He likes me, too!
In this very first edition of Book Talk, I’d like to talk about something I’ve seen a lot – if not in every Young Adult book I’ve read. Because every time, every time, the main character sets her eyes on a boy, and she crushes on him, he likes her, too.
Now, I understand that readers like romance (I do too!). I understand that there’s even a whole genre that’s dedicated to relationships. But why can’t the heroine never ever be rejected? In my opinion, books are about a different experience. About creating a world or characters or friendships that are as realistic as possible, so that the reader can get carried away and forget that (s)he doesn’t live in the world of that book. So that the reader forms a bond with the book, feels for the characters and wishes that it was all real.
And then, I wonder, is it realistic for the main character to get anyone she wants? Is it realistic that she never gets turned down, that her crush always only has eyes for her? I don’t think so. Personally, I do not have any experience with dating or boys, but I’d bet that the majority of you who read this have been turned down at least once.
And it’s not that I think that it’s wrong for the main character to have her way. Not at all. I do, in fact, ship a lot of those characters out there, I do genuinely hope that they’ll end up together. If they broke up, I’d be so, so disappointed.
But I think that, apart from the fact that it isn’t realistic, it creates the wrong expectations. There are a lot of insecure teenagers out there that are easily influenced, and they read these books in which the heroine always ends up with the boy. And it could make them believe that this is the way of life, that if they do nothing but daydream about their crush and occasionally glance at him, he’ll get madly in love with them, will go to them instead of the other way around, that a situation will be created in which they have to team up and from one thing comes another.
Sadly, I don’t think it works like that. There won’t always be this school project for which you team up. He won’t always go to you and say, “hey, I like you, let’s make out.” Sometimes, I think, you have to act. And maybe he or she will feel the same. But maybe they won’t. And I miss the books about that: about how the heroine says how she feels to a guy, about how maybe he’ll reject her because he simply doesn’t feel the same, about how she feels disappointed but knows that life goes on, always.
I don’t know any book that handles that, and it makes me sad. It can be that I just haven’t been looking in the right direction: if you know any YA book in which this happens, please tell me!
What do you think about this? Have you read any book in which the main character gets rejected (and then doesn’t end up with the love interest later in the book anyway)?