Jenerally Speaking: Contemporary Romance and why I LOVE it.
You know that scene in ELF where Buddy the Elf comes in saying “I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!!!”?
Well, in a way, I feel like that when I read a great contemporary YA Romance. I want to come into work arms outstretched, twirling and telling my coworkers that they are missing out if they don’t drop everything and read this book. I want to tell the complete stranger next to me on the subway that they HAVE to read it. Age appropriate behavior? Probably not. But lucky for me when you work in children’s publishing it is absolutely OK to geek out over a book and then discuss it for hours with coworkers.
So, what makes a good YA romance? For me, it needs to be realistic and romantic. Can two people fall in love within 24 hours of meeting each other? Anything’s possible. If you don’t believe me read The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith. At the very least it will make you look at your seatmate on a long flight a little differently. You never know what forces brought you together and where they might lead you. Who doesn’t want it to lead on a romantic excursion on the streets of Paris? Truth be told, I’ve been on over 50 flights this year and none have ended with a love connection. But a girl can dream.
The subject of first love is always a crowd pleaser if for no other reason than it reminds people of what it was like to fall in love for the first time. What brought them together? Are there obstacles? Can this relationship go the distance? I like falling in love with a story and being a part of the characters journey in finding their first crush, first kiss or first love. I like reading about the awkwardness of talking to your crush, the angst of wondering whether he/she likes you back, the nerves leading up to the first kiss and everything else dealing with your first real relationship. If you want to read something that beautifully captures all of these read Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park.
I also like the main character to be swoonworthy. For the same reason I go to movies to see the latest heartthrob, I love a book with a cute/dreamy/hot/adorable/quirky leading man. I’ve had quite a few book crushes from Logan in the Babysitters Club to Todd Wilkins in Sweet Valley High to Sean Griswold in Sean Griswold’s Head to Park in Eleanor & Park. Given how much I read, I don’t see this ending any time soon and I’m OK with that.
Finally, I like contemporary YA romance because with a really great book you can fall in love over and over and over again. You can fall in love with the story, with a character, with the writing or all of the above. But what I really love is finishing a book and thinking “I would have loved this as a teenager.”
What are some contemporary YA romances that you’ve read and loved? Let me know in the comments below. I just might read and review one in my next post!