Ground Beef and Love Stories

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I just finished reading a young adult love story.  It was one of those typical girl-meets-gorgeous-boy in high school tormented type of love stories.  For all intents and purposes, I loved the book (check it out– Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins).  It was beautifully written especially in comparison to some of the other YA novels I have read this year.  The protagonist is insightful, and you find yourself sympathetic for the scenario in which she finds herself.  Despite all this, I think I finally realized why I like to claim that “I hate love stories”.  

I first realized that I hated love stories when I read The Notebook.  It is a book that is almost entirely focused on the love story, and I hated that there isn’t anything more to tell.  I know I am greatly simplifying what is a pretty well-received novel, but I am just giving you my opinion.  I need more than just your average love story.

Now do not get me wrong, I love a good romance.  In fact, I was the middle/high school girl who watched every sappy teenage romantic tv show, and I re-watched all those squeal-worthy episodes until the VHS that I taped them on no longer played.  However, there is something so different from that long-form, weekly, episodic format of a teen television show.  Plus, there were always drugs, psychotics, and alcohol to add some other types of drama into the mix. I may say that I love Dawson’s Creek for the Pacey and Joey romance, BUT, I really get hooked from the other drama, the friendships, and the banter.

Which brings me to “love story” novels.  In some of the lucky cases, these stories detail a romance in a smart way.  The reader can jump into head of the protagonist and feel the giddiness of that budding crush or the frustration of the brick wall that is his more beautiful girlfriend.  These things are great, especially when written well, but when you get sucked into things easily it can become not so great.

This leads me to Anna and the French Kiss.  I loved it.  From the moment I started, I was hooked with the witty narration.  Anna is a teenager, so she is not overly wise or self-aware, but she does have some great observations.  However, despite the fact that I have almost a decade on Anna, I find myself swept into her drama.  I feel the butterflies and the jealousy, and I want to put the book down.  But then she has that moment with her perfect guy, and I am glued.  But of course, it’s only a moment of almost-perfection, and then the roller coaster begins again.  And that’s what love stories do to me.  They tease, and they taunt, and the relief of a happy ending is just that, it’s an ending.  At which point, the book is over and I realize it was all fiction, and I put myself through the meat grinder for a moment of happily-ever-after.   

Is it just me or am I just realizing something that others have realized for years?  And will I keep reading these so-called love stories?  I know at least one of those questions is a definitive “yes”.

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