These Are My Confessions

September 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm Leave a comment

I used to hate to read.  Hated it. Like I simply Did. Not. Read. Ever. My mother was terrified that I would grow up to be functionally illiterate, something she laughs about now. But at the time—elementary school to be exact—she was sure that I was heading down a path that would lead to an early marriage, a gaggle of children, some sort of criminal record, and an inability to read or write.

Which sounds pretty dramatic now, but in her defense I think she had good reason to fear.  I would never pick a book up—unless I was stealing it from the teacher’s personal collection or the library—and I was quite popular with the little boys in my class. Yup, I was a little delinquent child headed down a path of book hatred. Luckily for all of our sakes, in sixth grade I had a teacher who changed everything:  Mrs. Passinteno.

Yada yada yada. I know what you’re thinking, “Okay now she’s going to go all Freedom Writers on us and talk about the power of one teacher in changing a life.”  But no, I’m not going to cue the dramatic “she can read!” music. I’m just going to say that Mrs. P gave me my first taste of romance.

Okay, so here’s the deal. Children grow up with fairytales, right? Right. They are in all the picture books, television shows, and movies.  Come on, I still have my Little Mermaid pillow case from when I was little. Now, what is the central element in a fairytale?

Romance.

Prince, princess, evil something, love. That’s the plotline of all of these stories.  And yet, all of the books my teachers tried to make me read growing up were about Girls in America and Boys that are Hardy.  Silly stupid plots about children being children that just were not interesting.  Reason? They were “age appropriate.”

Screw that. If you’re gonna let a little girl watch all the Disney films then give her a break and write some age appropriate children’s books with romance.  Sweet young love.

So when I finally got into Mrs. P’s class and she gave me my first Ann Rinaldi book, I realized something important: book didn’t necessarily have to be boring. Shocker. They could be fun and dramatic. Their stories could be like the stories that I loved on TV–visual, emotional, engaging…romantic.  From the first moment I opened that worn, used, falling apart paperback copy of A Break with Charity during one of our class’ reading periods, everything changed.  Books were not for stealing anymore, they were for savoring.  I devoured every single one of Ann Rinaldi’s books—up to that point–in a month and then moved onto other classics like Garth Nix, Phillip Pullman, Robin McKinley.  These authors understood my desire for a touch, a hint, of love and affection  in my books.  Genius.

So yeah. Romantic plots are the reason why I am not the very thing my mother feared I would become. A grand book thief with huge library fines.  By seventh grade I was reading other romantic plotlines — less age appropriate– with Mary Higgins Clark, Iris Johansen, and Elizabeth Peters, but I think my mother is eternally grateful to Mrs. Passinteno anyway.  She laughs about how once I started reading, I couldn’t be stopped, skipping the normal young adult books and heading straight to adult fiction before sixth grade was even finished.  My question: if Barbie has her Ken, Cinderella has her Prince, and Cory has his Topanga, then why do people insist that books should be romance free? Nothing else in our culture is. . .

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Entry filed under: Random Life of Lizzie. Tags: , , , , , .

I’m Addicted to Love Card Carrying Romance Lover

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