Hi everyone! Today the amazing Estelle and Magan from Rather Be Reading are here to discuss Morgan Matson and their own awesome girl friendship. I got really emotional reading this piece, and I think it’s a beautiful tribute to Morgan’s themes and the power of her work to inspire self-discovery and great relationships.
And don’t forget to hop on over to today’s other post to take the “Which Morgan Matson Character Are You?” quiz for a chance to win a very special The Unexpected Everything prize pack!
On Morgan Matson and Friendship: Rather Be Reading Guest Post
We’re so excited to come out of “hiding” and be a part of Tiff’s Morgan Matson love fest. Morgan and her work are so intertwined into the very beginnings of Rather Be Reading – the blog we started in 2011 (after meeting once at a wedding). It’s fair to say her writing – at that point Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour and early galleys of Second Chance Summer – inspired us to get even more involved with the book community and commit to writing thoughtful content for our blog. We’ve loved following her career and are so amped that everyone will be reading new work from her this summer. (Seriously, The Unexpected Everything is perfect for travel!) Most of her books are grounded so much in friendship, and it seems fitting that we’re discussing that today – thanks to some awesome questions from the lovely, enthusiastic, and super smart Tiffanie [Editor’s note: ?]. We appreciate you following along!
How much have you changed since meeting each other?
Estelle:: Oh gosh, definitely. When I met Magan, I was one week away from getting married, I was stalled in a job that wasn’t fulfilling, and I hadn’t even started blogging yet. In the period of time I’ve known her, so much has changed, so much has happened and thinking about it makes me feel so grateful that she’s been around for all of that. We met at the perfect time.
Magan: Ah! My husband I were going through trying to get pregnant and start our family. I was in the upswing of establishing a successful business. Life was busy and full, but I had so much time for reading and was plowing through books. I was reading maybe a book and a half a day back then (oh, those were the days!). My reading life has transformed as much as my personal one — we’ve been foster parents and have two biological daughters now. Estelle and I have gone through some major, major transitions and she’s helped me stay grounded through them all.
Did you have a lot of close girl friends growing up?
Estelle: Yes! In fact, I’m still very close with two girls I know from my kindergarten class. I was very lucky to have a solid, loyal core group since I was young (even if the friendships sort of ebbed and flowed during those years). I value long-term relationships so much. It takes a lot of work, but it’s so amazing to turn to your friend and say: “Do you remember when I made that Christmas hat in 2nd grade?” (I just asked my friend that question today, and she forgot. Bad example. haha)
Magan: I did, but I’d say it really took until late middle school or early high school for me to be okay with who I was and to begin to realize I wasn’t going to be, nor did I need to be, best friends with everyone. There were some definite bullies at my school and I tried to balance being on their good side and being friends with the people they picked on for a long while. Eventually I just quit caring whether or not I became one of their targets and sort of narrowed down my friendships to a really key group of girls that have I have been close with ever since.
What are the hallmarks of finding and keeping a girl friend? What made you guys continue your friendship?
Estelle: Communication, openness, and finding a zone with this person where you can be completely comfortable to share who you are (even all the crappy parts). I truly believe (especially having a year where I’ve seen a few more recent friendships breakdown and another long-term) there has to be some kind of understanding that you aren’t always going to be your best self. You can’t always be a perfect friend. It’s about finding that middle ground, and being accepting. Knowing that a person is on your team.
Magan: I think friendship feels a lot like a marriage. It’s about dedication and sticking by someone’s side through thick and thin. It’s about communication and honesty even when you have some tough things to say and the conversation isn’t going to be easy. For me, it’s not about convenience, but working through the difficulties to really embrace someone.
Estelle and I essentially birthed a child together — Rather Be Reading — and it was always a common ground for us. Our friendship began because of our mutual interests, but has far surpassed those things and morphed into daily conversations and check-ins, even if they’re just “Hi, how are you?” or “Happy Friday!” Now that we’ve closed a chapter on RBR, I really feel like it’s more evident that our friendship is more than just books and blogging. I’m not reading at the same pace that I was and I can’t keep up with things as well anymore, but that’s not really the focus of our everyday talks. My brother’s engagement, silly pictures of my girls, talks about my bangs, and what makeup we’re loving most right now are random pieces of conversation from just this past week.
Looking at Morgan’s books, especially Second Chance Summer, what are the things you think stand out more now with the benefit of time and hindsight?
Estelle: In the past few months, I’ve developed this crazy fear about my parents disappearing. Rereading Second Chance Summer and just finishing The Unexpected Everything, my god, the realizations these characters have about enjoying time with their family members when they have it – hit me hard. As a teen, I was just like them. I rushed through family time to get to the next best thing… and now I value the time I get to spend with my parents so, so much. As far as friendship goes: the importance of forgiveness.
Magan: I see them so differently now that I am a parent. I was so emotionally invested in Morgan’s books when I began reading her work, but now that I’ve become someone who has children and could possibly experience the loss of my husband and their father, the closeness and tight-knit family aspects of Morgan’s work really stand out even more. It’s always amazing to focus on the love story in a book, but I appreciate so much that Morgan really takes you through some of life’s most profound, life-changing moments.
Morgan’s books all take place in the summer; why is summer magical to you?
Estelle: Even when I was young, summer felt like the best time to regroup. I’ve always felt more inspired and the happiest when it’s warm outside, I’m wearing flip flops, and I’m about to go swimming in the pool or the ocean. Time slows down, and unlike Christmas (my favorite holiday), there are THREE months available to celebrate.
Magan: Summer has always been the time I have felt most free (though if I’m being completely honest, I hate the heat). I love the luxury of the long days, the way life seems to still a little bit, and really do enjoy some quality time at the pool with a good book. I absolutely love traveling so we do try to fit in a summer trip and experiencing somewhere new or visiting a favorite place is really special to me.
Why do you think Morgan’s work speaks to us as adults?
Estelle: There’s kind of two sides of the coin here. Reading YA as an adult means having time to reflect on once was, and also being reminded that the conflicts and drama of teen life don’t necessarily end when you’re a teen. I like both those sides. It’s important to remember where you came from, and it’s great to have this wisdom after experiencing certain things. Morgan’s work enforced (for me) the important things in life – girlfriends, family, good dessert, and making the most of your summer. There’s nothing more relatable than that.
Magan: Morgan’s work is so special to me because I can see myself in so many characters — I see the Magan that once was, bright-eyed and ready to tackle the great unknown. I find myself in the parent I want to be and the relationships I want to have with my children. Friendship transcends time so I feel her focus on how important it is, really in some way in all of her work, always draws me in. I love that her books are so lengthy because there’s such a complete picture of where she wants to take her readers.
Magan and Estelle co-founded Rather Be Reading in 2011. The blog gracefully closed at the beginning of 2015, but the two are chatting about a new project. For now, Magan shares her photography at Urban Grey Photography and tweets @magansays; Estelle has not been blogging anywhere for five months and is still not sure what to make of that, but she tweets/instagrams @thatsostelle. In 2014, Magan and Estelle hit a major friendship milestone – they saw each other 3 times in one year.
Thank you SO much, Estelle and Magan, for sharing your thoughts on Morgan and your own girl friendship. The effort you make in your relationship is inspiring – and definitely makes me want to reach out to my BFFs more (I’m working on this with Skype/FaceTime dates that are regularly scheduled in a calendar – it’s been helping a lot!).
Were you a fan of Rather Be Reading? Isn’t it LOVELY to have E & M’s unique voices back together again? What is one tip you would give to other readers about how to keep up a good friendship? Let us know in the comments!