Best Friend, BFF, soul sister, amiga, no matter what we call them, we all need that one special friend in our lives. We all need that person that is always in our corner no matter what the circumstances. The same holds true for our literary heroes. None of them could have gone through any of the challenges in their lives without the help and support of one or two best friends. In literature, the best friend is often the one who is willing to be in the supportive role for the sake of the protagonist. Yet they are often overlooked. Here at Teen Lit Rocks, we would like to pay homage to these best friends by showcasing them.
There are so many to choose from, but to start with I want to write about a best friend from the book “The Running Dream” by Wendelin Van Draanen. This book was the recipient of the Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience. Although there are so many best friends that I love, since I recently finished reading this book , it is fresh on my mind.
In”The Running Dream,” Jessica is the star on her high school’s track team. Then tragedy strikes the team when they are involved in a terrible accident in which one of the runners is killed and Jessica’s leg is crushed to the point of having to be amputated below the knee. As Jessica struggles to cope with the loss of her leg and not being able to run again, her best friend Fiona steps in and is the one that helps keep her going.
What’s she like? Fiona has blond hair with highlights. She has a beautiful smile and long, tan, smooth legs. Although she is shorter than other high jumpers, she is a force to be reckoned with on the track field. She is a sprinter and a high jumper on the track team.
Why her? Fiona is definitely the kind of friend anyone would want to have. When she first visits Jessica at the hospital she apologizes for wearing shorts, being ever mindful of the fact that her best friend just lost half of one leg. Fiona calls Jessica and keeps her up to date on all the latest news from school, the track team, and Gavin, the boy that Jessica’s had a crush on for a long time.
Fiona also picks up all of Jessica’s assignments from all of her classes while Jessica is in the hospital. She spends time with Jessica at the hospital and later at her home. When Jessica is depressed, Fiona helps her see how lucky she is to be alive. Fiona is the one who convinces Jessica to go back to school and then stays up late and gets up early to decorate the school with “Welcome Back Jessica” banners. She pushes Jessica’s wheelchair to all of her classes and talks to some of her teachers about which assignments she can cut back on while she tries to catch up with all of her school. Fiona tutors Jessica and helps her catch up. She works hard to make Jessica’s transition back to school as smooth as possible.
When Jessica is ready for her prosthetic leg, Fiona again is her greatest cheerleader. She encourages, pushes, and motivates Jessica to keep trying. She even drives her to one of her appointments and watches as Jessica is measured and examined for her new leg. She is integral in the track team’s involvement in fundraising for Jessica to get a special prosthesis that will enable her to one day run again. Fiona cares about Jessica so much, that she is even honest when she thinks Jessica is wrong. There is no way that Jessica could have progressed both physically and emotionally after such a traumatic even in her life without her best friend Fiona.
Favorite Fiona quotes:
“We’re almost there, she says softly. “It’ll be all right I promise you it’ll be all right.”
“When you’re gloomy and won’t talk to people, they don’t know what to do, okay? It’s not their fault…So yes, everyone misses you and asks about you and wants to know when you’re coming back.”
“So the school year fizzles to an end, and I wait. Fiona keeps me moving forward. She gets us Preparing for the SAT books for over the summer…Fiona also manages to get us job interviews at the Tremont Theater”…
…”Fiona who is the kindest, most thoughtful person on earth”…