Thursday, January 10, 2013

Teen Romance: Reality versus Fantasy by Ripley Patton

Today I'm pleased to introduce Ripley Patton whose debut YA novel was released in November 2012.

Ripley lives in Portland, Oregon with one cat, two teenagers, and a man who wants to live on a boat. Her short fiction has been nominated multiple times for awards, and she won the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Short Story 2009. Ghost Hand, a YA paranormal thriller, is her first novel, and the first in a three book series.


Teen Romance: Reality versus Fantasy by Ripley Patton

I love to read and write YA books, even though I'm not a young adult. In fact, I'm old enough to have two young adult offspring lazing around the house and oozing their erratic hormones all over everything. But as old as I am, and despite what my kids believe, I can still remember being a teenager. I can remember every crush I had, every teen idol I worshiped, every thrilling kiss, and touch, and make-out session. And I can also remember the reality of the thing. The awkward grunge of it all. And so I thought I might offer a comparison of the fiction portrayal of teen romance versus the reality of teen romance.

Finding Your One True Love

In fiction, this is easy. Your One True Love shows up on the first page, or at the very least in the first chapter. There they are--beautiful, perfect, and everything in your body melts into a puddle whenever you see them. There is no question this is The One. Unless of course, you're dealing with a love triangle, in which case you get to pick from two. Lucky you.

In reality, you've spent high school rifling through a menagerie of experimental, awkward, short-lived trial relationships to even find out what you like and what works for you. You fall in and out of love in two-week increments, and this isn't bad. This is how one learns to do relationship.

Landing Your One True Love

In fiction, this is NOT a problem. The plot will help you. In fact, everything that happens from the moment you meet The One is designed to throw you together. And amazingly, you will eventually find out that Your One True Love was as instantly and uncontrollably attracted to you as you were to them, which of course just proves you were meant to be.

In reality, the guy you liked last month didn't know you existed. Now you've moved on and suddenly he's into you. You finally figure out your best friend is The One, but she has a boyfriend and you're stuck in the friend zone. The plot of this story isn't out to help you. In fact, it seems like every coincidence and event in your life has been designed to thwart your love story.

Getting with Your One True Love

In fiction, this is the most romantic scene EVER. It takes place somewhere amazing--in the rain or under a waterfall, and of course, you have to warm each other up, and The One finally confesses they've loved you all along and you seal it with a mind-blowing kiss.

In reality, you got a text saying they're into you that might be a joke or a dare or written by someone who stole their phone.

Happily Ever After with Your One True Love

In fiction, once you've found Your One True Love and you've beaten the bad guys together, the book ends and you live happily ever after. There are no jobs to worry about, or kids, or money, or aging, or jealously, or mid-life crises. No, these are not the problems of teenagers or YA books.

In reality, relationships are extremely hard and people are ever-changing. Who we were at seventeen is rarely who we are at twenty-seven, or thirty-seven. Can real relationships stand the test of time? Some of them do. But many of them don't. And I think this may be one of the reasons many of us old folks love to read and write YA so much. Because the key to finding love is believing, against all odds, that it exists. The fantasy feeds the reality, and so we must fill our lives with plenty of both.


I enjoyed this post so much, Ripley. Even though I'm older and write mystery/suspense for adults, I frequently choose to read Young Adult and teen novels for their original stories and excellent writing. The story line for your novel is intriguing so I've added Ghost Hand to my To Be Read list.

For more information about Ripley and her work, visit her website. She can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.


Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Ripley.

Ripley - I couldn't agree more. Part of what makes young love so romantic and YA novels so appealing is the fantasy of the one true love. It's been fed by popular culture so often and of course it's often the way young people think. So it's no wonder it's such an appealing theme for YA novels. Thanks for your insights.

Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Patricia and Ripley,

Thanks for this post. I like reading YA novels that capture the essence of of everything being new and exciting. I also believe that YA authors have some of the best writers' voices.

Aaron M. R. said...

What a fun blog post! The fantasy versus the reality. Romantic love is America's number one religion.

Ripley Patton said...

Margot and Aaron, I like your insight that there is a cult of Romance and "The One True" love in America (and perhaps even globally).

My own daughter, who is fifteen, is always talking about "That One Cute Thing" by which she means that relationship she sees in all the movies and books.

It is often hard for teens to reconcile what they're told love is to what they see out in the real world.

Donna, I like YA for the very same reason. It captures that unique hope of youth.

Thanks to all of you for joining the discussion


RichardK said...

As someone who had their crushes stamped out numerous times, I'm with you on the severe differences between real-life and fictional romances. Perhaps if I was a vampire, or a werewolf, or a vampire werewolf, I would have fared better in high school.

Ripley Patton said...

Richard, I think we've all been there as teens, and sometimes as adults too. Yes, I think supernatural teens do have it better. Adolescence is a time of feeling both powerful (I will be independent soon) and powerless (my hormones are raging and everyone is holding me back from my independence). So, when we give a teen a superpower in fiction, we are mirroring that reality.

Jemi Fraser said...

Absolutely love this! It's so true! If we only knew our plots would work out too!

Anonymous said...

It's great to meet Ripley and best wishes with Ghost hand!

And thanks Patricia for stopping by and saying hello. Its been awhile since I visited here. Hope things are going well with you!

Margaret Carter said...

Excellent post! I wouldn't want to go back to that thrilling but terrifying life stage for anything.

However, I did meet my One True Love at the age of 17. And we're still married. (I'm about to file for Social Security.)