Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Book Brat's View: Romances in YA Novels

L is for the way you look at me, O is for the only one I see, V is very, very extraordinary, and E is even more than anyone that you can adore…

Love is an ever pervasive plotline in fiction. Will she get the guy? Won’t she? Please dear God will she wise up and realize that she’s better off single? Especially in young adult novels, we see romances of all sorts – love triangles, forbidden love, forever love, instalove, etc etc etc. The list goes on. But what do we learn from these stories? Can Twilight serve as relationship advice to preteens? Should we take harmful relationships with a grain of salt and let them serve as examples of true love?

I am not ashamed to say that I didn’t start dating until I was in college, and even then I had more sour apples than good ones. Not boys that were abusive, mind you, but boys that just weren’t for me. I’m still not ready for a committed relationship at age 24 and most of my friends are in the same boat. I read young adult novels and see tales of fifteen year olds in relationships that were ~meant to be~. Many times these same relationships have the telltale signs of domestic abuse – controlling, manipulative, obsessive, yet these girls persevere because we are supposed to believe as readers that boys controlling your life and watching you sleep is romantic.

Um…ew. No thanks.

This has been an argument time and time again, that some young adult novels are promoting bad relationships. To an extent, maybe this is true, but maybe instead young readers, with help from their parents, teachers, and other adult figures in their lives can learn from these and take away healthy dating tips. We can learn from these books about creeps and guys to stay away from. Is there a boy in your life that follows you around staring at you all day? Sweetie, you probably need to tell your parents about that one. A guy trying to kill you out of love? Call 911 or 999 or 119 or whatever depending on your country.

Surround yourself with smart friends who have your best interests at heart. If you hear them saying you should go for the stalker because he clearly loves you, please back away slowly.

Maybe what we can take away from some young adult novels is learning more about standing up for ourselves and not repeating the mistakes these imaginary characters may or may not have made. Domestic abuse in any of its forms is not alright, and please, if your boyfriend or husband or anyone does anything to harm you or make you feel uncomfortable, tell someone – a friend, a parent, the police, someone that can help. You can stand up for yourself. Obsession and stalking is not love!

Please let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your comments and views!


  1. I totally agree! What writers put in young adult "romance" novels gives the impression that the stalker-ish things they do are a sign of "true love." They leave out the respect and the fact that caring about someone means putting their wants and needs ahead of your own. Yes, it is romantic to read a book about a love that is destined to be, but authors should make it real. Can't a main love interest be the guy that the reader respects?

  2. Hello Book Brats, Please stop by my blog, there awaits a congratulatory.
    Now the post: I'm not a YA reader but i do follow a few and I read comments and articles. I've read some readers state concerns about the story lines of some novels for YA readers. I agree it definitely needs changing. lets hope some of the authors are getting the message.

  3. You are totally right. I had no idea what love was even after being in a long-term relationship from age 15-18. I thought love was about pain and sacrifice and if he didn't seem to be totally into you, that was normal, that that was the best it could be. I only discovered true love when I met my fiancée, and we've happily engaged after a 3 year long-distance relationship (UK-Australia).

    I love books that represent real versions of love: people who learn about each other and fall in love like normal people. I can't stand all this teenage mooning crap. It gives the impression that hormone-fuelled, insecure, OMGSHINYTRUELOVE, loving him because he is gorgeous with no personality and because he's arrogant and 'overprotective'/controlling - is a forever love. And it's just not.

  4. I think love is an important theme in YA novels because YA novels are intended for you know, teens and stuff and that's the age when people really start dating and stuff, so it's important that they can relate to the stuff in books.

    On that note, however, I do notice a lot of books aren't portraying realistic teenage love relationships at all. Some of the YA relationships are ridiculous like insta-love and some are creepy, with stalker like characters, but I think most teens are smart enough to figure out that these are unrealistic representations of boy-girl relationships. Contemporary YA seems to have more down-to-earth relationships, but I would love for the sci-fi/dystopian/paranormal/fantasy YA genre to also start incorporating more realistic love relationships ... Just because it's a fantasy or whatever, doesn't mean that some things can't be realistic!

  5. @Sidne,the BCR
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  6. You're so right about abuse not being okay. If there is abuse in a YA novel, it needs to be handled well and have the character realize that it's not a form of love.

    Also, I’m a new follower—wonderful blog! Stop by my blog and follow me too? :)

  7. You said it so much better than I could. I felt like that when I was teaching and my 15 year old students were comparing their boyfriends to Edward from Twilight. Those young men needed anger management but the girls were this is love...look at Edward. Ew.

  8. Couldn't agree more! I can't remember where I read it, but another blog I was reading mentioned her tendency to 'age up' characters, and I think when I feel a romance is too 'big' for a character, I do this too. The insta-love books drive me crazy, however I then look at my niece and remember that she's been in and out of about 7 relationships in the last 6 months alone, so perhaps it's more the 'insta-love that is true love' that gets me. I am all for love at first sight, but it's not that common!

    I do wish more 'broken hearts' were found occasionally in YA - it happens far more often, yet is so infrequently shown with real impact.

    Also poor Ned. <3 Pushing Daisies!