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Tag: Love

Love Triangles in YA: Is There Hope After All?

ed jake bella

Let’s face it, there are a lot of love triangles in YA literature and many readers either love them or hate them.  I first saw a spike in the love triangle concept when Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight came out in the mid 2000s.  The Edward, Bella, Jacob combination was one that I—and many fans— found compelling.  I was so excited to find out which guy Bella would pick.  The choice that she made definitely added to the suspense of the plot.  Unfortunately, she didn’t pick the guy that I liked, so I was devastated.  Why?  Well, what is it about the one girl, two guy factor that is destined to ruin our world?  Most obviously we will have to make a choice and one guy will end up being the loser.  Portraying love triangles in YA novels is a good way to show how hard it is for teens to stay neutral and how they might have to make a list of pros and cons in order to make their decision.

Let’s look at the choices involved in most love triangles.  Often, there’s the hot bad boy who makes all the girls drool.  You know this guy, he’s almost always a jerk or has obsessive tendencies.  The bad boy might be a chosen because he seems exciting and adventurous.  His good looks are fine, but beyond his looks there is a possessively driven heart.  Then, there’s the adorable best friend type, a dependable guy who usually melts our hearts with his sweetness. Each appeal to characters—and readers—for different reasons.

The good news is that love triangles have been evolving and changing over the years since Twilight and a few have redeemed my faith in them.  Here’s what I found out:  Some love triangles have two good guys, but one is just a little sweeter and bakes really good bread.

A Bad Romance– Love Gone Wrong in Teen Lit

By CMEarnest (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By CMEarnest via Wikimedia Commons
Springtime is when love is in the air.  New relationships are blooming, the warmer weather drives people outdoors and puts everyone in a better mood, and it just seems like the perfect time to fall in love…

But what happens when you don’t want to fall in love?  When you just want to snarkily smirk at those silly people holding hands and picking flowers?  How do you avoid, nay how do you embrace the idea that falling in love is just not for you..?

Well, one good way is to read books about love gone wrong.  Luckily, teen lit is filled with excellent examples of books about all the ways love can be so harmful to your well-being.  From bad breakups to unrequited crushes, check out the list below if you want to fall in love with a bad romance!

Star-Crossed Love

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The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones

Cassandra comes from a long line of vampire-like creatures who need human tears to survive rather than blood.  Cassandra is very good at collecting tears by being the shoulder for her friends to cry on, and even volunteering as a grief counselor.  However, Cassandra is growing tired of her life and wants to be human, especially when she begins to fall in love with Scott.

Interview with Julie Halpern, Author of The F-It List

The F It ListJulie Halpern has a knack of taking you back to high school by pulling out our best and worst memories of that time through her writing.  Her spot on comedic tone and skilful weaving of a story,  perfectly channels the essence of the high school experience. She has  been recognized on YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults lists twice: in 2010 for Into the Wild Nerd Yonder and 2013 for Have a Nice Day.

The F-It List is Halpern’s fifth novel for teens, and it has laugh out loud humor while at the same time delivering an emotional punch to the gut.  The F-It List hit bookshelves this past Tuesday, November 12, and centers on the friendship of Alex and Becca.  When Alex’s father passed away, her best friend Becca made a poor choice and slept with Alex’s then boyfriend.  Needing a break from the drama, Alex spends a summer keeping away from Becca.  When she is ready to forgive at the start of the next school year, Alex discovers that Becca has cancer.  Together they rebuild their friendship while trying to complete Becca’s bucket list, or as they call it the F-It list.  Through this process Alex discovers a lot about grieving, love, friendship, and even herself.  Visit Julie Halpern’s website, juliehalpern.com, to learn more about her work.

This is your fifth novel for teen readers.  Has your writing style or writing process changed since your first novel was published?  What has stayed the same?

I don’t know how much my style has changed, except that (hopefully) it has improved! Practice makes perfect, and all. I have had a similar writing process for all five books, where I tend to write the first few chapters and then let them sit for a bit before I continue writing the book. I don’t outline, but I do make a list of important events (sometimes the list looks neat, sometimes it’s randomly-placed post-its) that I need to include. I tend to write my books on a schedule, meaning that the events in the book take place over a certain amount of time and I need to figure out how to make the schedule work in order to keep the book organized. Otherwise, I write my books through the eyes of the main character, and the characters dictate the words. Also, in terms of process, I hand-write all of my books into notebooks with a pen, and when I finish the first draft I have to type it all in (which becomes my second draft).  By now I know that I usually require two or three revisions after the second draft before I’m comfortable sending it to my editor. No one sees it before then.

With A Little Help From My Friends: Altruism in YA Lit

I’m a sucker for the holidays. I love the idea of getting together with family and friends and spending time with them. It’s the time of year when people are supposed to be more kind and charitable towards each other.  The tradition of everyone sharing something they are grateful for on Thanksgiving made me think of some quirky YA books that have featured altruistic characters who engage in random acts of kindness or those with great feel-good endings–the kind of story where everyone pulls together at the end, reminiscent of those old 1930s Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney films where they all put on a show (no, I’m not that old but I am a huge movie fan). Several of my favorite YA books like this came out last year, and two in particular were on the 2011 Best Fiction for Young Adults list.

Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick features Amber Appleton, a very quirky 17-year-old with an outsize personality, unrelenting optimism, and vocal faith both in people and in Jesus (whom she calls “JC” in her chatty prayers) that masks a life that’s not as optimistic as it seems.

She and her mom are homeless and secretly living on an old school bus until her alcoholic mom can find a new boyfriend with an apartment, or they can save up enough money to move. Despite this, Amber’s always thinking of others. She visits the elderly; tutors English-language learners at the Korean Catholic Church; protects her best friend Ricky Roberts when schoolmates try to manipulate him because he’s autistic; and befriends Private Jackson, a lonely haiku poet and Vietnam vet. Amber’s voice is very distinct because she talks with a kind of Sixties slang (says Word! and True! often).

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdhw5YJ83Og&w=560&h=315]

Then something catastrophic occurs, her world is shattered, and she’s thrown for a loop and loses her belief in God and will to go on. Those whom she’s touched are spurred to try to give back some of the support she’s given them in an very inspiring bring-down-the house ending that really shows humanity at its best. This book could have come across as overly sentimental, sickly sweet, or preachy but it avoids this because of how real and authentic Amber’s voice is. This very enjoyable book is even more fun to listen to than it is to read.