Hello hello all! Although every blogger and their mother has written a blog post on this/mentioned it/screamed about it in comments, I thought that I would tackle it as well!
It has become very evident to all us bookish nerds that practically every YA book- especially contemporary YA- contains romance and insta-love and teens who apparently have found their “”soulmate””. And honestly, it’s kind of awful. I like romance! I really do! But it’s gotten to the point where if I’m at the library or a bookstore and I pick up a book, I’ll practically automatically put it down if it says something along the lines of “…but then she meets [insert boy’s name here]…”, because a lot of them imply that it’ll last forever. In books, it’s like all the teens go to high school solely to fall in love. AS A TEENAGER, that is definitely NOT on the top of my priority list. It’s probably school. Dating isn’t even on the list.
To start, the romance is treated as though that’s their one true love or something. THAT’S SO NOT RIGHT. You don’t just find someone that you’ll fall in love with forever as a teen and you sure as heck don’t find it with your first ever boy/girlfriend. The literal reason people date, as a teenager, is to get used to it! You don’t “fall in love”. That’s the point. It’s like saying, oh, the first time I’m ever going to write something, it’s going to be an award-winning bestselling novel! That’s not how it works. And quite frankly, we are in no way possible mature enough to fall in love. We’re still figuring stuff out and getting used to being older and we’re not even fully developed yet. In what way is it even anywhere near realistic for a teen to meet the person they’re going to marry at that age? It’s sure implied in most everything. That doesn’t mean that if you’re dating as a teen it’s automatically invalid, it’s still great to do and to understand how real-life romantic relationships work, but can we please destroy the idea that you’re going to meet your “true love” in high school in YA books. It works for some people- high school sweethearts are pretty cute- but for society as a whole it’s not exactly common. You can give Character A a girlfriend if you want, but maybe don’t make it out like it’s going to last forever, because realistically it’s not. Let them enjoy each other while they are! I would mind dating in YA so much less if it wasn’t made out to be permanent.
(And oftentimes, if they’re in college or a bit older, but still qualify as young adult, the more serious romance doesn’t bother me as much. Think Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell style. However, it’s still complete insta-love a lot of the time. THAT’S NOT HOW RELATIONSHIPS WORK. It’s supposed to start off as friendship first thing, then dating and stuff. You are first and foremost their friend, and that’s something I don’t see a lot- it seems like it goes straight from “oh that person’s hot” to “oh haha we’re dating and in love”. It should really be “oh they seem interesting and cool and yeah, a bit pretty” to “we’re friends but maybe someday it could be a bit more”, and also without all that pining stuff that’s in YA a lot.)
If I were to list my priorities as a teen, it’d probably be something along the lines of “school, home/family, myself, friends.” So why does romance so often show up in YA? And why is there often so many friendships/friend groups pushed completely to the side? I have a large and awesome nerdy friend group, and that’s awesome! I’d just like more of it in books, please. (Can we also crush the “nerd girl has no friends” trope because wherever I have gone to school there have always been nerds! We’re great! There are so many nerds I know. Like, saying there’s a nerd person who has no friends because no one else is nerdy makes not much sense. It destroys the entire point of AP classes. I am going to school next year with 100 of nerds. We are always there.) Dating is cool. But it wouldn’t ever come before my school life and friendship life. I want more large friend groups (not necessarily nerds, but that would be cool too) in YA! I want more best friend buds who are super great! I don’t like drama, but I’d rather there be friendship drama than romance, because honestly, which is more realistic as a teen?
So can we please have more friendship in our YA? And maybe less insta-love/so-called forever relationships? It’s getting a bit old.
(And to end this on a somewhat-lighter-and-less-frustrated tone, every single time I typed “friendship” in this post, I accidentally typed “frienship”. I can spell, I promise. Mostly.)