June 8, 2019

By Renée Lichtenhan

Some of us who are aware that today, June 8th, is National Best Friends Day, are traveling down Memory Lane getting nostalgic about our favorite BFF memories. This cliché, Memory Lane, is ironic to me, because I honestly lived on a street called Memory Lane, and it is here that I met my first childhood friend. I was only three at the time, but I still remember the day clearly.

I was the new kid on the block. My mother and my soon-to-be-best-friend’s mother were getting to know each other. I hid behind my mom’s legs, peeking out at a little girl about my age, hiding behind her mom’s legs. When the little girl and I made eye contact, we smiled shyly and hid again. This went on for a while until I gathered enough courage to step out and ask her, “Do you want to be my best friend?” She shrugged and said, “Sure.” She took my hand, and off we went, connected by the hip for the next ten years. Together, we grew from playing with baby dolls to riding bikes, and from watching cartoons to swooning over teen heart-throbs plastered on our bedroom walls. We had a special way of dissolving into hysterical laughter over everything and nothing at all.

When we were both twelve, my family moved across the country. I didn’t know how I would do life without her. I doubted that letters or expensive long-distance phone calls could fill the gaping void in me, but I hoped it might. On the day I moved away, I waved to her from the back window of the station wagon until she became a speck through a sheen of tears, then disappeared.

In the years that have passed since then, I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve seen each other. Yet, each time, we slipped right into easy conversation and we still laughed until we cried.

This early childhood friendship helped me knit together the fictional friendship between the pair of BFFs, Carabelle and Gracie, characters in my soon-to-be-released middle-grade novel, CARABELLE. Like me, the main character, Carabelle, is torn away from her best friend, Gracie. Unlike me, Carabelle finds herself trapped in a foster home with the school bully, Drake Duff, and becomes a prisoner to her own bitterness and anger. The only thing that can set her free is the power of forgiveness. And the only way to find it is by exploring some hard, painful truths that will tie her to Drake forever.

To get updates on the release of CARABELLE and the upcoming middle-grade novels in the “I Am Girl” series, visit and subscribe. After that, go on and reach out to your BFF on this National Best Friends Day.