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Chapter 16 - The Invention of Wings

I have had the opportunity recently to reflect on my female friendships and am continually awed by the strength of the women I know and the fastness of their friendship. Over the years these friendships have offered support, encouragement, shoulders to cry on, and a good kick in the pants when needed. There is no doubt I could call any of my closest friends at any time of the day or night and talk. More importantly these same women know when not to talk - when talking will only make us sad or allow us to feel sorry for ourselves or when silence is the only thing to say.

It of course started me thinking about books I've read that reinforce this "sisterhood" among women. There are so many books with strong female characters but in many of them the female protagonist is competitive with other women. In the friendships I know, we are competitive for each other not against each other. In the spirit of these friendships the following are books which speak to supportive types of relationship.

One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus - This historical fiction book is based on the premise that one thousand white women were given to the plains Indians to promote assimilation into white culture in the 1870's. (The idea was actually proposed to President Grant.) As the women journey into this unknown they find out how strong they all are. Author Jim Fergus has two other books in this series.

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See - Lisa See has written many novels which center around female friendships. Two young women living on the Korean island of Jeju become friends as they join the all women diving collective. While they know the excitement of diving for shellfish, they also know the danger involved. This danger doesn't compare to that faced as Japan annexes Korea. This friendship is pushed to the limits in this story.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe' by Fannie Flagg - This is a story of two women - middle aged Evelyn who feels she has become invisible and Mrs. Threadgoode who is telling Evelyn her life story. Mrs. Threadgoode's story includes tomboy Idgie and her friend Ruth--who back in the thirties ran a little place in Whistle Stop, Alabama, offering southern barbecue and maybe even a little murder.

Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish - Annie Freeman has given up her battle with cancer. For Katherine Givens, and four other women who have become her best friends, the adventure starts when she receives a package in the mail containing red sneakers filled with ashes and a note. It seems that Annie wants the most important women in her life to conduct a traveling funeral and to be the pallbearers.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante - The first of a quartet, My Brilliant Friend tells the story of two women who become friends as 10 year olds in 1950's Naples. As the years go by and Naples changes with the times, the two women change as well with their friendship weathering most of the changes.

Any suggestions for books with strong women and great friendships? Let me know!


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