February is so much more than Valentine’s Day, romance, and heart-shaped chocolates. With the new month comes an opportunity to recognize a less traditional ode to love: friendship. Everyone needs a feel-good book that leaves you with warm, fuzzy feelings every now and then, and these recommendations don’t disappoint! So to honor International Friendship Month, we’ve picked out three enriching narratives that go beyond romantic tales and embrace the dimensions of love that exist within the bonds of amity.
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Childhood intimates, Sam and Sadie, navigate a world of borrowing money and begging for favors. Before graduating college, they craft their first blockbuster video game, Ichigo, catapulting them into brilliance, success, and wealth. Yet, even with their accomplishments, they find themselves vulnerable to the allure of their own creative aspirations and the betrayals of their hearts.
Friendship, love, and video games; the perfect combination no one knew they needed in a book.
Zevin’s intricately crafted coming-of-age novel explores the multifaceted aspects of identity, disability, failure, and the redemptive potential found in play. Sadie and Sam’s complex relationship, their love, and their promise to always be together beautifully illustrate the innocent hope ingrained in video games: losses aren’t permanent, and you can keep playing as many times as it takes for you to win.
COFFEE SHOP READ
The Celebrants by Steven Rowley
Twenty-eight years have elapsed since the quintet — Jordan, Jordy, Naomi, Craig, and Marielle — donned their graduation caps at Berkeley. Adrift in adulthood’s perplexing and vacuous realm, they grapple with the challenges of a new era. Over the years, they’ve come together, honoring a childhood pact to throw each other living “funerals” to remind themselves life is worth living — for their own sake and each other. But through the years, things have changed. As Marielle’s marriage ends, Naomi mourns her parents’ sudden death, and Craig admits to art fraud, Jordan harbors a secret that could reshape their pact, marking a pivotal turning point for the group.
Who doesn’t enjoy a heartfelt, slightly corny, yet earnest book? In a time where sadness and loneliness seem so abundant, The Celebrants offer a refreshing take on life through hope and connection. Rowley’s unique voice and loving story remind us how short our imperfect lives are and how healing friendship can be, especially in times of turmoil or loss. This book leaves its readers eager to embrace life and appreciates our inherent need for camaraderie. After all, friendship is what gives life value.
Small Joys by Elvin Hames Mensah
Harley, a recent college dropout, returns to his home in rural England. Struggling with his estranged relationship with his father, the humiliation of working a dead-end job, and his futile attempts to be happy, he finds himself on the edge of making a permanent decision. But his life unexpectedly takes a turn when his new roommate, Muddy, intervenes. Despite their differences, a deep friendship blossoms as Muddy introduces Harley to the joys of life. However, secrets, jealousies, and challenges endanger everything Harley has come to depend on, leaving him slowly faltering once again.
A quiet, introspective, yet joyful story of one man’s journey with mental health issues. While this story touches on dark and heavy topics such as homophobia and suicide, it’s done so in an informative and sensitive manner. It reaches out to the readers and thoroughly represents a more diverse audience. Contrary to expectations, this book doesn’t center on gay romance — though the main character is a 20-year-old gay Black man. Instead, its focus addresses the powerful roles of friendship, therapy, and the small joys in overcoming depression.
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