Over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed a lot of annoyance over the frequent use of a variety of romance tropes: insta-love, love triangles, etc. What has always been a lot harder to find are books, especially YA books, that don’t include much or any romance at all. There is a real lack of platonic friendships, especially that involve opposite-sex characters. I’ve always found it a bit strange, since growing up, most of my friends were boys and it was always platonic.
Personally, I have no problem with romance plotlines in books as long as they make sense and fit the characters. I don’t like when characters are paired off haphazardly just so everyone has a partner. I’m not really a fan of insta-love because I find it difficult to buy into that strong of a relationship developing so quickly. Sure, they might be attracted to each other, but to love each other so deeply they are willing to die when they just met yesterday? I don’t think so. I don’t even mind love triangles much when they are necessary and developed well, although it is really annoying when a character (ie. Bella Swan) suddenly has everyone in love with them. I would love to see more books that focus on friendships instead. It was a real challenge to find books that worked for this topic!
Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.
1) Highly Illogical Behaviour by John Corey Whaley
Technically there is a bit of romance in this since two of the characters are already an established couple, but I tend not to really consider that a romance because we don’t see it developing. This book is about a teenage boy named Solomon who has agoraphobia and isolates himself at home after a very public meltdown. His classmate Lisa decides to take him on as a project and brings in her boyfriend Clark to help Solomon make friends and become more comfortable. There is a character who develops a crush on another character, but it never really develops past that so I also would not consider it a romance story. It is a great book and one I would highly recommend.
2) The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Saenz
This is one of the only books I can remember reading that included a friendship between teenagers that never went past the platonic stage. The book is about a boy named Salvador who was adopted by a single Mexican-American father who is also gay. To be honest, this wasn’t my favourite book since I found it a little slow and directionless, but I really appreciated how well the friendship between Salvador and his best friends was handled. It was really nice to see an author create a friendship that was so real and natural, and did not feel compelled to make it romantic.
3) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Is it cheating to include a book where the characters are a bit too young to be interested in romance? This book is about a young orphan named Mary Lennox who is forced to move in with her distant uncle, and soon discovers that there are many secrets hidden in his huge house, including a mysterious locked garden. This has always been one of my favourite books, and I love the interactions between Mary, Colin and Dickon. I’ve actually always just assumed that Mary and Dickon fell in love when they grew up. This is easily one of my favourite classics.
4) Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola
It might be a bit of a strange choice for this topic, but there is definitely no romance here. This book is about a girl named Masha who wants applies for a job as the Baba Yaga’s Assistant to get away from her new stepmother and annoying stepsister. If I remember correctly, Masha is also a little on the younger side so it makes sense that there was no romance. It focuses primarily on Masha’s trials to become the assistant, but also on the stepsister-relationship. It was definitely one of my favourite books of the year so far, and it is rare that I love graphic novels!
5) Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
I actually read this quite a while ago, so although I don’t remember any romance, it’s possible there was some. In any case, it was not the main focus of the book. This book is about a young girl named Jenna who is searching for her mother, Alice, who disappeared 10 years ago while researching elephants. Jenna partners with a psychic named Serenity and a private detective named Virgil to help her figure out the mystery of what happens to her mother. This was an incredible book that combined an excellent family story with some very interesting research about elephants. I would highly recommend it!