Sure, romantic breakups hurt, but people don’t talk enough about how friendship breakups are earth-shattering as well. There’s a lot of self-care tips around how to move on from an ex, but there are fewer guides on how to get our shit together when our best friends — who might be as close as family members — part ways with us. I had my fair share of friendship breakups over the years, and I still wonder what became of those I shared memories with. For those whose friendships died a slow painful death, who fell out of love with their friends, and who got ghosted when you needed friends, here are five books about friendship breakups that might give some comfort, especially in these trying times:
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Smith’s coming-of-age novel explores the complicated friendship of two brown girls.
Set in London, it follows Tracey and an unnamed narrator who are both dancers (thus making them fast friends). However, there are a lot of differences in their personalities, and there’s animosity as well. As they reach adulthood, they eventually go their separate ways: the unnamed character becomes an assistant to a pop star while Tracey remains stuck in her life.
Complex and sophisticated, I recommend Swing Time for those who lost their friends due to personal differences.
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Though the book shares the same title with a Kelly Clarkson song, it isn’t about moving on from a toxic, romantic relationship.
Since You’ve Been Gone follows two friends named Emily and Sloane. When Sloane ghosts Emily one day — just vanishing without a trace — Emily is puzzled. A few weeks have passed when Emily receives a mysterious to-do list from Sloane, somewhat similar to this generation’s TikTok challenges. These are things that Sloane wants Emily to do like “kiss a stranger, “go skinny-dipping,” and “steal something.” Along the way, Emily meets Frank, who helps her tick off the items on the list during the summer.
Those who were ghosted by their best friends should pick up this charming and delightful young adult novel.
Sula by Toni Morrison
This coming-of-age novel by the Nobel prize–winning author Toni Morrison explores female friendship.
Set in a Black neighborhood called Bottom in Ohio during the early 1900s, it centers around two Black girls named Nel Wright and Sula Peace who have opposing personalities. As they grow up, Nel stays in the Bottom while Sula leaves for the city, parting ways with each other. As years pass, their relationship goes through ups and downs: they reconcile, argue, and then reconcile again.
Dramatic and poignant, I recommended this book for those who lost their friends after a huge fight.
We Used to Be Friends by Amy Spalding
“It was easy to believe that romance was the only heartache out there,” Spalding writes as the character James.
Told in two perspectives, We Used to Be Friends focuses on the failed friendship of James and Kat, who met each other during kindergarten. Though they have different personality types, they still clicked with each other. During the start of their senior year, they are as thick as thieves. But at the end of the school year, things start to fall apart.
This is a good read for those whose friendships slowly fizzled, and it may remind them that the only permanent thing in life is change.
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
Winner of the National Book Award in Fiction in 2018, The Friend is about friendship, grief, and healing.
It follows an unnamed female character who loses her best friend and mentor, a novelist who dies by suicide. Said friend leaves a dog, a Great Dane named Apollo, but his wife is unable to look out for it. Still grieving, the female narrator takes care of Apollo instead as she starts the healing journey along with the dog.
The book is introspective and unpretentious — perfect for those mending their broken hearts after a painful friendship breakup.
The takeaway is that, as the saying goes, if one door closes, another one opens. There are plenty of fish in the sea, so cheer up!
Are the books above not enough? Well, here are “3 of the Best YA Books About Best Friend Breakups.”