Gray Marie Cox recently put out a discussion post on her blog, Writing is Life, about romance in YA. I couldn't believe the timing, I had this post sitting here in my drafts for a couple days trying to get my thoughts together. What better motivation to finish it!!
Now, for the record, I love a good clean romance story. It is, in fact, my favorite reading genre. I have my own fleet of "ships" for various books and movies.
But...in the YA genre, is romance toted a little too much??
I believe that it has something to do with our culture and traditions.
|Source: Wikimedia Commons (Russavia)|
Since our grandparent's time (and even before), a lot of couples chose their spouses around the age of 16-25. The classic romance tale of the high school/college sweetheart was based in millions of couples' true stories. The circumstances are all unique, but it has proven timeless. It is still considered a mark of success if you marry and establish a family before 30.
But, as a result of that, it is now embedded into our culture that the age that YA aims for (15-30) is the prime dating age. The culture says that you should be thinking about choosing a spouse and getting your happy ever after (after a few handy dandy conflicts of course).
So it really shouldn't be a surprise that romance plot lines tends to dominate in this age-range. However, it has become much more noticeable in very recent times to the detriment of all other human interactions.
So what happened? Why is romance so much more prevalent?
As they say, "First comes love, then comes marriage, and then the baby carriage". Except that the order has been horribly mangled up.
All those horrible things that happened during high school in the 90s-00s are now permeated into the middle schools. And I do mean everything....
The worries about looks, boys/girls, and clothing starts...in elementary school. It seems that the goal of our world is to strip innocence from young boys and girls as soon as possible.
In fiction, romance is seen as a stabilizing influence from a bad family influence. Siblings? Conflict points to the 10th degree. Friends are only there to support the MCs as they have relationship drama. Current fiction trends uphold the happily-ever-after that leaves an eternal high note for the reader.
While every human wants a happily ever after, it doesn't come to some people. A human romance is not going to lead to eternal happiness. Everyone that has been married probably knows this already. If the goal is unending love, how does a finite human fulfill that?
Has our society become so lovesick and sex-crazed that we have forgotten to be human? I believe so.
Remember, the end of the story is supposed to bring resolution to conflict. A human romance doesn't always resolve conflicts - half the time, it creates more.
I've personally see friends who wound up meeting that special someone and they pull away. In reality, this is when friendships really matter. A romance, especially if it leads to marriage, is a big change for a person. That support network of friends and a stable family influence can really smooth that over. Let's also have more stories that go on after the marriage
A lot of people may say that we don't need "goody two-shoe" stories like that, that they're boring, etc. Looking at the bad fruits that current popular YA literature as well as other cultural influences, I say we need more of it, and quickly.
If not, our generation will be swept from the proverbial bed of roses to one of burning thorns.
P.S. My AMA went live yesterday! Here is the link: