Thursday, June 13, 2013

Romance, Ew-Lah-Lah

Thursday, June 13, 2013
Happily-Ever-After... Can we not?
When I finished Austenland by Shannon Hale, I thought it had been a really fun read... but I was unsatisfied with the ending. (This is a little spoilery, but not too badly, so bear with me.) It was so close to ending with the protagonist walking away, single and happy with herself, but no. The book can't just end there- she has to have someone fall in love with her.

This bugged me. A lot.  Enough so that I even mentioned it in my review. I just couldn't help thinking: Why wasn't finding herself enough? Why could Jane only be truly happy if she had a significant other in her life?

Young Love
Austenland is an adult novel, but this problem is present in YA books, too. Try to think of a YA novel without romance. Even if it's not central to the plot, there's usually a love arc. 

Now first romances are a huge part of young adulthood, so it's understandable that a lot of authors want to include it in their books. But does it have to be included in every single one?

Romance is okay.
Before I continue, I just want to make this clear: There is nothing wrong with enjoying love stories. It doesn't mean you're a sap, weak, or a bad feminist. I've swooned over Mr. Darcy and have plenty of book boy crushes. But it's all about perspective. A problem arises when we treat romantic love as a be-all, end-all.  

So let's stop over-glorifying romance, shall

we?
Romance is fine, romance is just dandy, but can we stop treating it like it is the ONE ultimate goal in every person's life? As though it were something that one just can't live without?

When 9/10 books feature a romantic arc, or end with two characters waltzing off into the sunset, finally fulfilled after their lives as miserable single people, it perpetuates this idea in our culture that romantic love is everything. A person can be perfectly happy single, though you wouldn't know that from the majority of YA books.

As I said, I love romance, but there are other kinds of love (familial, friendly) that can and should be the focus for once. It'd be a refreshing change to read a book that has an awesome platonic friendship, where the main character saves the day without falling in love. Who knows, maybe one of you will write that book.

Thoughts? Comments? I'd love to hear 'em!

3 comments:

  1. I agree about that. There should be a diffrent view on love thats not all romantic. However I want to say something. As someone who has a boyfriend I've found something rare that we interact like best best friends even though we are lovers and have that side to our relationship but we come off like best best friends as well.

    That is the kind of romance I think we need more of in YA, if we can't get normal friendship focus then we might as well get the best friend side of romance. Most YA books are about the first love arc with mysterious brooding characters. Very rarely do we get a couple that has been together for months and has a familiarity best friend feel to them

    Its not the romance thats bad, its the love triangles and "just met him for the first time" stuff that is getting over run to death,

    I can think of three books that while they have love (or lust) in them approch it diffrently

    Sarah I'd suggest if you want to find a book with a diffrent look on the romance I recommend looking into Adian chambers books: http://www.goodreads.com/series/92025-the-dance-sequence

    My favorite of his books (and the one you should start with) is The toll bridge, Also in now I know the chracters don't end up together.

    If your not sold on that heres some qoutes

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/15357-few-pleasures-for-the-true-reader-rival-the-pleasure-of

    http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/168796-how-do-i-think-of-you-as-someone-i-want

    I'm re reading these books and its an interesting look at what YA literature COULD be

    Also
    -All male protagonists
    -not afraid to get dirty with sex, religion, questions,
    - now I know has a mystery
    -Strong female protagonists


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  2. "Why wasn't finding herself enough?" Amen! I totally agree! Thanks for writing this. I love a good romance, but I hate when authors use "girl gets guy" as synonymous with "everything turns out okay." You should try Graceling- I just read & reviewed and thought it was a good balance to the other books where ROMANCE IS ALL. -Kate

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    1. I LOVE Graceling- it's one of my favorite books. I'm actually doing a reread of it soon for book club next month. :)

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