Making friends, keeping friends, helping friends (or being helped by them), singling out a best friend - if these aren't the main focus of the story, they're usually a subtheme.
With most of the middle grade stories I've read recently, the friendships are always centered around school.
How well does that reflect real life? Even keeping in mind the real life changes among generations?
I'm of the generation that was shooed outside to play on our own. Friendships developed around kids in the neighborhood, no matter what age. We didn't all go to the same schools, though, so most kids had a different set of friends at school. And then came home to play with the neighborhood friends.
Nowadays, parents arrange playgroups of kids around the same age, who may or may not live within a few blocks. Next is preschool, so another set of friends, again of the same age. School may separate out some friends and add new friends.
If books are to be believed, once you start school, you leave all your other friends behind and focus only on school friends. Is that the case in real life? Or is this just for the convenience of the story?
At what stage do friends become friends because of shared interests, rather than because of location? When I was in elementary and high school, I was the only one of my friends who read science fiction. I didn't make friends who shared my interests until long after I had graduated.
Some middle grade and YA stories list friends by their characteristics, rather than as a person. One friend is fashion-savvy, another is the sports expert, yet another is bookish while one likes to cook, etc. Just writing that sentence reminded me of the ponies in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Though I guess friends can be friends because they like each other, not for what they can do for each other or what interests they have in common.
What have you noticed about friends and friendships in middle grade and/or YA stories? What ones do you like?