do likable characters make for a good book?

discussionsnovo

Hello, friends!

I come to you today with a discussion. (Also: 10/10 writing this post at work. Don’t tell my boss). I was thinking about the things I enjoy in books and most of the time, it comes down to the characters. But, is it true that likable characters makes for a good book?

nalinivishwakumaredit | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | TumgirBut, first, let’s make something clear: good characters =/= likable characters. A character can have an amazing development and be someone’s favorite, even though they’re actually pretty unlikable. Devi, from Never Have I Ever, is a character I know many people would consider unlikable – she’s selfish, definitely doesn’t think things through, impulsive and overdramatic. However, she’s still one of my favorite characters in the show and I think a very well-written one. Never Have I Ever definitely would not be the same without Devi!

I do think it’s possible to like a character that is deemed unlikable, BUT for the sake of this discussion, I’ll just be focusing on how unlikable characters can break or make a plot and how likable characters can as well.

UNLIKABLE CLASSICS

6185. sy475 I remember finishing Wuthering Heights and seeing someone’s review talking about how this is their favorite book, and how they had never thought about the characters being awful and problematic, because that’s kinda the whole point. I think that was my first time considering that people can love a book, but not its characters.

The characters in Wuthering Heights are all pretty awful. They’re mean, self-centered, aggressive and disrespectful. And the reading experience of this book was not personally enjoyable, as the plot is literally just the characters doing their character things. I had a hard time engaging myself with the story.

But, I do know this story is many people’s favorite. People connect with it even though they don’t like the characters, either because of the themes or the writing. And I do think it *is* possible to enjoy a book, even if the characters kinda suck.

45359713I definitely felt that way about Felix Ever After. Felix was not a “likable” protagonist – he was cunning and mean and was legit catfishing a guy to blackmail him afterwards. Definitely not good-guy-behavior. But the book was actually refreshing, exactly because Felix was such an unique protagonist. Plus, Kacen Callender developed all the other themes of family, relationships, self love, gender and sexuality incredibly well. There’s a good cast of queer characters who are all incredibly messy and flawed as well and, if anything, this just adds to the story.

My experience turned out to be quite different with both books, even though I’m pretty sure I gave both of them the same rating (the grey area of 3-star books is a topic for another discussion, though). I didn’t like Wuthering Heights that much, probably because the themes that were discussed weren’t as cut and dry, and I couldn’t really understand the point the author was trying to make. As for Felix Ever After, while I had my fair share of gripes with the dialogues and the overall pacing of the relationships, I definitely liked this one a lot better – even through Felix’s unlikableness.

OUR SAVIOURS

And what about a book that has flaws all around but likable characters? It definitely becomes harder to rate stories like these: because, yes, I recognize the flaws, but alsooooo I am attached to the characters!

17675462. sy475 The most perfect example of that has to be The Raven Cycle series. I think everyone can agree that this books’ actual plot is… mediocre, at best. It is incredibly confusing, the villains are sooooo poorly written and for the ending very anti-climatic. But it’s still such a popular series because Maggie Stiefvater created these characters so well. They’re dramatic and a bit antagonistic, and not all perfect, but they’re likable and easy to relate with. Their dynamic is incredible and it definitely makes it for a fun reading experience.

39863498However, I also totally understand the different perspective. I recently finished The Gilded Wolves and, as much as the characters were interesting, not even they could salvage this firestorm of a book. It was ultimately too poorly written imo: the pacing completely off and the action sequences read like a fever dream. I enjoyed the characters dynamics, but even that felt so surface level.

This is not a rant review for The Gilded Wolves, but the point I’m trying to make is that, in this case, the characters, as likable, interesting and relatable as they were, were not enough to make me actually like the book. As for The Raven Cycle, maybe I just connected more with Maggie Stiefvater’s writing or I cared more about the characters, but they definitely saved the book’s confusing plot.

What do you think? Do you also find that books can make or break a story? Do you have examples of books with unlikable characters that you still enjoyed and books with likable characters that you still hated? Let’s discuss in the comments!

i read ace by angela chen and i am now a new person (a review & discussion)

discussionsnovo

Hello, friends!

52128695. sx318 sy475 So, back in April, I read Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society and the Meaning of Sex, written by Angela Chen. I had seen this book being mentioned before, when people were discussing asexuality, and it felt like a good place to learn more about it, as a label I gravitate more and more towards.

Disclaimer: this post is going to be super personal. If you don’t care about it, and just want to know my thoughts on the book: I loved it & I encourage anyone – ace or not – to read it.

THE PROBLEM WITH LABELS

The one thing that always stopped me from using “ace” as a label was the fact that I could change my mind about it. How to know if I’m asexual if no one ever actually had an interest in me either? The phrase “Am I ace or just ugly?” is written in my journal at least 400 times.

And that’s, already, the first thing I loved about the book: the way the author acknowledges that it’s okay to change your mind, and therefore, find a better label out there that suits you best.

IMG_5867Especially when we’re talking about communities, it’s impossible not to feel like an imposter, like if I join and leave, then my presence there was less relevant. And it’s fascinating how this book actually made me realize that so many people go through this journey as well and seeing how normal it was for them, made me realize it could be a normal process for me too. I have joined communities and left them before – the number of fandoms I was once a part of is literally too many to count – and that doesn’t mean they didn’t matter to me at the time when I joined them. And when it comes to labels, so many people grow up thinking they’re straight, just to realize they’re actually not. Some think they’re gay and then realize they’re actually bi, or pan, or trans. Labels are not written in blood or ink, and it’s okay for them to change.

Not only that, but it’s also okay not to know one thing or the other. Like, I may never know if I’m asexual because I’m ace or because I’m just not desirable. And it felt, for the longest time, like the answer to one would cancel out the other, as if I couldn’t just be both or neither.

INTERSECTIONALITY

The book touches a lot in the intersectionality of asexuality and race, as well as asexuality and disability. And that was the part that impacted me the most, as these are two almost opposing communities and living in that intersection is like being rejected by both sides. The ace community wants to prove that asexuality is NOT a disability. The disabled community wants to prove that being disabled doesn’t automatically make you ace. So it must absolutely suck to be both.

But what I was able to apply to my experience was what one of the interviewed – Cara – discussed: the fact that she doesn’t know if she is actually asexual or if she is disabled, and therefore, by our society ableist standards, undesirable. And there’s no way of her knowing, because she’ll never get to just *stop* being disabled. So the answer becomes irrelevant. It doesn’t matter which one causes the other, because you can’t strip someone out of their disability, to figure out how different their sexuality would be. We’re all MORE THAN ONE THING and they’re all intertwined. Her disability might affect her asexuality, and that’s how things *are* supposed to work. Again, it made me feel a bit ridiculous that I for some reason thought things could be different.

It’s the same thing when it comes to sexual assault victims. The ace community strives to prove that asexuality has nothing to do with trauma, but that lowkey invalidates sexual assault victims who ALSO choose to label themselves as asexual. Again, you can’t know what that person would choose as a label if they hadn’t gone through that, because you can’t take their trauma back. One thing may affect the other and it doesn’t invalidate their experience as ace in the slightest.

WHY I ONLY WRITE THE GOLD-STAR ACE

I hadn’t even realized just how many prejudices I had internalized by trying to affirm asexuality as a valid identity. One of them was the aiming of the “gold star ace”.

IMG_6229I hadn’t realized it then, but I started writing ace characters when I was 13, in my first ever writing project. I have no idea when I first heard the word “asexual”, but I was already familiar with it at the point, and wanted to write about an ace character. This character was: white, blonde, tall, and a MASSIVE celebrity. Like, Ariana Grande level of celebrity. And her biggest “scandal” was the fact she never dated. She was never seen with anyone, never had hook ups or rumors or flings, or any of that. And people were constantly pressuring her to get a boyfriend.

I did envision her to get one by the end, so I imagine she was more demi than ace, but nonetheless, I’d wanted to write about a character who was, in every sense of the word, a desirable person, and that still CHOSE not to have sex. It wasn’t because no one else wanted them, it was because they didn’t want anyone else.

And I loved how Angela Chen made me question that. Why was that identity the one I was striving for? Why was *that* person going to finally validate asexuality as a real thing? If my character had been disabled, fat, neurodivergent and not-white, then they wouldn’t be the “perfect ace”, because all of these other labels would become things for others to point: *this* is why you’re not having sex. Not because you’re ace, but because ___, ____, ____.

And that is simply *not* true. It’s honestly a bit ridiculous to expect that the “gold star ace” exists and only if they do is that our existence will be validated. We are ALREADY existing. People ALREADY feel like they’re ace. It’s not a matter of whether to not we’re “allowed” to exist, because we already do.

THINGS I LEARNED WITH ‘ACE’

Besides everything I talked about that the book helped me change my perspective on, I also love how “Ace” taught me about a lot of topics I didn’t know enough about.

One of them was the idea of “rape is not sex”. When I started reading this segment, I vehemently disagreed with the author, just because the phrase “rape is not sex” is something I’d heard being repeated so often, in contexts where I generally agreed with people who used them (feminist segments, defending victims of sexual assault, talking about rape culture, etc), but the more she talked about it, the more it became clear that statements like that just help perpetuate even further an idea that sex should always be something good. And sex doesn’t have to be all that.

I also had never given much thought about how asexuality is perceived in relationships, especially with allosexual partners. Mostly because I am aromatic, so the thought of navigating asexuality in a relationship just didn’t feel worth having. But throughout the book, Chen goes in depth about sexual enhancement products and how they not only have side effects that disproportionately affect women, but how their use is recommended without considering the societal pressure where people are expected to always want to have sex, and how THAT is what we should be treating.

It was definitely a learning experience, as I previously knew close to nothing about these practices and it made me not only more aware, but more critical of them too.

WHAT I THOUGHT WAS LACKING

While the book was amazing and one of the easiest 5-stars I gave all year, I did think it was lacking in some aspects.

IMG_6255One thing I found weird was how much the author went on about how the feminist movement hardly ever welcomes asexual women or just women who simply don’t want to have sex. I understood her point but I feel like it’s something already discussed a lot in feminism – how moving towards more forward thinking and the embracing of women who are open about their sexuality should not mean the shaming and the “leaving behind” of women who choose celibacy. It’s a similar concept to the feminist view of motherhood: no woman should be shamed into becoming a mom, but no woman should be shamed for genuinely wanting to either. I thought these were old news, but if just yesterday, I had to listen to my college professor, well-versed in feminism, shaming his own cousin because she used “mom” to define herself, then it might indeed not be as “common knowledge” as some may think.

I also wish the author had touched more on the place of aces within the queer community. While she’s very open throughout the book about seeing asexuals as part of the community, we all know they’re not as easily welcomed. Every Pride Month I feel like we witness the same conversation happening on Twitter – whether or not aces are allowed to celebrate Pride & whether or not they are *really queer*. I’d have liked to listen to experiences of people who felt like they were not exactly welcomed by the queer community and had to build their own.

There also weren’t a lot of people being interviewed who define themselves as aromantic and asexual, which was something I missed, especially because society pressures us into romance even more than it pressures us into sex. While sex is, in some cultures and for some demographics, considered something too “vulgar” to be talking about, you hear stories of romantic love from as early as a toddler, when you watch Cinderella for the first time. I wish there had been a broader conversation on aromanticism and its differences and similarities with asexuality.

saudacoes

This turned into a whole fucking essay, so I apologize. Let me know if you’ve read Ace, your thoughts & what was a book that you read recently that changed your life!

a meta discussion on blogging (& me simping for percy jackson)

discussionsnovo

Hello, friends!

Today’s post is going to be a bit of a lenghty discussion, mostly on blogging. I was nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by Belle (thank you very much!) and I thought answering her questions in this format would be fun.

ON BLOGGING

One challenge you faced while blogging?

IMG_6225I think the biggest one is finding a schedule. I’ve been *a lot* better at it this year, but every time I get slightly more busy, my blogging takes the back burden and I turn behind on blog hopping and answering to comments. Then, I get incredibly overwhelmed and take even longer to get back. It’s a pretty bad cycle. I hope by being consistent, I’ll also find time to do so when I’m busy, so I don’t get into the same old toxic routine.

Another challenge I’ll say I’ve faced is the fact I’m not in social media that much. I tried bookstagram but really didn’t like it, I also *hate* Twitter and overall social media makes me anxious. I like consuming content there, but I hate being the one creating it. Because of that, I know my blogging growth has taken a lot longer, since I know how much being active on social media can boost your engagement. But I think slower growth is a sacrifice I’m willing to make for my blog in the name of my mental health.

I’d also like to add that recently WordPress has been my biggest source of stress. I feel no motivation to draft posts because I hate the block editor and I’m also constantly redirected to this wp-admin page that makes all my images look wonky and I can’t stop it from automatically sending me there. Now, I have to mentally prepare myself to have at least five mental breakdowns while doing anything in this website and it’s definitely not encouraging.

Inspiration behind my blog’s name?

Literally, none at all? Lmao. I wanted a name and I liked the idea of “bookish” ____ (enter word here). As someone who loves taking sunset pictures, I thought “sky” would be cute, and easy to build an aesthetic from (related to clouds, sun, the weather, etc). It’s probably not gramatically accurate, but that’s already my brand anyway, so it doesn’t really matter, lol.

How long I’ve been blogging?

Going on 3 years this December! Yohoo!

ON READING

How has reading impacted your life?

IMG_5872Obviously, reading has led me to create this blog, which is something I mention in every single job interview I’ve done so far, lol. Ever since I saw Xandra mentioning she’d added her blog in her CV, I realized how smart that actually was, especially for me, as it shows my English skills pretty well.

On top of that, I think reading just makes me happy. Everyone has something different that they do on their own that makes them happy – doodling, makeup, yoga, or just listening to music really loudly, taking a long bus ride, people-watching and noticing small things in life. When I think about what makes me happy, reading is literally all that comes to mind.

When I got the opportunity for my current job, I was excited, but also sad cause I knew I wouldn’t have as much time to read and I like too much the person I am when I’m reading.

A book that reminds me of my past?

As someone who grew up reading, there are a lot of books that I associate with my childhood and preteen years. But I’m still attached to most of them (cof cof Percy Jackson), so a book that reminds me of my past and that I no longer really think about that much would be The Hunger Games trilogy.

I had a lot of fun reading those books as a kid (I literally read them when I was 11, which was probably not age-appropriately at all) and I remember watching every single movie on release day with my family. I also had a Tumblr around that time and was active on the fandom, which was very exciting (still remember watching the 1st movie premiere in a low-quality livestream and talking about it with my tumblr friends lol).

Predict a 5 star read

IMG_5867I have to be honest, I don’t have a lot of 5-star-reads in my radar at the moment. I do think it’s very likely I’ll end up loving An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green, simply because everyone I know loves this book, and I do think the comentary on internet and social media will blow my mind.

If you could live a character life for one day, who would it be?

Anyone in the Percy Jackson franchise. Because they get to interact with Percy and I consider that a win.

PERSONAL

One thing you want to achieve in 2021? / Country I want to visit post COVID.

I mentioned this in my goals post about how I wanted to visit Edinburgh by the end of the year, so Scotland is at the top of the list of places I want to visit post COVID. I don’t know if I will be achieveing this goal, because realistically, I am a broke university student with currently 100R$ in my bank account, but one can dream, right?

Use three words to describe yourself.

I’d rather choose three Sims traits to describe myself. Creative, Loner and Bookworm.

I can also describe myself using three songs. Ribs, by Lorde. Meet Me in the Hallway, by Harry Styles. Everybody’s Changing, by Keane.

But three words? Uh, not sure, lol.

Let me know in the comments some answers to these questions: what’s one thing you want to achieve in 2021? And which fictional character you would like to live as for one day? Also: if you have a blogging schedule, what’s your secret? (pls help)

discussion: why do we have to stop calling books “underrated”? (spoiler: we don’t).

discussionsnovo

Hello, friends!

I know today’s discussion is probably going to be coming from an “unpopular perspective”, but my experience through Twitter has made me realize a lot of things about the book community. Including that it can be quite annoying, lol.

So, today’s post was inspired by a lot of tweets I’ve seen of people questioning what an “underrated book” really is. And, apparently, people have very STRONG reactions when you use the word “underrated”, lol.


First and foremost, what is the meaning of “underrated”?

“Not rated or valued highly enough”.

We typically use this word to talk about books that we don’t see enough people praising or hyping up and that we feel like deserve more recognition.

So, here’s how I feel about it. (Pls, feel free to disagree with me in the comments!)

ONE. THE BOOK COMMUNITY IS NOT A MONOLITH

Like any other community, the bookish one is also full of “bubbles”. In the sense that, if you’re in book twitter, your experience will probably be different from if you’re on book tube, or even book blogging.

I know of books that are very popular amongst book bloggers and yet, I hardly ever see booktubers talking about it. An example is C.G. Drews’ books. As a blogger, Cait’s books are very well known within the book blogging community, as well as bookstagram, but not necessarily amongst booktube.

So for people who consume mostly booktube content, it’s possible that they’d have never heard of A Thousand Perfect Notes or The Boy Who Steals Houses.

Not only that, but some creators focus more in one genre than the other. There are some cult-classic adult fantasy out there that I’d never heard about in my life. That, of course, doesn’t mean these books are “underrated” simply because I have never heard of them, BUT it can create the feeling amongst others that this book doesn’t get recognition enough because it’s not talked about in the bubbles I am in. (Which is not the adult-fantasy bubble).

This disparity even happens between countries! There are some titles that were very popular in the US and, yet, were never published in Brazil (where I live), because Brazilian readers are not interested in this type of content. Meaning that, if I was to talk about a book for Brazilian readers, even if it’s very well-known for an American audience, it can be a completely new title for them.

It’s also important to remember that not everyone who reads is in the community actively every day. Some people simply walk into Barnes and Noble and pick up whatever seems interesting to them. And that probably means that the books who are not in the “best-sellers” display shelves probably come across as “underrated” for them, because their metric is not what’s being talked about in social media, but what’s being advertised as popular.

TWO. THIS LOWKEY LEADS TO GATE-KEEPING

Gate-keeping’s definition is “the activity of controlling, and usually limiting, general access to something”.

Even though I’m sure that some people don’t consider this a big deal, I imagine it must be discouraging to tweet about what you believe to be an “underrated” or “not appreciated enough” book just to be made fun of.

The book community should be for everyone, including the people who only read popular books! And if by their definition, this book is not “appreciated enough”, whether that is in their community and following/followers, aka, inside *their* bubble, they should be able to express that without feeling embarrassed.

When I first joined book blogging, I was very scared because I didn’t read enough books, and most importantly, I hadn’t read some really “popular” series (like Throne of Glass, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, The Lunar Chronicles). And, at the time, that was the sentiment: that some series were must-reads and in order to take part in some of those discussions, I felt the need to also read them.

Now that the sentiment has changed, meaning that the book community has grown so much that people have become tired of hearing about the same books and want more “refreshing” and “not as well-known” recommendations, the feeling also changes: now I should *not* be reading the popular books and, instead, turning into something else.

It’s a lot to keep up with.

(I also won’t even get in the discussion that when people say they want “refreshing” recommendations, what they really mean is: “I want a book series exactly like this really popular one but that is not as big”, not *actually* unknown books, such as translated works by marginalized authors.)

Basically: let people say what they want, lol. It shouldn’t bother you this much.

THREE. CHECK YOUR FOLLOWING!

I do understand that some people may feel like the act of having popular books being classified as “underrated” gets in the way of *actual* indie books being talked about in the way they should. But I consider that more a problem with the following and the part of the community you’re interacting with.

If you feel like you’re only being recommended the same books over and over, and even the “underrated” recs are already familiar to you, then perhaps that means you need to refresh your following!

There are a lot of bloggers and booktubers out there who are constantly recommending indie authors/self-published books, or simply books that are less talked about in the community.

(A personal favorite of mine is Ashley @ Bookish Realm, who’s a librarian, and has a lot of recommendations for all different genres/age groups for less-known books).

I think this feeling of frustration from people misusing the word “underrated” could change if people just followed people who then, actually gave them the “underrated” recs they’re looking for.

FOUR. THE “1,000 REVIEWS” IS NOT A GOOD ENOUGH METRIC

I’ve also heard people trying to now coin the term “underrated” to only be used when a book has less than 1,000 reviews on Goodreads.

This metric doesn’t work not only because Goodreads is not ~the~ platform, and there are plenty of people out there who read a ton and talk about their reads online and who still don’t use it.

Our Wayward Fate by Gloria Chao. Despite this book only having 814 ratings on Goodreads, I have 10 friends on Goodreads who either have read it or marked it as to-read, meaning they’ve heard about it. Gloria Chao is actually a well-known author, at least in my online bubble.

A Thousand Fires, by Shannon Price. This book only has 366! ratings on Goodreads, and yet, I remember seeing it in SO many lists of “end of the year” releases back in 2019. So much so, I was intrigued to pick it up. (And I’m not one for reading “””indie””” books).

Let’s Call It a Doomsday, by Katie Henry. This book does have over a 1,000 ratings on Goodreads and yet I hardly ever see anyone talking about Katie Henry, even though I mostly follow people who also talk about YA contemporary a ton. (To compare it to Wayward Fate, only 5 of my Goodreads friends have it marked).

A Boy Worth Knowing, by Jennifer Cosgrove. This one has close to 2,000 ratings on Goodreads, and yet, when I talked about it in my recommendations post, all the comments said they’d never heard of it before. (Only 3 friends have it marked).

Now, of course, that experiment doesn’t really mean anything, as I am comparing it to *my* perspective – aka *my* Goodreads friends, *my* comments, and what *I* see in other blogs. Which just further proves my point that the whole debacle of using or not using the word “underrated” is dumb because every person in the community is going to have a different perspective on what’s popular/what’s not.

Also, there are a lot of books who were particularly popular when they came out (2016, 2017), but are not as talked about today. And it doesn’t mean whatever discussion that book evokes is no longer relevant. So if that means adding a popular book from 2016 into an “underrated books” list, if that will make people more interested in picking it up than if it was a “backlist reads” list, then so be it! “Old” books can still be relevant. (It’s tragic to even think that 2016 books are considered “old”, when that was literally 4 years ago, lol. But that’s a discussion for another day).

SO: what are your thoughts? Do you get frustrated when you see someone talking about a popular book/author being underrated, or you don’t care? Do you think a metric should exist for how we talk about these books? What are some of YOUR personal favorite “underrated” reads? Let’s chat in the comments!

kaleidoscope of tropes #6: two bros chillin’ in a hot tub only one feet apart even if they’re not gay

kaleidoscope of tropes.(1)

Hello, friends!

First of all, I apologize for the gigantic title. I ended up not writing a post for this series last month, but at last, it returns!

WHAT IS A TROPE?

In storytelling, a trope is just that — a conceptual figure of speech, a storytelling shorthand for a concept that the audience will recognize and understand instantly. Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom… you know it when you see it. (source)

Today’s trope is going to be:

TWO BROS CHILLIN’ A HOT TUBE ONLY ONE FEET APART EVEN IF THEY’RE NOT GAY

I hope y’all were able to get the Vine reference, but basically this is what I decided to use as a title for the trope that consists of a relationship between two men that is devoided of toxic masculinity. It’s a friendship where they can be affectionate, loving and open to each other, despite their sexuality.

in books

EXHIBIT #A: WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON, BY JOHN GREEN AND DAVID LEVITHAN

IMG_5003It’s been such a long time since I read this book, but I have so many great memories from it! And it’s all because of the relationship betwen one of the Will Graysons and the true main character of this story, Tiny Cooper.

As I said, even though this book does not center in Tiny, he *is* our main character. He’s the one link between the two Will Grayson’s. The one written by John Green is Tiny’s long-term best friend and I loved how sweet, but realistic their friendship was.

Will is not interested in theater, but joins the play because Tiny insists and because he’s a good friend too. What I liked about their dynamic is how even if they try to keep this no-homo vibe, they literally can’t, lol. Because they love each other too much and it meant a lot to see Will being open and vocal about it after all, regardless of how Tiny can be uncomfortable about public displays of affection.

EXHIBIT #B: DEAR MARTIN, BY NIC STONE

Me talking about Nic Stone, AGAIN??????

Yes.

IMG_3817There are several amazing elements in Dear Martin that I won’t be discussing entirely, but you can check more in-depth reasons to read this book here.

Here we have Manny and Justyce, who have been best-friends for a really long time, and are both some of the few black kids at their prep school. Even though they come from very different backgrounds – with Manny’s dad being CEO of a company, while Justyce comes from a much more humble background and a single mom -, they’re shown to be very close and very understanding of each other’s circumstances.

Their friendship has its ups and downs throughout the book, but what I like a lot about this dynamic here is that Manny is super open and affectionate and brings this out on Justyce too. He’s not shy in telling him he loves him and being his best supportive self, and even if Justyce pretends to be uncomfortable, it’s clear he loves and appreciates Manny just as much.

Be warned that they’re going to break your heart, though!

in television

EXHIBIT #A: BAS AND ARTHUR, FROM SKAM FRANCE

tumblr_ec6507379c26471113ba299ffb9823dc_916d1881_400

I literally do nothing else in this blog but talk about Nic Stone and SKAM remakes. I apologize that my content is so repetitive, but clearly I love them.

I absolutely love the boysquad from SKAM France. They’re hilarious and have such a pure but chaotic friendship. That’s the best way I can define Bas and Arthur’s bromance: chaotic. Both are very… unique individuals, I guess you would say, and when they come together, is pure chaos, but also pure brotherhood.

What makes them fit so well in this trope to me is how neither really understand the concept of toxic masculinity and are constantly flirting with each other, because they’re just sure of their sexuality like that. It’s really funny and adorable, but I also love seeing the other more dramatic layers of their friendship too.

EXHIBIT #B: POLO, ANDER AND GUZMÁN FROM ELITE

mine: ander guzman and polo | Tumblr

This is the angstiest bromance of all times, period. But God I *love* them.

They’re shown to have been best friends since forever, and I think the reason why they fit into this trope so well is simply because of the undeniable chemistry all the characters in ELITE have with each other. I don’t know how to explain it, but even if they’re not in romantic relationships with each other, there’s always this underlying tension in all dynamics.

I think this is noticeable in all interactions of this trio – some more than others. But I really appreciate how being friends for so long makes it so they’re very comfortable around each other (sometimes too comfortable cof cof), and yet that doesn’t always have to be seen as something romantic or sexual.

I don’t know if I have a favorite tier, like, if I prefer Polo x Guzmán or Ander x Polo. I like all three of them, in their absolute messiness, hilariousness and angst.

If you have any recommendations for this trope, pleeeease, let me know. I’ll love to discuss them with you in the comments!

a discussion about our expectations on own-voices books ft. me opening up about colonization, white-washed references & why i don’t talk about brazil anymore

Hello, friends!

I am bringing yet again another discussion. Being on Twitter recently has sparked my interest in some of these, so at least there’s one good thing coming from my time in that God forsaken app. (Y’all who use Twitter on a regular basis deserve veteran discounts. That shit is so toxic lmao)

During the last month, I took part in the Latinx Readathon and that was my first time reading so many books by Latinx authors. While I did really appreciate my experience, I also felt like it opened up a lot of internal discussions on how much international/white content I consume regularly.

@jojosiwasbraintumor

I don’t stop thinking abt this tweet AND YES I’m gonna do this STUPID standing in front of a tweet trend because it works #foryou #foryoupage

♬ NO WHERE TO RUN by Stegosaurus Rex – morguehorde

That’s literally me, lmao. Not only because I blog and talk in English regularly, but because most of my interests are not Brazilian or Latinx. I’ve been more recently facing that regularly, especially since I started university and most of my friends there are interested in Brazilian movies, artists and content creators, and I didn’t know any of them. On one hand, I did feel great because it was feeding my quirky, different, not-like-other-girls Aquarius rising persona where I’d be interested in things that they weren’t, but on the other, I realized I should be supporting more Brazilian creators. We talk a lot about #own-voices, and yet, I’ve read more books published in the US about Latinx-Americans than books published in Brazil by actual Latinx.

That’s not the point of this discussion, though, because I do feel like most of you can not relate with it, and that’s fine. My point is that, in the process of reading more Latinx books, I realized I was, in turn, expecting to immediately like and relate with all books and characters.

IMG_4671I do think that we all have this expectation whenever we pick up an own-voices book. Recently, there was a discourse on Loveless, by Alice Oseman and I won’t be getting into all the points of that discussion, but the most relevant one for this post is the fact many people felt like it was not a “good” own-voices work because sex-repulsed aro/ace were the only ones being represented.

The book never set itself to represent every single ace experience out there. I talked more about this in my last discussion, but this is not how own-voices books should be perceived, because NO book is going to tackle all the numerous experiences that marginalized folks go through.

That’s a big reason as to why I stopped writing about Brazil in my blog. If you followed me last year, you may remember I had a feature called “A Trip to my Home Country” where I talked about elements of Brazilian culture. But I didn’t feel comfortable writing about that anymore because I realized I have a very superficial perspective on Brazil, despite living here my whole life, and I didn’t want to share information that was inaccurate and in return, lead people to believing that this is what Brazil is actually like. But it is also true that I’d never be able to represent, in any work, all Brazilian people out there, because our experiences are VASTLY different.

I think the key is not in the author, but in the reader. When you read a book by an Asian-American author, you should know that this is not representative of every Asian-American person out there. And, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be the author’s responsibility to tweak their story so that readers can understand that this just “one experience”.

IMG_4665Yet, I feel like our expectations, especially when it comes to authors of color, is always that they should do the most. When I picked up History is All You Left Me, recently, I even considered adding in my review that there were no characters of color in the story. But then I started to question why would that be a problem. Just because Adam Silvera is a Latinx man, it doesn’t mean he has to write about only Latinx people. If a white author had written that book, would I’ve been mad that they only included white characters?

I’m sorry to keep repeating the same books, but when I was reading reviews for Like a Love Story, I encountered myself in a similar position. I was looking for reviews that were rather negative to see if others had noticed the problematic remarks that this book contains, and I found a similar issue that people felt like, because the book had been written by an author of color, that they were surprised there were no references of queer people of color throughout the book. While I do understand that is a very valid concern, I’d like to ask that: if Like a Love Story had been written by a white author, would people complain that the references throughout the book were all white as well?

IMG_4188I do think that most of these reviewers would have a problem with it regardless, but it made me think if we don’t have different expectations when it comes to authors of color. If it was a white man talking about how Madonna was a life-changing figure for him, it would be expected, but if it’s a man of color, then we question why wouldn’t he have Marsha P. Johnson then?

It’s kinda funny, actually. It reminds me of an episode in Everybody Hates Chris, where all of his projects would be about Martin Luther King, because being black, that’s what all of his teachers expected of him. Let me remind you that people of color can talk about whatever the fuck they want and write about whatever the fuck they want.

(Of course as long as they’re not being mysoginistic, racist, ableist or homophobic but I think that goes unsaid).

Ok, but how does this tie with everything I said before, about my own experience?

Well, because I do think it’s harder for some of us, folks from colonized countries and who’ve experienced hardcore imperialism over the years, to get to know and be proud of our own country’s culture and art. I’m happy to say that for the past ten years, I’ve seen a rise of young people consuming more Brazilian created content, whether that would be in music or YouTube and even books. But if you ask my mom, who grew up in the 80s, all her favorite musical references were probably American, with a few exceptions of Brazilian artists.

I do understand that we should always strive to be closer to our own culture. But I think it’s always important to remind y’all that this is not a possibility for every person out there, and that some people don’t have white-washed references only out of choice (like me, btw. I completely think in my case it’s a choice and something I need to work and be better at, because I have privileged resources to support my own country’s content and art and I choose to consume mostly international media), but because of historical systems that have oppressed marginalized folks to the point where their own content is seen as irrelevant or less.

So this is something I wish more reviewers would take into consideration when setting up their reviews and expectations for books by authors of color.

Alright. This discussion is huge, but I hope I’ve made myself clear. Let’s talk in the comments.

kaleidoscope of tropes #6: a series of coincidences

kaleidoscope of tropes.(1)

Hello, friends!

Welcome to another post in this series where I discuss tropes. Because I know there’s some new people here, this is just basically me talking endlessly about some of my favorite/least favorite tropes in fictions and providing you with examples. But first:

WHAT IS A TROPE?

In storytelling, a trope is just that — a conceptual figure of speech, a storytelling shorthand for a concept that the audience will recognize and understand instantly. Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom… you know it when you see it. (source)

Today’s trope is going to be:

A SERIES OF COINCIDENCES

I overanalyze coincidences constantly. I am not a really spiritual person, so I like to think of them as little signs of the universe that I am on the right track. I really like whenever books explore that: it always feels like a sprinkle of magic in a non-fantastical story.

in books

EXHIBIT #A: I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, BY JANDY NELSON

IMG_1423I talked about this in my review of this book, but the quote “We were all heading for each other on a collision course, no matter what. Maybe some people are just meant to be in the same story.” sums it up pretty well.

This book is filled with coincidences, where these characters’ stories are all intertwined, even if they don’t know it just yet. I know some people who read it would consider it a stretch, but I think it adds to the atmosphere of this book, which is already a bit fantastical, even though is a contemporary novel.

The way these characters view the world is always so interesting, because they’re filled with daydreams and paintings in their heads or superstitions and conversations that never existed. It doesn’t surprise me that so much of their story was also destined in a way, and I love how the author works that throughout the book so you just slowly find out how they’re all connected after all.

EXHIBIT #B: OUR WAYWARD FATE, BY GLORIA CHAO

IMG_5006 2OK, so I do not love this book and I did find the romance to be a bit rushed and insta-love-y, but this story will also explore a number of coincidences so of course I had to mention it.

This one is a re-telling of the Chinese folktale “The Butterfly Lovers”, so I imagine there’s where so many of these coincidences come from. In this book, I’d definitely say this builds the more magical atmosphere of the story, and that’s why I found it so fascinating, because while still being a contemporary novel, it had sprinkles of magical realism that made it really unique.

This book is literally called “wayward fate”, so you can expect that it will present some twists in your expected soulmate story, and it’s all presented in an incredibly smart way.

in television

EXHIBIT #A: SERENDIPITY

Serendipity (2001)You Know The Greeks Didn't Write Obituarie GIF ...

I don’t typically watch or love Christmas movies, but this one is the best of the best. Set in New York in the 90s, one of our main characters is obsessed with coincidences and takes that as a sign for every decision she makes.

At the beginning of the movie, we see these two characters meeting and hitting it off. Our protagonist then suggests that the way they should check whether or not this is a worth-moving forward relationship is by entering an elevator and choosing a floor at random. If they choose the same one, then it’s meant to be. The movie then continues to explore the series of encounters and misencounters and it’s just a lot of fun.

I honestly related quite a bit to that main character, lmao. Even though I do not make that many life-changing decisions based in out-of-my-control events, I have the tendency to also believe rather blindly that the universe can tells us whenever we’re on the right track or not.

EXHIBIT #B: A LOT LIKE LOVE

A lot like love GIF - Find on GIFER

I talked about this movie so many times in my blog it’s kinda ridiculous at this point, lol.

What can I say? I just love myself some Ashton Kutcher, ok.

Much like Serendipity, this one will follow the encounters and misencounters of our main characters through the years. Even though I don’t consider all of them to be coincidences or fate, there’s one at the end of the movie that always makes me!!!! when I watch it and I watch this movie pretty often, lol.

I don’t typically like this “ships of the night” trope (hence why I don’t like movies such as Love, Rosie or One Day) but A Lot Like Love just hits different. The soundtrack is also a bop and I had to recommend it.

If you have recommendations for this trope, please let me know! I’d love to chat with you guys in the comments!

discussion: is aristotle and dante discover the secrets of the universe just a sad book?

discussionsnovo

Hello, friends!

Long time no see a discussion post. This one will be sort of a discussion/spoiler-y review, so there’s that, but I am rusty, so please apologize me if this post is all over the place.

IMG_4655If we’ve ever talked before, then you probably know Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is my favorite book of all times. I pretty much hype up all reviews of this book because I love reading different perspectives on it, but recently, I saw a person on Twitter saying they didn’t like it, because the book made it feel like being gay was the worst tragedy in the world.

When I checked the replies, I realized other people felt the same. That the book was “way too sad” and that being gay is not only about being sad, and that they were so done with tragic representation of gays in media.

And while I do recognize that Ari and Dante is a sad book and we deserve more diverse queer rep in media that is not only tragic, I think these thoughts can be very limiting. So, yeah, let’s discuss that.


“Maybe we just lived between hurting and healing.”

At first, I felt like what this person was saying made no sense, because the ending of the book is happy and hopeful. It shows that these two boys have finally found each other and are going to be together. But, obviously, that does not compensate for the fact that Ari spends most of this book hating himself. Then, it also made me question whether just following an individual story says enough about an entire community.

Like, because Ari’s story is sad, then it’s not worth-telling? Where do we draw the line between what is an individual experience that the author feels like sharing and a representation for an entire community?

IMG_2886That was one thing I felt when reading American Panda, by Gloria Chao. In that book, our protagonist, Mei, has very overbearing and strict parents, who do not accept of her taking any other course in life than going to medical school and becoming a doctor. While this definitely can be seen as a stereotipical view on Taiwanese parents, we actually learn in the acknowledgements that Mei’s story was inspired by the author’s, who experienced something similar with her own parents.

So, just because Mei’s story can be “stereotypical”, does it mean it’s not worth-telling? One thing that the author pointed out in her acknowledgements as well that I think works wonderfully for this discussion too is that this is one of the reasons why we need more own-voices stories. Because Mei should not have to represent every single Taiwanese-American kid out there, and their stories can be so different and unique that all it means is we need more representations of said stories.

Therefore, it’s not just because Ari’s story was sad and figuring out his sexuality wasn’t an easy journey for him, that this is how every single other Latinx gay kid feels. And this is why we need more Latinx queer authors, to tell these other stories.


“You know what I’ve learned from you and Mom? I’ve learned not to talk. I’ve learned how to keep everything I feel buried deep inside of me. And I hate you for it.”

But then, the other thing is that I also feel like by assuming that Ari’s story is nothing but a tragedy, this person is completely failing to recognize what was happening around him. And, how, yes, being a Mexican-American gay kid in the 1980s probably wasn’t the easiest thing in the world.

IMG_4187I recently read Like a Love Story, by Adib Nazemian, which I have mixed feelings about that are not really relevant to this discussion. But that book is set entirely during the AIDS crisis in New York and a lot of Reza’s (one of our protagonists, who immigrated from Iran to the US and is figuring out his sexuality) inner monologue is extremely negative, and he has a lot of internalized homophobia.

However, we have to consider that it was extremely scary for him to be a gay kid in the 1980s, when there were still so many misconceptions about what AIDS was and how it actually was transmitted. It’s not possible, in my opinion, to judge his thoughts with a 2020 mindset, where you can literally find more information about AIDS on your phone in less than a minute.

Back to Ari and Dante, though, I want to take this time to talk about one of the layers in that book that means the most to me, which is the machsimo and overall “unsaid things”, which I feel like it’s pretty standard for Latinx communities and one thing I related *so much* with in this book.

(Again, this is just based in *my* experience and I don’t think this should count as a representation of all Latinx families).

As examples of that, we have one of the biggest conflicts of the book, which is the fact Ari has a brother in prison and no one talks about him. I don’t know if this applies to other families and cultures, but being Latina myself, I definitely feel like we live in this paradoxal world where we can be open about so much and not at all about other things. Having an *entire* person you simply don’t talk about is a very common unsaid rule in my family and just shows how hard it can be to approach certain topics with your loved ones.

Ari also struggles a lot with talking to his dad. As much as he wants to, he also finds impossible to open up and express his feelings, much like his dad does. Machismo is still super present and I definitely see how a lot of the men in family and just around me, overall, grew up feeling like they were not allowed to express emotion and had always to be “strong”.

That’s why it takes so long for Ari to understand his feelings for Dante. Because, and this is a direct quote:

“I had learned to hide what I felt. No, that’s not true. There was no learning involved. I had been born knowing how to hide what I felt.”

And that is because the culture he was immersed since birth was not one that ever allowed him to be vulnerable.


“I left him alone for a while. But then, I decided I wanted to be with him. I decided that maybe we left each other alone too much. Leaving each other alone was killing us.”

When I first picked up this book, I did not know it was a LGBT read. I did not know that Ari and Dante were going to fall in love. I simply thought it was a friendship story.

Therefore, I do think that my judgement is a bit clouded, because I never went to this story expecting a gay romance from it. And so I was never disappointed that I got so little of it, and in fact, what I got the most of is what I still love about this book the most for to this day: Ari’s growth.

IMG_4659To me, this is not a book about whether or not Ari and Dante are going to end up together, and I feel like people who only see it for that are reading it COMPLETELY WRONG.

This book is about Ari learning that there is power in being vulnerable, in letting people in. It’s about Ari understanding himself by understanding the people around him – his dad, his brother, his mom, his aunt, even Dante. He spends most of this book trapped in his own cicle of hate (again, a direct quote), because that’s the only way he can comprehend his own emotions – by ignoring or hating on them. He’s never been taught how to understand love, affection, friendship, so yeah, it takes him a bit longer to feel like he’s worthy of a love story.


Overall, I think the point of this discussion isn’t even telling you whether or not Ari and Dante is “just a sad book”. It is sad, but there are reasons for it, and it’s ultimately, so much more than that.

If you’re looking for books about queer joy, I highly recommend this post I wrote for Pride Month, but I’d also like to recommend four extra titles I read & loved:

CAMP, BY L.C. ROSEN. Has a very smart take on the toxic masculinity in the community, while still being a fun & light-hearted read.

HER ROYAL HIGHNESS, BY RACHEL HAWKINS. Girl falls in love with her roommate, but her roommate also happens to be the Princess of Scotland. Free of drama, except for the royal one, of course.

THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE, BY MACKENZI LEE. Historical fiction, friends to lovers and Monty is pretty much the definition of chaotic bi.

YOU SHOULD SEE ME IN A CROWN, BY LEAH JOHNSON. One of the best 2020 releases, by far. Prom shenenigans, A+ family and friendships and a swoon-worthy F/F relationship.

Alright. If you read so far in this 1.5k words post, thank you! If you have read Ari & Dante, let’s chat in the comments: what are the themes you cared the most about when you first read it? Do you have any other recommendations for queer books that are not sad at all?

kaleidoscope of tropes #5: failed marriages

kaleidoscope of tropes.(1)

Hello, friends!

On June 12th, we celebrated Valentine’s Day in Brazil. Even though this date is celebrated in February for most countries, we end up celebrating it around Saint Anthony’s Day, as he is known for being a match-maker in Catholic traditions. A lot of people who want to get married will pray for Saint Anthony.

In honor of that, I decided to talk about one of my favorite romantic tropes. I already have a post where I shared five of my favorite and least-favorites (and that was also posted during Brazilian Valentine’s Day, lol), but today I will be sharing a specific one that I love.

But first,

WHAT IS A TROPE?

In storytelling, a trope is just that — a conceptual figure of speech, a storytelling shorthand for a concept that the audience will recognize and understand instantly. Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom… you know it when you see it. (source)

Today’s trope will be:

FAILED MARRIAGES

I honestly don’t know why I consider this trope so satisfying. I think it’s interesting because you jump into the story already knowing these characters have history; they’re married now, so they were in love once. It’s all about navigating these past feelings that are lying under the surface, as well as facing their most recent problems that have broke them apart.

in books

EXHIBIT #A: YOU DESERVE EACH OTHER, BY SARAH HOGLE

IMG_3918Technically, this couple is not married yet, they’re just engaged, but I think it counts. They have an established relationship that has essentially lost all its spark. They spend most of this book trying to make the other person give up on the wedding, and falling back in love in the process.

It’s a really interesting dynamic to consider they’re enemies to lovers, but already engaged, because that means they know *exactly* what to do to push the other person’s buttons. They know what makes the other person frustrated, and what the other person prefers, so really is as petty and childish as you can imagine, but also very entertaining, ofc.

I think the way the author explored their sexual tension was also really well done. Quickly, their dynamic of “who’s going to give up first?” becomes “who’s going to give in first?” which was equally entertaining.

EXHIBIT #B: LOVE HER OR LOSE HER, BY TESSA BAILEY

IMG_4181I definitely would say this is the book that goes the *hardest* in the failed part. Our main characters, Rose and Dominic, have been married for over a year now, but their relationship has not been the same for a while. They barely talk and their only moment of intimacy is their scheduled sex nights every Tuesday.

I really liked how the book talked about couple’s therapy. Is it uncomfortable, cringey and super awkward? Yes. Did I still devour that? Of course! I don’t know why I liked watching that so much, but I always like seeing characters talk about their significant other to a third person. It’s completely different from the way they talk to each other and most of the times, a lot better.

Even though I do think this book won’t be for everyone, simply because Dominic’s character is one of those overly alpha males that can be tiring to read about, I did find it entertaining AF.

EXHIBIT #C: TO HAVE AND TO HOAX, BY MARTHA WATERS

IMG_4180In this historical romance, James and Violet had a real whirl-wind kind of first year of marriage, but they haven’t properly talked in years now, despite living in the same house. Due to a lot of circumstances, Violet decides to fake an ilness in order to get back her husband’s attention, and everything kind of escalates from there.

I think the journey to these characters is very interesting, because they’ve always had natural banter and agreed to argue a lot, even when their marriage was happy. They’d typically make up in great fashion afterwards, but never truly communicating and understanding why they upset each other. I think it was really nice how the author explored their growth and how they could *not* resolve all their issues just by kissing them away.

Nonetheless, their sexual tension was A+ and so was their banter, as Violet pretends to be sick and they keep playing games. It’s definitely a bit childish, but it was all acknowledged on page, so I think it makes it a little bit better.

in television

EXHIBIT #A: 17 AGAIN

17 again GIFs - Primo GIF - Latest Animated GIFs

OK, so I know that at first, I strictly watched this movie because Zac Efron was on it, and even though it does have a handful of inappropriate relationships as any movie involving time travel does, I still love and re-watch the heck out of it.

We start out the movie following 17-year-old Mike O’Donnell, who gives up on a basketball scholarship to start a family with his high school sweetheart. When we jump to 17 years later, Mike has a miserable job, which he’s just been fired of and is also divorcing said high school sweetheart. He then gets the chance to go back to his 17 year old body and re-do everything.

Even though it is awkward to see Mike reconnecting with his wife in the body of a 17 year old, it is very interesting to see how he learns from his choices and strives to be there for his wife as much as he can. The speech from the gif above is absolute *chef’s kiss*.

EXHIBIT #B: DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE MORGANS

did you hear about the morgans? | Tumblr

After becoming witnesses of a murder, this divorced couple is thrown in the Witness Protection Program and forced to isolate together in a small town in Wyoming. This movie contains all the country, small white town references you can think of, and it’s hilarious because of that.

But the progression of the relationship is also interesting. Because now that this couple is forced to be together, they have no other option but facing the things that broke them apart and hopefully work through them.

I honestly feel like I had much higher expectations for this movie, and especially considering I don’t like Sarah Jessica Parker, I don’t understand why I thought I’d love it. Still, I think it’s a great example of this trope!

Now, it’s your turn: do you also like the failed marriage trope? Do you have any books, tv shows or movies to recommend that contain said trope? Let me know in the comments!

 

kaleidoscope of tropes #4: the premonition sex

kaleidoscope of tropes.(1)

Hello, friends!

Welcome to another post in this series! This one will be slightly different, though, because I’ll actually be discussing a trope I don’t like, instead of one of my favorites.

WHAT IS A TROPE?

In storytelling, a trope is just that — a conceptual figure of speech, a storytelling shorthand for a concept that the audience will recognize and understand instantly. Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom… you know it when you see it. (source)

Our trope for today will be

THE PREMONITION SEX

That’s what I like to call whenever books or shows have the main characters have sex right before the biggest twist in the story. It has a “premonition” feel to it, because it’s almost like by having sex they were already predicting something bad was about to happen and break them appart, even if temporarily.

in books

I feel like most people don’t even notice that they’re doing this when they’re writing a story. But, it’s always bothered me, especially in YA.

This is a small list of books I remember having this trope:

  • Alex, Approximately, by Jenn Bennett
  • All The Bright Places, by Jennifer Niven
  • When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon
  • My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick
  • The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland, by Rebekah Crane
  • Queens of Geek, by Jen Wilde
  • Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell

I am sure this is present in a lot of other books, but I don’t remember that many details about some titles.

IMG_3929And this is *why* I think this is such an annoying trope:

First, because it pitches “sex” as a life-changing event. I know everyone will have their own personal view on sex, intimacy and what it means to them. But, from a strict biological point of view, there’s nothing life-changing about sex. (And, no, I will not be talking about hymens and whatever, because that assumes a heteronormative kind of sex that does not apply to everyone).

However, when authors put their character’s first time right before the major plot twist, where actual life-changing circumstances will come to play (main character’s mom just announces she’s adopted! Love interest gets accepted in college in the other side of the country! Major fight breaks between them – will they find each other after such fall out?), it becomes impossible not to associate the two.

IMG_4049And they should *not* be associated. I remember reading All the Bright Places for the first time and feeling so bad, because I knew that the moment they had sex, something bad would happen in the story. And that’s not how sex should be perceived! I should not fear for my characters to finally do the deed, because I know the tone of the story will change dramactically, because this is not how it happens in real life. Your life doesn’t go from bubbly roses to emo soundtrack just because you had sex!

Another reason why I hate this trope is because it can add even more drama to the storyline. Let’s say that these characters have been together for a while, but have yet to do *it*. There’s typically a lot of anticipation – in most cases, because all the books I mention feature straight couples, the girl will be nervous and the guy will be fucking ready to do it from day one – and so when it happens, it really feels like a milestone for their relationship.

Just so they can break up the next day because of whatever tragic event the story brings to us.

IMG_4051You can almost always expect a regretful inner monologue from one of the characters saying that they wish they hadn’t done it. And, honestly, it’s understandable! If you trust that person enough to have sex with them, just to have that truth be broken, it hurts a lot. And that’s why I feel like the sex always have to come before the “fall out” in these books – because this trust has to be marked with this event, just so the characters can feel even worse when they do break up.

(Is this post even making sense? I hope so).

All of this to say that this is *not* necessary. You can show a really emotional trust bond between characters without them having sex – that is not the only way you can show to another person you’re comitted to them. And it also does not sit well with me that this is only used to add drama to a story.

in television

 

kheigledit | Tumblr

One of my favorite movies of all times is guilty of having said trope – 27 Dresses. The only reason why I feel like this one doesn’t bother me as much is because there is no implicit expectation in the sex. It’s not the “first time” for any of the characters, and it happens sort of out of the blue, without them having an established relationship beforehand.

I think this lack of expectation doesn’t make this sex feel like a huge premonition, even though it pretty much is. And in this case, sex is also used to show the trust between the characters, that is obviously broken the next morning due to a huge misunderstanding.

3x22 gg | Tumblr

The last episode of season 3 of Gossip Girl also features an amazing example of this trope. The way Gossip Girl deals with sex has always been problematic. Not only there’s way too much implication of these TEENAGERS having kinky sex at 17, but it is also pitched as this life-changing event that bonds these characters together forever. Like, no thanks.

Let me know in the comments if you’d ever noticed this trope in the past and if it bothers you as much as it bothers me, hahah. Do you remember any books or shows/movies where sex was used as a premonition for the big twist in the story?