I Prefer a Simple Love

6 Sep

Realistic fiction is a hard sell for my sixth graders these days, particularly my sixth grade girls. When I was in middle school, I was interested in any book that had a romance of any kind in it. My girls now are still interested in romance, but only if it’s accompanied by a side of peril and potential tragedy. It’s not good enough to be a love triangle. It needs to be a love triangle that comes with the risk of death.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t understand the appeal. I love the Hunger Games and Twilight as much as my students do (if not more). I understand the luster of danger. Falling in love with a man who loves you but could kill you at any moment is exhilerating. Having to feign love with a boy who truly does love you in order to save your family and stop the country from rebellion is truly heartbreaking. These stories capture and enthrall me, just as they’ve done my students. It’s no surprise to me, then, that a similar trend seems to be appearing in adult literature. Series’ like Fifty Shades of Grey seem to be popping up all over the place. I looked down the book aisle at Target the other day and was overwhelmed by the number of black and sinister looking book covers. Apparently love isn’t read-worthy unless there are car chases, stalker-exes, and homicidal ghosts from the past involved.

Much to my better judgment, I recently read the Fifty Shades of Grey books. If I’m being honest, they’re ridiculous books, and I almost quit the series after the first book because I thought the protagonist was such a fucking moron (pardon my French). She’s a stupid girl who spends the entire book contemplating whether or not to date (and I use that term loosely) a man who openly admits he wants to beat the shit out of her for his own personal pleasure. And in her head she goes, “Well, you are really hot…” What?! It comes back to that desperate scenario where girl meets disturbed guy, and thinks she can fix him. Us desperate girls always think we are going to be the one, the one that’s special, the one that can fix this broken man in front of us. In reality, every girl I’ve ever known who’s tried to fix a guy has failed. These men need to fix themselves. The whole concept of Fifty Shades of Grey is really disturbing to me. Protagonists in these books are otherwise smart, attractive and should-be confident people. Instead they emit low self esteem and place their value on a man’s opinion. How frequently this appears in books now is something that seriously concerns me. But I digress, and for the record, the Shades of Grey series does get better after the first one.

Do I like all of these books? Yes. Will I continue to read them? Absolutely. But I can’t help but feel nostalgic and long for books that emphasize a simpler kind of love. I grew up on Classic Disney Romance, and I love a knight in shining armor as much as the next girl, but I much prefer love stories closer to life. Stories where girl meets guy, girl crushes on seemingly unattainable guy, guy realizes girl likes him, asks her out, they fall in love and they’re together forever. Stories where boy next door all of a sudden becomes the boy, they fall in love and they’re together forever (Cory and Topanga style). Am I slightly biased because one of these scenarios happens to be my love story? Perhaps. But I still maintain that the love in these stories is just as real, just as palpable, as any love-in-the-face-of-death is.

I’m a fan of the old-fashioned romance. No glitz or glamour, just…life. Anne and Gilbert – Anne hated Gilbert for most of their growing up because he made fun of her hair. It took him getting deathly ill to realize that she’d loved him the whole time. Betsy and Joe – Academic rivals from different circles who eventually realized that their differences weren’t enough to keep them apart. One of my all-time favorites is Willa’s story from Patricia MacLachlan’s sadly undervalued Unclaimed Treasures. (If you haven’t read it, do. It’ll change your life.) I’ve often related to Willa in that story. She wants her life to be adventurous and extraordinary, but what she doesn’t realize is that life is extraordinary in and of itself. Love is extraordinary in and of itself. Every now and then I need to remind myself of that. I definitely need to remind my sixth graders.

When I think about my relationship with Husband, I still get butterflies. In my head, he was so out of my league. He was gorgeous, and popular, two things that I was definitely not. I couldn’t sleep the night before our first date, and on that first date when he kissed me… I was a goner. That feeling never faded. I’ve spent the ten years that we’ve been together floating on cloud nine. I’ve never once feared for my personal safety with him. To the best of my knowledge, the government wasn’t after us because of our relationship. We’ve never battled opposing vampire clans or nearly died because our personal helicopter was sabotaged. We have, however, helped each other out when we’ve been sick. We’ve held each other through painful losses and incredible joys. We may not have a Red Room of Pain, but we do alright in that arena too (*wink wink*). My every breath is better because he’s in my life. That’s what love is, and it didn’t take a near-death experience for me to realize that.

Bella and Edward? They’re ok. Ana and Christian? Meh. I’ll take Willa and Horace any day.


One Response to “I Prefer a Simple Love”


  1. Just a Little Idol Worship « prettyandink - October 6, 2012

    […] of this event was particularly ironic to me, because it was only a few weeks ago that I wrote this post here talking about my favorite book of hers. Coincidence? Probably. But amazing […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: