We May Love The Fantasy Of YA Novels, But Boring Love Stories Are The Best Kind


I’m not the only 20-something in the world who loves John Green.

Especially during the past few years, I’ve become acutely aware of this fact. His stories are compulsively readable — not dissimilar from the way YA novels tend to be. Yet somehow, he manages to insert insight and intelligence in a way most YA novels don’t.

My favorites out of all of Green’s books are his first and most recent: “Looking for Alaska” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” respectively.

The two stories have a lot in common: an acutely self-aware narrator, who sees him or herself as nothing but ordinary; a charismatic love interest and a heart-wrenching ending.

They are love stories for a cynical generation, which might be why we love them so much. Still, there’s a love-at-first-sight element to both stories that’s much more traditional.

When I was little, I believed in the old adage that claimed I will simply “know” when I meet the love of my life. It will be immediate and undeniable.

Although I’ve grown out of that belief (like many other people my age have done), it seems to be making a comeback with the help of love stories like the ones Green has penned. In both “Looking For Alaska” and “The Fault In Our Stars,” it may not have necessarily been love at first sight, but it was definitely something.

When Hazel Grace first spots Augustus Waters at her support group, there’s no ambiguity to how she sees him: “Look, let me just say it: He was hot.” Miles (or Pudge) Halter has a similar reaction when he first lays eyes on Alaska: “The hottest girl in all of human history was standing before me in cutoff jeans and a peach tank top.”

It doesn’t take long for both narrators to fall hard for their love interests, either. Hazel may have fallen for Gus “slowly, then all at once," but the point is, there was a moment. It was inevitable.

The thing is, love doesn’t work that way most of the time.

This isn’t to say that John Green’s stories aren’t beautiful – they are. But, it’s important to know this: The loves of our lives might not be the larger-than-life, swoon-worthy characters we’ve dreamed up.

They might not immediately fascinate us (we might be painfully indifferent to them). We might not even remember the first moment we saw them because it was entirely forgettable. But, these characteristics don’t make this kind of love story any less important to tell.

Boring, non-cinematic love is often the kind of love that sticks around. It starts out hovering above our heads, just out of sight in a place where you can convince yourself it doesn’t exist, until it finally nestles in and hunkers down for the long run.

I’ve heard time and time again that there are too many things in life that are mediocre for love to be one of them. I’d like to think that, while being able to shout your love from the rooftops is great, it’s not a required ingredient for the occurrence of love at all.

I’m no expert on the subject, but I figure that if we sit around waiting for a love that smacks us in the face, a lot of us will be waiting for a hell of a long time.

While there’s something to be said for butterflies and that so-called spark, if I’ve learned anything, it’s that love that sneaks up on you has its own kind of significance. There may be no grand “aha” moment or romantic gesture – just an instant when you breathe out and the words “I love you” manifest.

It’ll feel like something you know, yet are simultaneously still learning how to know. It’s something that happened but is still happening.

It’s happening all of the time.

Photo Courtesy: Flickr/Marga Corameta