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With Love for Books Anniversary: Friendship in Good Times and Bad
by Krysten Lindsay Hager
I’m exciting to be a part of With Love for Books’ anniversary and to share my thoughts on friendship with you today. I spend my days writing about the friendships that shape and define you in your teen and preteen years and so I often think of my own friendships from that time for inspiration. I’ve shared the good times and the cringe-y times where you take to your bedroom with a good book, a cup of tea or a soda, and play your favorite get-through-the-sad-times music to help (my go-to sad music since I was a little kid has always been George Michael’s). And honestly, I have the same routine now when I go through a tough time.
My favorite singer, George Michael, just passed away and I remember he wrote a quote on his Faith album thanking his family and friends and saying, “whose loyalty and time are more important to me than ever before.” I understand that quote more today than ever. Looking back, as a teen, you’d do anything for your friends—you drop plans to be with a friend and put off homework and projects to spend the night talking a friend through a breakup or hard time.
Then, when you get older, a lot of things get in the way and people can make friendships less of a priority. It’s easy for people to get distracted by relationships, family, work, and, while they mean well, they don’t always make their friends a priority. They say things like, “Oh, they know I’m there for them if they really needed me.” But very rarely do people come out and say, “This is one of those times—I need you now.” It’s hard to ask for someone’s time or help. When I was going through my dad being sick, people always asked if there was anything they could do. I only asked one person for something and they put it off for so long that I just went without, but it hurt. And then when my dad passed a year later, I had a friend drop out of sight and I felt confused and lost. As much as those experiences hurt, it makes me realize how grateful I am to have friends who do support me.
When I was traveling during that time, I was an anxious wreck, but I had friends texting and messaging me support. One friend, Leslie was texting making sure I was okay, while my friend Suzanne was keeping me calm via FB message on that long car ride as I was trying to make sense of everything. They will never know how much that meant.
This year was the first Christmas without my aunt and second without my dad. I was dreading it, but as the days led up to Christmas I received messages, texts, and calls from friends saying they knew this was a hard time and they wanted to let me know they were thinking of me. Unexpected cards and gifts showed up to cheer me up through the holiday season and make me smile. Then, on Christmas Day, it was announced that George Michael had died. Now I was already thinking this was going to be a hard holiday, but then my crush since childhood passes? Ugh!! But I was amazed at the support I got from people reaching out to send me condolences and thoughtful messages and posting videos. It was so beautiful that people would think of me during that time and reach out to make sure I was okay. Things like that make you appreciate the power of friendship and connection.
In my book, Next Door to a Star, the main character Hadley is floundering after her best friend moves and has to try and make new friends. She ends up finding a true friend in a girl named Charlotte whose grandpa says, “To have a friend, you have to be a friend.” This is a theme that runs through all my books actually as all the girls learn what it means to have and be a true friend. And if I’ve learned anything about friendship it’s that being a good friend is just as important as having one.
About Krysten Lindsay Hager
Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels,
Krysten is a also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like.
Krysten has worked as a journalist and writes young adult, middle grade, new adult, and adult fiction as well as humor essays. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in southwestern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows (she's addicted to American Dad to the point where she quotes episodes on a daily basis and also loves Girl Meets World). She's a big Detroit Lions fan and even has a team gnome she inherited from her dad. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.