Sunday, September 12, 2010

What is it about love stories?

Adele at Persnickety Snark doesn't quite buy the idea of love at first sight, and thinks YA literature is suffering from unrealistic ideas about love. As for me, I'm a sucker for a good love story. There has to be a reason that romance sells, and some of the best contemporary YA literature combines good writing with quirky characters falling in love.

That said, the characters aren't always the obvious 'hotties'. The last 3 books I read were: Beatle Meets Destiny, Six Impossible Things and Graffiti Moon. They're all great books, and they're all love stories. But they're not just love stories. The characters must also deal with other issues. And though these teenagers are modest, likeable and endearing, their flaws are revealed as well as their strengths.

It's the combination of characterisation, real-life problems, and fabulous writing that makes for a book you want to read.

Of course we want love to triumph in the end, but it triumphs only when the characters admit their mistakes, and become stronger, better people as a result of doing so.

Unrealistic? It may be, but is there something wrong with a bit of escapism in fiction? And isn't it good for our souls to believe in love?


  1. I agree, Robyn. I read her post yesterday, and though I somewhat agreed with the "falling in love at first sight" part, that definitely wouldn't turn me off when reading a book, if things were set up right. (He's hot, now we're kissing and declaring our undying love for each other? No. But, there's something about him, I can feel it, and then slowly things begin to happen? Yes.) The reason I read is to be swept up in something different than my usual life, so I don't mind, as long as it's believable, having that element in the story.

    I like what you said, "It's the combination of characterisation, real-life problems, and fabulous writing that makes for a book you want to read." So true! You said it perfectly.

  2. Oh, Robyn! I hadn't read Adele's article so you gave me 2 interesting blog posts instead of one!

    This is another topic where I feel slightly unable to comment, I suppose, since I'm still a teen. Like, I believe in love in first sight. I still remember the first time I saw my current boyfriend (we were in 6th grade, and we hated each other in a pull-my-pigtails sort of way) but we both always knew that we would end up together. I personally think that I'm going to marry him one day, but it seems like most teens think that, and in a rational sort of way, I wonder if that's just my naive age talking.

    That's why I excuse love-at-first-sight fairytale sorts of romances in YA. That's the only age group where I think it could actually be plausible. Lots of teens believe in love at first sight, and many of them view their less-than-ideal teen boyfriend/girlfriend as perfect, if that makes sense.

    I'd really like to know if Adele is an adult or not. If she is, I think that would explain why she feels that way. It seems like most adults are more rational about love, and she might be imposing her rational adult thoughts onto less-rational teens. (Oh, how it kills me to call myself and my age group irrational.)

    Oh, and as for the hottie thing. Maybe I'm just weird (feel free to let me know), but I think my boyfriend is super gorgeous, but he's not someone that the girls fawn over. So, basically, I'm the only one who sees him that way. Logically, that would mean he's not a super-hottie, but I still view him that way, so if I was the 1st person protag of a YA novel, I'd still refer to him as a hottie. If that makes sense.

  3. I don't think it's only teens who believe in love at first sight. I believe in it too. I fell in love at 18, and married the guy nearly 4 years later. Next year will be our 30th anniversary. The obsessive nature of the love changes, and turn into something more realistic, but I don't think there's necessarily anything irrational about a lasting relationship. I also think Adele's post serves as a warning - sometimes an idealised, romanticised version of love can keep people stuck in a destructive relationship; they stay because they don't want to give up on that dream. I also think that 'love at first sight' isn't in itself an actual, lasting love, but the recognition of the potential for that to occur. It feels like love because the recognition occurs at a very deep emotional, perhaps even spiritual level. Sub-conscious, of course. And of course you think your guy's a hottie and would describe him as such. Beauty really is 'in the eye of the beholder'.

  4. And by the way, I'm really glad I fell in love so young. I think by, say, my late twenties, I might have been to cynical to fall in love at all. I'd have been thinking with my head, not my heart. I think falling in love is fine, as long as you can remain rational enough to end it if it's really not working, and as long as you can retain a strong sense of who you are.

  5. Oh my goodness, Robyn, I want to print out your comments and stick them on my wall. Talk about insightful! I agree with absolutely everything that you said.