Today, Tara from 25 Hour Books stops by to talk about love.
How often do adult readers disregard teen love in YA books? I know I've done it. The first example that comes to mind is the Twilight books and Bella's quick acceptance of giving her life to save Edward's. However, this isn't an uncommon theme in the fantasy/paranormal YA books I read. My first thought is always "They don't even know each other!" or "That isn't what love is!". Recently I took some time to look back on my own relationship history and how I felt at that age.
At 16, I met who I thought was the love of my life. It will be no surprise to some of my regular readers that he was an "alpha male". A tough hockey player who was extremely attractive and dangerously charming. He was also a bit of a player. Did that stop me from falling for him? No. We only knew each other for a matter of months, but I would have done anything for him. I fought with my parents. Defended him to my friends. As irrational as it was, I still loved him. He ended up breaking my heart, but we stayed friends and kept in touch until the summer we both got engaged to different people. Looking back on it, I know that I loved him even if it was in a young and reckless way.
At 18, I met the man who ended up being the love of my life. He was still in high school and I was in college. He came up to visit a friend of mine. A few months later he needed a date to prom and asked his friend to see if I would go. We lived hours apart and only saw each other on weekends. 4 months later we said "I love you". Due to our long distance relatioship I gave up all my weekends to see him. My parents were afraid that I missing out on the "college experience", but I didn't care because all I thought about was being with him. It was another form of young love and not unlike when I was in high school, I overlooked a lot of our flaws instead of dealing with them.
Now "love" means something completely different. I don't need to spend every waking minute with him. In fact I would probably kill him if we had to spend that much time together. As I'm writing this he is laughing at a hunting show that is insanely annoying. Now "love" means accepting each other for who we are. Being a team and pulling each other through the hard times. While our relationship is more mature at this stage of our lives, I don't think it takes away from our past feelings or makes them any less real. I'm sure 50 years from now I'll look back on our wedding day and wonder how I ever thought that it was most I could love him.
I now try to think about how the word "love" has changed over time for me before I judge too harshly the relationships in YA books. Just because it isn't the same as how I feel about my husband doesn't mean that what they have isn't a different form of love and just as meaningful and strong.