Saturday, January 4, 2014

Love Triangles or Threesomes? Love in YA Lit


Like I get it. Technically, I am now out of the age range for 95% of the books I read. That's fine. I don't mind downplaying certain parts of life. Like I love that its a rare book where the main characters have to pay bills. Or worry about whether the job they have is going to keep them past the trial period. Or think about having to afford rent and food. I like that my characters are unlikely to accidentally get too drunk at a work sponsored event, or say the wrong thing to their boss and have that awkward moment where they just want to take back their entire life.

But I get so irritated by love triangles.

Don't get me wrong! I love competing interests in love. I know, I know, you're thinking...

Listen up a just a second though.

Occasionally there are time in life where you feel torn in two different directions with who you like. Sometimes those differences are irreconcilable and you have to choose.

But most often in young adult literature, that's the only choice.

Slight spoilers ahead for love triangles in various novels.

To use the example most widely known: Bella has to choose between Jacob and Edward. (Even though for most of the books, Bella has no interest in Jacob as a romantic partner, but psh who cares what the girl in the relationship thinks, amirite?)

I have recently reached my limit with love triangles. If it plays out as competing love interests, sometimes I can swallow it. But UNNECESSARY LOVE TRIANGLES MAKE ME WANT TO SCREAM.

This was my problem when I read This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel. It started out so good, but then suddenly TOTALLY UNNECESSARY LOVE TRIANGLE. It turned me off the book and the series immediately. I just have no interest in continuing to read when there's this love triangle that didn't need to occur. 

Love triangles are not some kind of teenage norm. Hell, even being in a single one-on-one relationship is not a teenage norm. Plenty of teens and young adults have never had a relationship. THERE'S NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. My favorite series ( and I think it's safe to say a lot of your's favorite series) has only the barest bones of romantic relationships at all across 7 books! Harry Potter didn't need to bring in a love triangle to make a great story.

Not only that, but love triangles typically involve a girl and two guys. Completely heterosexual, and half the time, it doesn't take into account the girl's feelings on the matter at all. (See above about Bella). Generally when love triangles come into play in the LGBTQA+ lit I've read, it's because someone is concealing their love for a same gendered individual by dating an opposite gendered individual. That is not love. That's using someone. And I hate that it's the type of representation LGBTQA+ individuals have to endure. 

Now you might be wondering, where's the threesomes at?? I'm going to cross media here for a moment and talk about the movie Savages directed by Oliver Stone. Sure, sure, most of the movie is completely inappropriate for teens (it is rated R) and I'm not saying I agree with everything in the film, but I adore the fact that it centers around a polyamorous relationship between three people. It isn't always easy, but they show that it's an option.

That's what I'm looking for here. SHOW OPTIONS. Normalcy is a facade that people either use to show how great they are or to hide how damaged they feel. People in real life should be free to love whoever they love however they want to love them. I don't think that should be up for discussion. And I think YA lit should embrace the many different kinds of love there is and not focus on the same old tired love triangle. 






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