The Ten Most Heartwarming Platonic Relationships in Books

Warning: This post may contain spoilers. 

Top Ten Tuesday (TTT) is a weekly meme hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s TTT topic is Platonic Relationships in Books. I can think of several ways to branch out from this topic (e.g. top ten books featuring platonic relationships, top ten types of relationships featured in books), but I’ve chosen to gone with the top ten pairings featured in novels.

This post reminds me why I like reading children’s fiction so much. Save for the Sebastian St Cyr series, every other pairing listed is of the children’s fiction/YA genre. Call me cheesy, but relationships are one of the key things I look out for when deciding which books are five-star reads (i.e. those that I will read over and over again.) Reading about these ten pairings never fails to brighten my day, and I hope you’ll agree that they’re some of the most memorable in fiction!

1. Dawan and Kwai (from Sing to the Dawn)

This pairing takes the top spot on this list because I especially admired how Kwai sacrificed himself (in a way) to let Dawan take the scholarship. Yes, Dawan won the scholarship fair and square, but everyone who had a say in anything (i.e. the males) were all rooting for Kwai. Ho portrays the relationship between the siblings fairly enough: Kwai is of course somewhat bitter at Dawan at first and doesn’t concede to her immediately, but ultimately sibling love wins out and he speaks up for Dawan. Sometimes I wonder: In his position, would I do the same? 

2. Tom and Willie (from Goodnight, Mister Tom)

I really enjoyed how the relationship between Willie and Tom grew throughout the book, and how they changed each other for the better. Tom grew into the role of the caring parent Willie never had, providing him with the love necessary to coax Willie out of his traumatic childhood. In doing so, Tom learned to move on from the loss of his wife and son.

3. Charlotte and Wilbur (from Charlotte’s Web)

I never cry when reading, but this book was an exception. Charlotte proved loyal to Wilbur throughout and never asked for anything in return. The part that touched me most was how Charlotte continued to spin a word-web praising Wilbur even though she was nearing the end of her life and was exhausted. Even though Charlotte’s life may have been short, their friendship is undoubtedly one of the most enduring in literature. 

4. The Baudelaire siblings (from A Series of Unfortunate Events)

Faced with one unfortunate event after another, buffeted from one place to another with their living relatives murdered and only friends kidnapped, the Baudelaires have only themselves to go on. They work together as well as siblings can get: They acknowledge each other’s strengths and offer the support necessary for them to survive the ordeals. And with Sunny growing up throughout the book, Violet and Klaus learn that it’s eventually time to stop thinking of her as a baby, but as someone who can share their burdens. 

“Who will take care of us out there?” Klaus said, looking out on the flat horizon. 
“Nobody,” Violet said. “We’ll have to take care of ourselves. We’ll have to be self-sustaining.”
“Like the hot air mobile home,” Klaus said, “that could travel and survive all by itself.”
“Like me,” Sunny said, and abruptly stood up. Violet and Klaus gasped in surprise as their baby sister took her first wobbly steps, and then walked closely beside her, ready to catch her if she fell. 
But she didn’t fall. Sunny took a few more self-sustaining steps, and then the three Baudelaires stood together, casting long shadows across the horizon in the dying light of the sunset.” 

5. Anne and Marilla (from Anne of Green Gables)

The relationship between Anne and Marilla is a little like that of Willie and Tom: Marilla initially wants to send Anne back, but eventually softens towards her and sees her as a own daughter. Anne remains ever grateful throughout the book and eventually decides to sacrifice her scholarship to take care of Marilla in her declining health. The growth of their relationship—of gruff Marilla softening and admitting she loves Anne— is the highlight of the book for me.

6. Katie and Lynn (from Kira-Kira)

The main relationship featured in Kira-Kira is that of the two sisters Katie and Lynn. But this isn’t the classic story of a person living in her elder sibling’s shadow and trying to find her own path in life. Yes, Katie looks up to her elder sister Lynn, but she doesn’t resent Lynn for it, and neither does Lynn look down on her for being “inferior”. It is because of Katie that Lynn continues to stay strong during her final months, even when her friends leave her; it is because of Lynn that Katie appreciates the kira-kira in life even after Lynn’s death. 

7. Travis and Yeller (from Old Yeller)

I could fully relate to the development of the relationship between Travis and Yeller in this story. Travis starts off disliking Yeller but Yeller eventually grows on him, even refusing to give him up when his former rightful owner comes looking for him. Something like this happened to me a few years back as well: I chanced upon an injured lovebird which had clearly escaped from its previous owner and intended to let it go as soon as it recovered. But somewhere along the way, it grew on me. I looked forward to all its habits I had previously eschewed— its chirping at seven in the morning, its plucking of the bars of the cage, its shedding feathers onto our living room floor. Its owner never came back for it, but I wouldn’t have given it up for the world. Perhaps that’s why I like Old Yeller so much: it’s a way for me to remember my pet after its death.

8. Jess and Leslie (from Bridge to Terabithia)

This pairing brings to mind the song “For Good” from the musical Wicked. Both Jess and Leslie change for the better through their friendship: Jess gains confidence from his artistic abilities, which are able to shine through Leslie’s imagination; Leslie develops strength and courage through Jess’s encouragement. Indeed, their friendship is the driving force for Bridge to Terabithia. 

9. The Giver and Jonas (from The Giver)

I’ve always seen the Giver more as a father figure to Jonas than Jonas’s assigned father. Being the only people in the entire community who understand what it’s like to carry the burden of past memories, understand the complexity of feelings, understand what it’s like to see colour, must give them a certain bond that Jonas can’t share with his friends and assigned family. 

10. Sebastian and the Earl of Hendon (from the Sebastian St Cyr series)

The Sebastian St Cyr series has cropped up on quite a few of my TTT lists with good reason. Plot aside, the characters are well-fleshed out and believable, and the relationship between Sebastian and his father-in-name, the Earl of Hendon, is a prime example of this. Their father-and-son relationship is a complex one: the result of an affair between his mother and her groom, Sebastian has never been the Earl’s favourite son, but he has somehow landed as his heir following the untimely deaths of his two older half-brothers. The Earl does everything in his power to prevent Sebastian from marrying his first love, whom the Earl considers as below Sebastian’s station, which further strains the relationship between the two. But, at the end of of it all, both son and father look beyond their pride, admit that they love each other and reconcile.  

Have you read these novels? What are some of your favourite platonic pairings? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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