6 Books to Buddy-Read with your Teen or Twentyish Daughter
by Kelly Simmons
I have three daughters in their early twenties, and I honestly believe I’ve experienced every type of bored teenager and college student mood imaginable. There’s nothing to do, no one’s home, there’s nothing to eat, why couldn’t we go to Europe for Thanksgiving like Sophie/Courtney/Caroline/insert name here.
Girls can be tricky and expensive little humans to breed, and teenagers are experts at spending money, but not always spending time. So what to do?
If your daughter likes to read even a little bit – the right pair of books can be a great investment in your relationship. Especially if it’s raining. Or snowing. Or you’re stuck at a bad family party where Uncle Ron is telling the embarrassing stories again.
And a good book that your daughter actually likes? That will last longer than a Netflix binge. (Not that there’s anything wrong with TV but this post is about books. The sooner you accept this the happier I will be.)
So . . .cozy up with a throw and a big bowl of M&Ms and start your buddy read. Then you can talk about the parts you love or hate or don’t talk. Just be. Just read. Ah, I can almost hear the quiet hum of a well engaged mind . . . . here’s a few suggestions, all approved by my daughters and me . . . . some brand new, and some you may have missed (aka, they might be on sale.)
Dare Me, by Megan Abbott. Megan is super famous now as a screenwriter and novelist (I think maybe she doesn’t sleep?) but this early, propulsive novel about the world of cheerleaders is a gem approved by an author-mom and all THREE of her twenty something daughters. And it’s been optioned by Netflix (because we know you like TV even though this post isn’t about TV) in case you believe in designer labels more than my opinions. Important Caution: Actual cheerleaders and former cheerleaders might feel twinges of offense, but rejected squad members may feel twinges of karmic revenge.)
The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr. Mom has a nasty break up with hubby. Daughter has a broken heart studying in Paris. Come over, Mom! Let’s be sad and eat croissants together! Fast-paced and romantic. Because some people still believe in that madness. Like your daughter probably. Let her keep this fantasy alive until at least 25.
Normal People, by Sally Rooney. This novel chronicles a pair of awkward, troubled teenage lovers as they try to remain friends into young adulthood. You might both relate. Not that I’m saying you are awkward but hey it’s okay if maybe you are, why are you looking at your shoes and squirming away from me, huh? Awkward is the new cool.
Until the Day I Die by Emily Carpenter. Everything is not as it seems on this all inclusive resort. The weirdness escalates until the mom on a getaway has to be rescued by her daughter. Yasss! It’s about time. You owe me! This time, you save me, babygirl, okay?
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. Got a booksmart cynical quipster at home? If you missed this tongue-in-cheek mystery, a wry send up of high school mom culture, read it quick before you see the movie. Or just go to the movie together, who am I to tell you what to do? I’m not your mother.
Educated by Tara Westover. She might learn something from this hardscrabble memoir. Like gratitude? Not that high school and college daughters aren’t grateful occasionally, like when the Uber bill or Sweetgreen bill comes in. But this is kind of like The Glass Castle for milennials (oh what the heck, read The Glass Castle too, you’ll be grateful you did.)
Hope you found something here that feels right for you and your daughter. And here’s another author #protip – whenever there’s a movie out that you want to see with her? Check and see if it was a book first. Then you can plan two things to do together that might be fun. Compare and contrast book versus movie over French fries! Just like school but with French fries!
Have you read anything together lately? Tell me about it! Inspire us all.
If we work at this, Buddy Reads are gonna be the new brunch! Buddy Reads are the new mani/pedi! Go Buddy Reads!
Kelly Simmons is the author of five novels, including the just released WHERE SHE WENT, which follows the twin paths of a helicopter mother and her missing college freshman daughter. Follow her on Instagram @kellyasimmons Or visit kellysimmonsbooks.com