It never dawned on me how much I use ‘friends as family’ as a trope in what I write. Hindsight is a funny thing. From that first book I wrote thirty novels ago to Death at a Scottish Wedding (Lucy Connelly), coming out in January, friends play an essential role in developing my main characters and the plot.
In the Lucy Connelly Sea Isle series, Dr. Emilia leaves everyone behind when she moves from Seattle to a small town in Scotland, but her friends in the new village become closer than any family ever could. Not only do they help her solve crimes, but they are there when times are tough.
While I’m lucky enough to come from a loving family, I wouldn’t survive without those I call friends. I find it interesting that it has become a relationship I consistently explore, but I am not alone in my love for found families in literature.
From the world of Harry Potter to Rebecca Yarros’ Fourth Wing, friends as family play a central theme in books. Those friends sometimes save lives or are simply there for us during the most challenging times. They scoop us up off the floor and help us face difficult situations. Most importantly, they often help heal the loneliest of hearts.
Fourth Wing, by Rebecca Yarros
In Fourth Wing, by Rebecca Yarros, the heroine, Violet Sorrengail, has a family. Her mother and sister are strong dragon riders. But the friends she makes in the Rider’s Quadrant become her true family, which is why it hurts when some of them die while trying to succeed at the treacherous school. Violet is considered fragile and a target through most of the first book, but her friends help her become stronger by training her. And even though she comes up with clever ways around specific problems, her friends are always there for her, even if some of them are frenemies like Xaden Riorson. The twist is that although some friends are protective of her, they may not be doing what is best for Violet’s personal growth. Sometimes, those frenemies do far more for her than she could have ever imagined. But she needs her friends if she is to survive.
Other Birds, Sarah Addison Allen
In Sarah Addison Allen’s Other Birds, Zoey Hennessey feels like a third wheel around her father’s new family. She heads across the country to Mallow Island, South Carolina, to claim her dead mother’s apartment at The Dellawisp complex. She makes friends with a grieving chef, a woman on the run, mysterious strangers, and a few ghosts. The more she learns about her oddball neighbors, the more they become like family to her. And while she needs to heal from a painful past, so do these new people in her life. That creates an unexpected bond that grows as they work together to learn to trust again and confront their deepest fears. Like most found families, they discover they are much stronger when they work together. It is through helping others that she heals her heart and finds her way in the world.
The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George
The broken-hearted Monsieur Perdu, who owns a literary apothecary, doesn’t realize how lonely he is until he sets sail on the Seine in Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop. While he cures what ails his customers by using books as medicine, he cannot quite do that for himself. Friendships are imposed upon him as he continues his adventure to the South of France. As he helps to heal his friends’ hearts on the barge ride, he discovers something strange happening to his emotional growth. Through his friends’ courage, he finds the power to risk everything for love again.
Small Town, Big Magic, by Hazel Beck
Emerson Wilde has a great group of friends and a successful business in Hazel Beck’s Small Town, Big Magic. The friends have become her surrogate family since her sister abandoned her, and the rest of her family is gone. But when strange magical creatures attack her, she soon learns everyone, including her friends, have been hiding the truth. She’s a witch. While she isn’t initially happy with them for the secrecy, she soon discovers her friends were only trying to protect her. And when evil comes to town, her friends are the only people who can help her fight the unknown. She can’t survive without them.
Virgin River, by Robyn Carr
The popular Netflix series Virgin River is based on Robyn Carr’s novel, where nurse practitioner Melinda Monroe runs away from her life to a remote mountain town. The recently widowed Melinda soon discovers her new life isn’t exactly how she dreamed it would be. But it is through the friendships she makes that she soon finds her place in the small town. As she is helping others, her heart begins to heal. The friends she makes become her surrogate family, and she will do anything to protect them.
Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling
Where would Harry Potter be without his friends Hermione and Ron? In each adventure, their bond grows until they become as close as family. They are there for one another. That doesn’t mean those bonds aren’t sometimes tested, as they were in Goblet of Fire, but they become as close as any family could be. It takes a few lessons, but they discover they are much stronger together and can’t fight any foe who comes their way. Through the series, they ultimately become one big happy family.