This is something I've been wanting to talk about for the longest time but I've been struggling to find the words. So, basically what I'm going to be talking about today is romanticising things that shouldn't be romanticised, particularly in YA books.
I'm going to start by talking about John Green. We all know John Green, we were all a huge fan once upon a time. However, I've been thinking about him a lot with the publication of his newest book, Turtles All The Way Down which I haven't read, I'm definitely curious though but I don't think I'll go as far as to buy a copy. Because I have a lot of feelings about his books now. And, this isn't to be taken as me talking shit about John Green, I think he's an incredibly talented writer and he and his brother do fantastic crash course videos that have helped me in science on numerous occasions so I actually do owe my science related success to him. However, his books are the things I have issues with. A little over a year ago, I read The Fault in Our Stars for the second time and wrote a rave review of it. Well, that's all well and good but I think the bookish community has really helped me to see what is wrong with his books and made me think a bit more critically of everything. I think The Fault in Our Stars romanticises illnesses but I don't exactly think that is the intent there, I do think John Green purely intended for it to be a gorgeous love story between two sick kids but I think particularly the way it was advertised, just romanticises the whole thing.
But, TFIOS is not the book I have the biggest issue with, it's Looking for Alaska. Once upon a time I adored Looking for Alaska. I have a lovely 10th anniversary edition that I loved to pieces but anyone whose read it knows that Alaska is not exactly a stable person and the narrator just keeps on romanticising it, looking back it's actually gross. The obsession with Alaska is just very not healthy and not a great thing to be depicting to young people. John Green loves the manic pixie dream girl trope and he isn't the only one but it's damaging and not healthy. I remember reading Looking for Alaska when I was about 13 and something a bit scary happened, I wanted to be like Alaska so people would romanticise me and that boys would think about me because I'd be this unique individual who 'isn't like other girls' as though that's such a horrible thing to be. But, my issue with the manic pixie dream girl trope is a talk for another day.
I don't think unhealthy relationships, substance abuse, mental illnesses, the list goes on, should be romanticised. Do I think they should be written about? Absolutely, it's important to bring exposure to all of these kinds of things but it is so important to avoid romanticising it. YA readers can be young and impressionable and to be honest, I remember being that person a few years ago. Write about depression, write about drinking problem, write about illnesses, write about sad people, but don't make it out to seem like something beautiful and desirable.
So, basically, the point I'm wanting to get across is to stay aware. Keep talking but don't make it out to be something it's not. Educate. Education on these topics are so important but there is a right and wrong way to go about it. And, I think it's important, when you see a book or a film or whatever, romanticising something that should not be romanticised, speak up about it to keep yourself and others aware.