Potential Friends for Life, and a Book List

When my children were young, I walked them to and from school every day. Our mornings were like those idyllic ones you’ve seen on television: a hearty, healthy breakfast homecooked by moi; walking the short path through the woods while observing nature; me waving cheerily as my sons ran off to their classrooms where their little minds were stimulated and challenged; no one every forgetting a book report, diorama, or &^%! field trip form on the kitchen table. (Hush. That’s how I’m choosing to remember it.)

About once a week, my older son—a social butterfly like his mother—would run out at the end of the day and happily announce, “I made a new friend today!” His standards of friendship—also like his mother’s—were low. I don’t mean this in a bad way. If the lunch lady gave him an extra scoop of spaghetti, she was his friend. A six-grader saying, “Hey, kid,” meant they were blood brothers. New classmate—potential pal.  Kid on the next swing—compadre! Some were fleeting acquaintances and others remain friends to this day. His outlook, also like mine, was to embrace each new friend as one with the potential for a long and productive relationship.

This past weekend, at the Crime Bake conference, I made a lot of new friends and hope they will all turn into long and productive relationships.

I had dinner with a delightful array of Potential Friends for Life. One PFL and I discussed books. (I know, duh, it was a mystery writer’s conference, of course we discussed books.) But this particular PFL and I talked about pleasure reading, and the non-mystery authors we both loved. At some point, she said, “Email me a reading list” which set my PFL meter pinging towards Sure Thing.

A little later, I began to talk about Iconic Child Narrators. I say “began to talk” because I ordered a Mimosa, and the band began to play, and the next thing you know, I was the second person in conga line. We never got back to discussing Iconic Child Narrators. To make up for the topic interruptus and because the subject is close to my heart, I decided to compile a short book list of my favorites and share it here. Soon—like, next week—I will devote a post to why the Iconic Child Narrator is important in literature.

That gives y’all a week to read all of these. And, yes, if you notice, they are all Southern.

Scout, from Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird

Ellen Foster, from Kaye Gibbons’ Ellen Foster

Will Tweedy, from Olive Ann Burns’ Cold Sassy Tree

Clover, from Doris Saunders’ Clover

Porter Osborne, Jr., from Ferrol Sams’  Run with the Horsemen

Frankie, from Carson McCuller’s Member of the Wedding

Jess, from Fred Chappelle’s I Am One of You Forever

Daisy Fay, from Fannie Flagg’s Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man

Buddy, from Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory

Who am I missing? I don’t mind a Yankee Iconic Child Narrator invading the list. I’ve just spent a wonderful weekend in Boston, with writers from everywhere. Good storytelling knows no boundaries.

Tell me about your favorites.


9 thoughts on “Potential Friends for Life, and a Book List

  1. So, are we PFL, Ramona? I hope so! (You don’t really have to answer that!) 🙂

    Man, I loved Frankie and her angst about her sister’s wedding. The author got it spot-on perfect. I would add Mick Kelly, the girl in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”, also by Carson McCullers.

    Oskar Schell, of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, by Jonathan Safran-Foer. An amazing book on the aftermath of 9/11 on one NYC family who lost a member in the WTC.

    Christopher, of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”, by Mark Haddon.

    Callie, of “Middlesex”, by Jeffrey Eugenides. Wow.


    1. Karen, I think we’ve moved past the P stage and are firmly FLs. 🙂

      Great additions! Thanks! I have another one staring at me from my bookshelf:

      Bruno, from John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. One of the most mind-blowing books I have ever read.


  2. Flavia de Luce from THE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE. Wonderfully observant and untrustworthy. Not a southerner, but–if you’ll forgive this northerner’s opinion–similarly gothic in tone.

    I wish there were pix of the conga line.


  3. Nancy, I love Flavia! Have you read the second one? It’s on my ‘must read’ list.

    Ramona, thanks for the FL status! ❤

    Our book club read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, but I was unable to read it. It's still on my list, too.

    Another is the most recent book we read, The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. It's actually narrated by Death, but seen mostly through the eyes of the nine-year old girl, Leisel. Death turns out to be a pretty funny guy, weirdly.


  4. Flavia! Yes!

    Karen, Boy in the Striped Pajamas is extremely difficult to read, I will grant you that. The people who protested against it didn’t understand that it was allegory–and masterful allegory–and so missed the point. I think it had to be emotionally brutal in order to succeed, which it did. It’s a brilliant novel.

    Don’t get me started on the film adaptation, however. It worked in so many ways, but minor changes to the father’s character completely changed him, and IMO, completely undermined the impact of the story. It is too bad they didn’t consult me, isn’t it? 😉


  5. Hello, friend,

    I nominate 13-year-old Gretchen Grace Gilman in Carolyn Hart’s wonderful LETTER FROM HOME for the list. The book was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In my mind it is a classic.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s