SAN JOSE, CALIF. ⸺ As of recently, there has been a rise in reading romance books among teenagers in the Silver Creek Community. However, these books often portray and normalize toxic relationships instead of healthy ones.
There is no doubt that I, too, am a lover of reading myself. Reading allows you to create worlds within your mind while still being in reality. There is nothing else in this world like it. Don’t get me started on romance books! If any book makes people express their emotions to the point where they’re swinging their legs in zeal, it would be romance books. Us romance book readers meet men who’ll express their never-ending love to these young women with words, affection, or even materialistic things such as flowers, jewelry, cars, and grand homes. However, past that, we often disregard their toxic behavior, which is blatantly shown at times.
In many books recently popularized on social media, like Instagram and TikTok, we follow many stories that fall right into this category of unhealthy behavior. Oftentimes, these books are recommended to young teens on social media apps through their explore page on Instagram or their “For You” page, an explore page customized by your algorithm that shows up when you open the TikTok app, by the relationship tropes portrayed in these romance books. “Brother’s best friend”, “forbidden love”, and “enemies to lovers” are some of the previously-mentioned tropes to name a few that almost always catch the eye of a young teen. Although, not once have there been warnings of the unhealthy relationship dynamics shown in these books.
An example of this is in the book “Ugly Love” by Colleen Hoover where we follow a no-label relationship between our two main characters, an academically driven nurse who hopes to get her master’s degree, Tate Collins, and a traumatized airline pilot with commitment issues, Miles Archer. Archer often mistreats Collins and repeatedly has this behavior justified and allowed by Collins with her “love isn’t always pretty” excuse. Throughout the entire book, Collins seems to have this “I can change him” mindset toward their relationship. Because it’s a romance novel and the two love interests will always end up together, she does actually “change” him. Collins also completely and magically forgets all the mistreatment she faced from Miles, too. In the epilogue of the book, the two end up marrying and having a child, ending the story happily ever after of two star-crossed lovers who may have faced these “bumps”.
Another instance would be Edward Cullen and Bella Swan’s relationship in the popular romance-fantasy novel series by Stephanie Meyers, “Twilight”. An anonymous student from Silver Creek High School says, “Meyers often depicts Swan as a damsel in distress that always needs to be saved by Cullen, and if not him then Jacob Black, the second love interest in the story. Overall, Cullen is often seen as being ‘protective’ of Swan when in reality, its possessiveness. Their relationship in my perspective just promotes how ‘women are better when they’re submissive’ and ‘abuse of power does not equal love, it equals abuse.”
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