Friday, February 5, 2010

Romance Versus Responsibility in YA*

Ah, stupid teenagers... thinking love is all pure and true and magical. Why can't they just be bitter and disillusioned like normal people?

I keep coming across opinion pieces discussing the perils of all the romance in YA, and how it is silly/stupid/damaging to young women. How too much of female centric YA is about love and guys and how bad that is for the self esteem of every teen girl, which is the most fragile thing in nature, and must be guarded like the mythical mcguffin of every fantasy novel- when we all know it will fall into the hands of some dark lord or other eventually, anyway.

Romance is for teenagers. The way Christmas presents are for children. Yes, we still get some when we're older, but it never holds that same mystery and wonder as it did in the beginning. There's a reason Juliet was all of 13- any older and she would have thought about it for a minute.
"Kill myself?... I mean, you're cute and all, but damn, I have to think about that one."

Make her a 30 year old, and it just doesn't fly, the way the woman in Braveheart seemed WAAAAAY to old to be living unmarried in some pastoral hut village when the clearly 40something Mel rides back into town and woos her. That never played right for me, because were both just too stinking old.

Your teen years are the only chance you get to fall in love for the first time, all fresh and optimistic.
At my age, if you're still out there dating, it's because you're a little messed up, or something a little messed up happened to you. Now, that doesn't mean you don't find happiness. You probably end up making smarter choices. It just isn't as magical watching a jaded 30 something chick lit heroine learn to love again as it is to see a 15 year old have that first experience of "I really like him, and he really likes me back!!!"
In that way, romance was made for teenagers.

Yes, there is a metric ton of romantic YA being backhoe'd into bookstores every week. Yes, agents you get a lot of queries for YAs with paranormal love stories. That's what teenagers like to read. Always? No. A lot of the time? Yes!

I don't think books about relationships, or romance, or even sex are damaging to girls. It's the "Happily Ever After" part that requires some caution. We have to remember that we're telling a story, not the whole story. People of every age get the difference between fantasy and reality.

*Disclaimer- written by a girl who met her love at 19, would have married him that day, and has been wildly in love with him every day of the almost-11 years since.

** also, thanks for the opinions on the posters!


Yes, it's me. said...

Apparently your blog was deleted from my list. I kept wondering why you weren't updating. My bad. HA!

I'm not jaded. I just haven't fallen in love yet. Sad truth. Maybe one day though!

Lily Cate said...

I'm not on Gigi's list, either, but since she doesn't post anymore, meh.

And no, you're not jaded at all, but you would still look at it from a totally different perspective than a starry eyed teenager.

Ocean Girl said...

How old did you say you are again?

Paul Michael Murphy said...

I agree.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

I like this. Really smart.

sruble said...

Excellent post! It's easy for adults to forget that rush of love or even a crush when they were teens. Not every book needs to be about romance or love. But even if it's not, it's ok if there's a bit of romance hidden in the corner.

As unrealistic as it is, it would be great if there could always be a happy ending, but since that can't happen, it works as long as there's some hope at the end.

OneTonPotato said...

So is the Guy in this....The Dark Lord.

Ok, your right...we are.

Lily Cate said...

Ocean Girl- I had to do some quick math there, and actually, I met him almost 11 years ago! End of March, '99. Yeah, I'm 30 now.