over the years, I’ve learned that connecting with people is about more than just that. It’s about building a special world together that only you share, a secret clubhouse of sorts, only without the “No Boys Allowed” sign tacked to the door. Though it’s strongly implied.

Personally, I am lucky enough to have remained close with a big group of old friends who date back to my childhood. Some of us still have a lot in common. Others, it’s doubtful we’d strike up a friendship had we met today. But even though our lives may be quite different, there’s something quite great about sharing a history with someone, a comfort, and even a vulnerability, in knowing that this friend understands the person you used to be—and still are, at your core.

I am also blessed to have lots of “new” friends who I share a lot in common with and who live close by. For the past three years, this group of women and I have spent every Tuesday night together, barring a snowstorm or a kid with a high fever. Together, we put a lot of energy into nurturing our friendship, making sure to prioritize it in our hectic daily lives, because keeping a friendship alive takes work, just like a marriage does.

Unfortunately, the busy twenty-first century world we live in is too often a killer of friendships. We’re always juggling a million things at once, so friends are squeezed in like an afterthought, in between romantic partners, kids, and work. It doesn’t help that with the advent of Facebook, the very definition of word “friend” has been trivialized to include “that kid you once sat next to in Calculus class.”

Sure, our friendships as women might take some effort to maintain. And they’ll never have the same intensity they did when we were girls, back when our best friends were our everything. But the laughter, wisdom, and emotional support my friends and I give each other gives back to each of us in profound and significant ways. Because of my Tuesday nights out, I’m a better wife, a better mother, and a happier me. And if I ever have an overwhelming desire to discuss Pa Ingall’s sex appeal, I know I’m not alone.

*Names have been changed for privacy.

—————————————————–

And now, a little something for the lovelorn…

Hilary’s List of “Best Break-Up Movies”

Weirdly, Zooey Deschanel’s in two of them.

  • 500 DAYS OF SUMMER
  • CELESTE & JESSIE FOREVER
  • ALL THE REAL GIRLS
  • ANNIE HALL
  • HIGH FIDELITY

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Hilary’s List of “Best Break-Up Albums”

Not weirdly,  two of them are by Joni Mitchell.

  • JONI MITCHELL – BLUE
  • JONI MITCHELL – COURT & SPARK
  • NICK CAVE – THE BOATMAN’S CALL
  • THE CURE – DISINTEGRATION
  • RICHARD & LINDA THOMPSON – SHOOT THE LIGHTS OUT
  • ALANIS MORRISSETTE – JAGGED LITTLE PILL

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Oh, and the all-time best break-up song ever… Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U”

For more teamTEENauthor posts about break-ups, check out these:

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Filed under books, movies, YA, writing, friends, friendship, friendship break-ups, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, teenage girls, young adult

What makes a great book club

Last week, I had the honor of doing my first book club visit as a published author, thanks to my friend Connie, one of my biggest cheerleaders. Though not technically young adults, Connie’s book club branched out from their typical reading fare in order to include my YA novel, REUNITED.  The afternoon started with a fun speaking event at the Westfield, MA Athenaeum,  followed by a lovely dinner with the book club gals.

Having never been to a book club other than my own, it was exciting to get a glimpse of another group’s unique combination of literature, food and friends–this special recipe being the heart and soul of the book club experience.  Plus, a good book club exposes us to ideas, authors, and cuisines that we might not have discovered to on our own.  Just like the Westfield ladies probably wouldn’t have have found my book, had it not been for Connie’s gentle prodding. 😉  Right now, my book club’s reading THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO by Junot Diaz.  What are you reading in your book club?

Books, food, and friends–a hat-trick of awesomeness.

 

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Filed under books, movies, YA, writing, favorite books, friends, Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, young adult

Win Tons of Books & Stuff at TeamTEEN Author’s Dare Day Challenge

Guess what, teamTEEN author fans?  It’s Dare Day again!  I know I said that last week, but apparently I jumped the gun a bit.  Whoops.  But the good news is, this week, you can enter to win books & stuff!

To check out all of the fabulous PRIZES, just go to the TeamTEEN Author Dare Day Contest, read the rules, enter the contest, & you may just get lucky.

Dares for this week were concocted by the evil, young minds over at The Perfect 10.  Our choices were:

1) Covering your face with peanut butter & takign a picture (yum!)

2) Writing about your most embarrassing teen moment Shakespearean sonnet-style

3)  Revealing your biggest teen crush, complete with photos (see below)

And if you like seeing authors make fools of themselves, check out these Dare Day posts from other TeamTEEN Authors.

Julie Cross

Janci Patterson

Laura Ellen

Elizabeth Amisu

Eugene Meyers

Kim Sabatini

And now, I present to you, my biggest teen celebrity crush.

My Celebrity Crush Likes Richard Nixon!

I guess I’m a bit of a pragmatist when it comes to love.  Sure, I had my share of teen crushes, but always on boys I actually knew, boys who were, at least theoretically, within my grasp.  Unlike my pre-teen friends, I never understood the thrill in pressing my lips to the pages of Tiger Beat Magazine.  Probably because I had the good sense to realize that there was no way in hell Leif Garret or Shaun Cassidy would choose a nine-year-old as their girlfriend.  And except for one naughty dream about Van Halen front-man David Lee Roth (which I blame entirely on my subconscious) the boys of my fantasies were always just regular ol’ dudes.

And then I saw Michael J. Fox.

For the record, I also had a girl-crush on Justine Bateman.

Never mind that he was 5’2” and, in all likelihood, weighed less than me. Or that his character on FAMILY TIES was a rabid Republican.

Why, Alex, why???

Then BACK TO THE FUTURE came out, and my infatuation swelled to proportions not even a flux capacitor could measure.

Wait a minute, Doc. Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?

By the time I went to Japan for the summer as an exchange student, I’d created a well-worn collection of romantic MJF fantasies to keep me company whenever I felt lonely. Which was a lot.  These often played to the soundtrack of Paul Simon’s Graceland—one of the few cassette tapes I’d brought with me on my trip.

Thinking about that time in my life brings up fond memories. And as a tribute to my former crush, I’m going to go donate to his charity for Parkinson’s Disease right now.

https://www.michaeljfox.org

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Dare Day: In Which I Reveal My Biggest Celebrity Crush

Guess what, teamTEEN author fans?  it’s Dare Day again!  Oh yes, I already completed my qualifying dare last March (see below).

But I’ve never been one to turn down a chance to humiliate myself on the interwebs.  And so, I present to you, my biggest celebrity crush.

My Celebrity Crush Likes Richard Nixon!

I guess I’m a bit of a pragmatist when it comes to love.  Sure, I had my share of teen crushes, but always on boys I actually knew, boys who were, at least theoretically, within my grasp.  Unlike my pre-teen friends, I never understood the thrill in pressing my lips to the pages of Tiger Beat Magazine.  Probably because I had the good sense to realize that there was no way in hell Leif Garret or Shaun Cassidy would choose a nine-year-old as their girlfriend.  And except for one naughty dream about Van Halen front-man David Lee Roth (which I blame entirely on my subconscious) the boys of my fantasies were always just regular ol’ dudes.

And then I saw Michael J. Fox.

For the record, I also had a girl-crush on Justine Bateman.

Never mind that he was 5’2” and, in all likelihood, weighed less than me. Or that his character on FAMILY TIES was a rabid Republican.

Why, Alex, why???

Then BACK TO THE FUTURE came out, and my infatuation swelled to proportions not even a flux capacitor could measure.

Wait a minute, Doc. Are you telling me that you built a time machine… out of a DeLorean?

By the time I went to Japan for the summer as an exchange student, I’d created a well-worn collection of romantic MJF fantasies to keep me company whenever I felt lonely. Which was a lot.  These often played to the soundtrack of Paul Simon’s Graceland—one of the few cassette tapes I’d brought with me on my trip.

Thinking about that time in my life brings up fond memories. And as a tribute to my former crush, I’m going to go donate to his charity for Parkinson’s Disease right now.

https://www.michaeljfox.org

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Giveaway Tuesday: Best Friends 4-Eva!

In just three weeks from today, REUNITED hits the shelves!  So, in celebration of the final countdown, I’m hosting a giveaway a week.  And each week, the prizes get bigger & better!

The winner of last week’s contest, and the proud owner of a REUNITED T-shirt, signed bookmarks, & a Road Trip Mix CD is… (drumroll please) aLmYbNeNr, whose favorite band to listen to on a road trip is Puddle of Mudd.  The Runner Ups, who’ll receive signed REUNITED bookmarks and a Road Trip Mix CD, are Jasmine R.(A Room with Books) and Christina (A Reader of Fictions).  Congratulations, ladies!  I’ll email you for your addresses & prizes will be mailed soon.

Now, on to the theme of this week’s Giveaway Tuesday:  friendship.

To enter, all you need to do is share your best friend’s first name in the comments section of this post, and one winner will receive not one, but two pre-release hardcover copies of REUNITED – one for you, and one for your BFF.  You may share more than one friend’s name, but if you win, know that all 78 of you will have to share the two books amongst yourselves. 😉  Contest open to U.S. residents only.  Good luck!

Double your pleasure! Win one book for yourself, and one for a friend.

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Truth or Dare Challenge

Oh, Truth or Dare, why can’t I resist you?  From that very first game at summer camp, I was hooked.  I can still remember the go-to dare I inflicted upon countless girls during our sixth and seventh grade sleepovers:  pull down your pajama bottoms and run past So-and-So’s parents in the kitchen. Good times.

And now, I’m ready to pull down my own pajama pants.  Metaphorically speaking, that is.  Or maybe not.  That’s right, people, I’m inviting YOU to give me a truth or dare challenge.  Here’s how it works.

In the comments section, write, 1 question for me to answer truthfullyand 1 dare, and just like in the game, I promise to do one of them.  Any dares I attempt will be documented with photographic or video proof.

And if I chicken out, my punishment will be to post a chicken pic on my blog for a week.

Why am I doing this?  Because it’s the mandatory hazing if I want to join teamTEEN author and have REUNITED be a part of their very cool ARC Relay!  TeamTEEN author is the brainchild of Julie Cross, author of TEMPEST, and she’s put together a great group of teen book reviewers (known as The Perfect Ten) to read and review YA.

So basically, I’ve succumbed to peer pressure and self-degradation in order for the chance to hang with the cool kids.  But just like in junior high, it totally seems worth it. 😉  Plus, I’ll get this nifty virtual medal.  So go ahead — give it your best shot.

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True Teen Stories: Three’s a Crowd

Welcome to Volume 3 of “True Teen Stories,” a blog series which features non-fiction essays from teen writers.  I am incredibly impressed and proud of the writer of this next story, 14-year-old Angel R. of the U.K., author of “Three’s a Crowd.”   It’s not easy to open yourself up to the world, and I think Angel’s bravery and candor will be an inspiration to girls everywhere.

THREE’S A CROWD

By Angel R., age 14 

I remember sometime last year, lying on my best friend’s bed with my nose stuck in a book as she complained about yet another boy that had ‘broken her heart’. This one only lasted a week. The pair of us, I realize now, must have looked like those cheesy best friends that you see in all the 1990’s movies. Phoebe Smith* and I had been best friends since she stood on my foot on the first day of primary school and, at 13 years a piece, had been through so much together: first bras, first boyfriends, first break-ups, and first periods. You name it, we had been through it together.

It was around this time that my feelings towards Phoebe started to change. We went from being BFFs to me being madly in love with her and her being completely clueless as usual. I think that I’d always had a special place in my heart for Phoebe and, once I discovered it was okay to like girls, finally admitted my feelings to myself. I remember her falling beside me on the bed and asking why she didn’t like girls instead, it would be so much easier. We talked about sexuality for about an hour and both agreed that yes, it was okay to date other girls but no, she and I wouldn’t be doing it anytime soon after all, as Phoebe said “Neither of us are really lesbians”

A couple of months after the ‘bedroom incident’, a new girl showed up at school. Her name was Laura Slough and she was one of these girls that always wears designer clothes and has a giggle that reverberates around in your skull for hours after hearing it, which is why it surprised me so much when Phoebe invited her to hang around with us. Now, I’m all for making someone feel welcome, so of course I played nice.  But as Phoebe and Katy started to grow closer I couldn’t help but get slightly jealous. So, I did the only thing I could think of: not let it get to me. It worked, for the rest of that school year and the start of the next one. Sure, our cozy duo became a trio, but we were all friends and we all loved each other.  Or so I thought.

With the new addition to our group, my feelings towards Phoebe only got stronger and stronger and, I realized as the world was changing around me, I didn’t like boys the way other girls did, I liked girls and I had to face up to that fact and stop hiding it. I was happy with my new, clearer, knowledge of myself and wanted to share it with my friends, after all Phoebe had basically told me that it was okay to be gay and if Laura didn’t like it, well I wasn’t really losing much was I? So I was going to do it one day at school, I managed to get them into a quiet part of the school by telling them I had ‘something important to tell them’ but when it came around to actually saying something I found I couldn’t do it so quickly ran off leaving two very confused teenagers behind me.

I decided that the easiest way to do it would be over MSN so, during our 6pm scheduled chat I was almost forced into it by Laura. Here’s a snippet of that conversation: 

Phoebe: Or vegas! Wat bout u Ang do u wanna go vegas wiv me?

Me: I’d love to go with you Phoebe.

Laura: Oh, ang. Wat u wanted to tell us?

Me: Oh, right. Um, it doesn’t matter?

Phoebe: Go on babes, tell us

Me: Well, its kinda important.

Laura: Just spit it out!

Me: I’m gay.

Laura: WAT? Wind up rite?

Me: No, I’m being serious. I’m in love with another girl

Phoebe: I don’t know what to say baby o_O

Laura: hows bout: thats gross! Wat girl would wanna kiss u?

Me: Phoebe?

Phoebe has signed out

The conversation continued (via text now) with lots of swearing and derogatory names thrown at myself, mainly by Laura but a few coming from the girl I love too.

The next day I walked into school with my head held high even though I could hear the gossip about me spreading like wildfire through the hallways. I came face to face with the two girls that had haunted my dreams the previous night and, looking me straight in the face, Laura simply spat on my shoe and told me that if she saw me again she would do it in my face. I looked to Phoebe for support, but she just linked arms with Laura and spat on my shoe as well. I knew in that moment that letting Laura into our duo was the worst mistake of my life so far.

A few weeks later, after avoiding both girls in the hallways, Phoebe was announced to be on a long holiday, visiting family in Australia apparently. But Phoebe doesn’t have any family in Australia, so I am not certain why she is really gone, but the one thing I am certain of is that when she returns, I am going to talk to her alone.  Because, let’s be honest:  three’s a crowd.

*Actual names have been changed

About the Author:  Angel is a 14-year old girl. She has been in girlguiding for 10 years now and currently helps at both a Rainbow (young girls aged 5-7) and a Brownie (girls aged 7-10) unit, she also helps at two local charity shops (British heart foundation and Scope). In the little free time she gets she likes to listen to both classical music and the top 40 whilst writing the several novels she has on the go. She, one day, aspires to be a primary teacher along with publishing several of her own novels and leading Rainbow, Brownie and Guide (girls aged 10-14) units during the week and at the weekend continue to volunteer at local charity shops.


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