Friday, October 23, 2009

Why Moms Enjoy Twilight More Than Teenagers

When I was 17 I liked a boy who was 22, and he liked me. Naturally, my parents were nervous. However, he was fun, made me feel special, and danced with me on a picnic table. And what were my parents worried about? After all, he never so much as kissed me, although he did hold my hand at the horse stable.

After awhile I took my parents counsel to heart, began to see that it wasn't right, and broke it off. Oh yes, and a few months later a girl I was acquainted with was expecting his child, and they got married. Even if it did not end that way for him, the fact remains that my parents knew best, and that although for a few days it was love for me, it wasn't.

It is so easy as a teenager to think that you have met the end all in a boy and love will keep you alive. We remember feeling that way, right? We also realize that most of the time teenage love is not it. So, why are so many teenage girls looking for true love? Maybe they think it will complete that part of them that isn't complete, but how many of us really felt like a whole person as a teenager? I certainly didn't. I was still trying to figure out where I fit in, how I was supposed to act, and who exactly was I anyway?

Books about true love helped to fill that void, and I am probably lucky that Twilight was not published until I was an adult. Otherwise, I may have believed it. I may have believed that meeting a boy and falling in love could make me a whole person. Don't get me wrong about Twilight because this mom is a fan. But I think I can enjoy it so much because it is fiction, whereas I think that for a lot of teenage girls, some whom I have spoken with, hold it up as a standard and are bound for disappointment.

And this brings me down one more avenue of discussion. What is the love story like in your young adult book (for those of us that write in this genre)? My love story kind of starts out as described above, but I don't think it ends that way. I've posted at least one other post along this vein, but I really want my reader to come away thinking I'm awesome rather than me + boy = awesome.


  1. Kelli-I can't play down that I did love Twilight and read all of the books, the last one twice. I am a big fan, and a big Stephenie Meyer fan. Now that we have established that, yes I do think a lot of teenagers get that Edward is necessary for breathing. (Ha, and he doesn't even breathe.)

  2. haha...I know I'm in the minority not being a "Twilight mom". Pretty much everyone I know loves the books - cousins, sister-in-law, friends. Still, I just can't get into them. I hope you won't hold it against me! :)

    Have you read "The Wednesday Sisters" by Meg Waite Clayton? It's about young moms starting a writing group and the friendship that develops. I bet you'd really relate especially since you are in the midst of writing a novel. I LOVED it!

  3. Well, I haven't read the books and I don't write YA, but I really liked this post. I think you are right on about all of it.

    You know, the teen brain isn't fully developed yet (not until 21, which is why the drinking age was set at that...) and the part that can really see ahead and comprehend true consequences and future possibilities is one of the last to fully form. I think that's why for teen girls, love is everything. The now is so much huger and real than the future.

    But as the mom of a girl on the cusp of adolescence, I'll be looking for those books that show her she is awesome all by herself.

  4. Kelli-You aren't alone. My sister is in the not-a-Twilight-fan club, too, and there is nothing shameful in that :) Anyway, thanks for the recommendation. I'll have to check that one out.

    Heidi-Very interesting information about the age 21. I suppose as teenagers our views on life are very myopic. I remember when I was 14, my uncle told me high school would go by soooo fast. It would be over before I knew it, even though it didn't seem like it then. I thought he was a silly old man. That was 16 years ago. Turned out he was right.

  5. I think that a good relationship happens after you already have self-confidence. You can't look to anyone else to provide that for you. You need to have it independent of anyone or any relationship. So in my books I strive to have confident girls (who may be shy and discover confidence along the way but separately from the boy) and then the relationship.

    I really loved your post and the fact that you've thought about this!

  6. I couldn't agree more. I read the Twilight books with the same vigor as others and enjoy a good intense love story now and again. I like relationships that build, ones that start as friendships not obsessions.

    An interesting tidbit. I had a friend who didn't like the Twilight books because it betrayed love as dangerous and she thought it encouraged girls to put themselves in life threatening situations for love. Funny how everyone thinks differently.

  7. Great post! I am a fan of the Twilight books, but I agree that they can make teen girls want to find the "perfect" guy to make them happy. As an adult I can see that they are just fiction, but some teens might not make that distinction.

  8. Mim-I like that you mentioned your characters may discover their confidence along the way separate from the boy. Now, in YA novels, we know that the boy is necessary. Yes, and we must keep them necessary but separate.

    Patti-That's funny, Patti. I never would have thought of that but I guess she does jump off a cliff and beg for death for four books.

    Melane-And we know that Edward is perfect. Next to Mr. Darcy and Gilbert Blythe, I have the most literary love for Edward. That I cannot deny.

  9. So true! Why did we yearn for "true love" so much as teenagers? It seems funny when you think about it.

    At any rate, most teens love a good love story, and so it's super important for us authors to think carefully about the messages we are sending.

    Great post, Jessie.

  10. Oh yeah, I remember those teen feelings. The daydreaming... LOL
    I'm glad we know that real love takes work. I wish teens did. I just watched the teen movie Freaky Friday for the first time. IT was good, until the end when the boy kisses the girl. Okay, so yes, it's romantic, but at the same time, they'd spent one day together. One. *sigh* I love kissing but I think kids are encouraged to do it way too easily, and we know what some good kissing leads to. LOL!

    I'm sorry about that boy. Funny thing, I was 17 and my hubby 22 when we started dating. :-)

  11. Renee-I'm not sure why. I was looking for my eternal soul mate when I was 14, and I thought I found him many times over until I really found him ten years later.

    Of course, if someone had sat me down and said, "You must wait a decade, and in the meantime figure out who you really are," I would have laughed at the absurdity of it all.

    Jessica-I liked Freaky Friday but I wasn't convinced about Jake's 180 degree turn-around from liking the mom to liking the daughter. Plus, he liked the MOM. That's creepy.

    You were 17 and your husband 22? Oooh, I want to know that love story. The boy mentioned above had a shady past, so that in addition to the age made my parents nervous...rightly so.

    Shelley-It is hard to explain that pull. I have a similar problem in my WIP because there are two boys. One is love-at-first-sight. The other (true love forever) is grow-into-love. They are both equally great, good-looking boys. So why one over the other? I don't know.

  12. Kasie and I were talking about someone we know who was a big team Jacob fan. She said the reason she loved Jacob was because he represented the healthy relationship. They were friends first and Bella always talked about how he was her "sunshine." They had a true, believable foundation for a good relationship. Edward was more obsession than anything else. so now, I think I'm team Jacob. :) But they were still too young. ;)

  13. We were actually sitting together talking about Twilight because of your post. :) We were also talking about how cool you are!

    I think that this upcoming movie may make a lot of people team Jacob!

  14. I think mine says I'm awesome and me + boy = whoa cool something else. If that makes any sense.