I have spent the last two nights falling asleep with the light on and a book falling on my face in order to finish New Moon.
Summary (warning – if you haven’t read it….): Edward (the vampire) leaves Bella (and the town iteself) in order to keep her safe. Bella falls into a deep depression but befriends Jacob (who turns out to be a werewolf – the arch-enemy and defeater of vampire). Her friendship (which could could be seen as a new love interest) with Jacob brings Bella back to life. Due to an impending danger (Victoria the vampiress – avenger of her love James who was killed by Edward in Twilight after James kidnapped Bella and attempted to kill her), Alice returns to protect Bella. Through a series of unfortunate events, Bella and Edward are reunited, she is unable to have both Edward and Jacob in her life due to their different issues, and Edward pledges to never leave her again. There is more here…but I don’t want to spoil everything!
Highlights: The author does something amazing to depict the absolute despair into which Bella falls upon Edward’s departure. The titles of the chapters are the months during which Bella is all but lost to the world. The chapters themselves are blank pages. We find out later that she apparently participates in life but does not interact with it at all. This is an amazing depiction of depression, and I appreciate what the author has done.
- Bella basically uses Jacob to regain a spot in life. She is actually more “into” him once she finds out he is a werewolf. This is that standard “bad boy” attraction….why do we emulate heroines who are bent on a conflicting hero? In other words, why do we continue to see this theme over and over in teen literature? Where are the positive relationship models for our teens?
- Bella essentially leaves everything (again) in pursuit of Edward. She leaves family behind with really no indication of what is going on (they would lock her up in a mental institution) and no explanation. If I were her mother, I would not be happy.
- The author treats the concept of “being 18” in the same way that most teens do. They think that they can do anything they want and have no accountability because they have reached some magical age. The reality is that at 18 the parents are no longer legally responsible for their children. The reality is that parents still have every right to determine what is appropriate behavior in exchange for room, board, and all of the other amenities that most parents provide (and often take out a 2nd mortgage to do so).
We need the authors of teen literature to deal with the issues that teens deal with but also to speak into their lives and provide some positive balance. How can we expect teens to treat their parents any differently if their literary role models not helping us out? The teen literature world depicts “reality,” and teens then infer that this is how it is supposed to be. But that is not the case.
My oldest child turns 13 in January. It is my hope and prayer that she will not become a defiant teenager. We have laid the ground work now for continual and open communication with her. At the same time, we have ground rules for behavior, chores, and family team work. We do our best to allow our children to make their own decisions, but we also realize that sometimes they need to be told what the right decision is – so that in the future when they are forced to make decisions they will have right decisions as background knowledge.
This is the kind of literature that we need from our authors in the teen realm. We need them to provide us with families that are supportive, that work as a unit for the good of all in the family, and who raise children who are productive members of society.
The isolation of our young people will lead to the destruction of our country. They need to take ownership, to think beyond their own selfish desires, and to know that their families are important.
I realize that not all families are the ideal….but when was the last time you read a teen novel that even presented a supportive family environment as the norm?