All The Single Ladies
Happy August Swooners.
So let’s dive into one of the essential pieces of the YA Romance equation: the single girl. We’ve all been there (some of us more than others, in fact some of us A LOT more than others). And as I start writing this I’m trying to image a scenario in which our leading female is already dating a handsome, dashing, charming young man of good breeding and none comes to mind – because frankly, if she’s already dating that fellow, where exactly is this story headed? And can I please read the prequel first? But anyways, back to the topic at hand. Single ladies (cue Beyonce interlude here).
I’m bringing this topic up with you because last week one of my fellow Swoon Bloggers and neighbor, Jen E., recommended the book Never Have I Ever: My Life (So Far) Without a Date. Katie Heaney has chronicled many many romantic mishaps and missteps that have brought her to her mid-twenties. This book is so great, I can’t stop talking about it – I literally read an entire chapter to my roommate last night, with frequent laughing breaks, because it’s so funny, honest and real. At more than one point, I found myself thinking “how does she know that this exact same thing happened to me?!?” This book also comes along at the perfect point. I had just finished reading a hefty stack of YA Romance novels – and most of them were very good but I was looking for a little break. Something different, but not a heavy adult novel that was going to bog me down for months (sorry Goldfinch, you’ll just have to wait). Heaney is exactly what I needed, a sort of a wonderful combination of Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey. She’s quick-witted, smart, insightful – but also playful, hysterically funny and self-deprecating. I might be setting the bar a little high – but don’t take my word for it, go get your own copy.
But anyways, Katie Heaney brought me down to earth from the land of charming boys, sparkling intense long gazing and meet-cutes. She reminded me that, really, as much fun as those wishful thinking YA romances are, it’s nice to take stock of what’s really going on and acknowledge that you have to be single before you can have a really good meet-cute. I’ve spent a good chunk of my teens and twenties being single, and it’s nice to be reminded that not only is that totally okay, but it’s also 100% worth it to wait for the right moment to leave the single life behind. One of my very best friends is one of those girls who is never single. Even when she’s single, she’s not really single, she thinks about breaking up with someone – and another guy will just magically appear. It’s funny, because you would think this would make her the worst person ever to hang out with, but the truth is she’s so nice and fun, that even though sometimes I want to hate her, I just can’t. Anyways, she once said to me “you’re so good at being single – I don’t know how you do it.” At the time she said it, she was up to her elbows in Kleenex, eyeliner and mascara streaking down her cheeks and we were three hours into a “I can’t believe he broke up with me” moratorium on her last relationship. Sure, when she said it, I wasn’t quite sure if I should be offended or not but I decided to take it as a compliment. Being single, independent and happy, I guess, does not come naturally to everyone, but trust me when I say if you are single – you’re totally doing it, and you’re doing great.
So think back to the beginning of most YA Romances and you’ve almost always got a nice girl, who is smart and by virtue of the fact that she’s the narrator she’s (usually, or hopefully) likeable and despite many charming characteristics, she is inexplicably single. Possibly much like yourself. Sometimes it might be hard to remember, but this is such a great start to a story because it’s got so much potential. Which really, if you think about it, is such a nice way to think of your own outlook: so much potential. So there you have it Swooners – a little uplifting outlook on the single life to start off your August. Hope your summers are going swimmingly.