6 April - Tween and Twilight

I have never read a “tween” book before...no Quidditch games nor magical rings resound in my literary history. I used to be in book clubs until I realized I no longer bothered to read the book…huh. Good books, too. I could chime in on anyone's comments of character development, premise, struggles, inner conflicts. I enjoyed all of that. All I needed was a nice glass of Sangiovese or Pinot Grigio. In most recent years, I probably would have joined clubs that began with the words "In" and "Style". Give me quick snippets of info and photos. Even this particular antithetical magazine has two current issues yearning to see sunlight. And I will even admit I have that bestseller Eat, Pray, Love on my bedside table. Excuse me… IN my bedside table. I enjoyed Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing style, but I lost steam somewhere in Italy for the past year.

The books towards which I gravitate involve some type of adventure...page turners that keep me invested and engaged; yes romance, but no fluff. I have respect for an author who does a great deal of historical and cultural research. I enjoy losing myself in character and story, melding history with gripping problem solving suspense and premise like Da Vinci Code (though I thought parts became quite self-indulgent in its tangents). My flavor has the affinity for period pieces as in The Other Boleyn Girl and Memoirs of a Geisha, where I can taste a glimpse of life in a completely different time and culture. Give me clever short stories intertwined with character development as in When the Elephants Dance or the cultural Her Wild American Self written by Milwaukee’s own, friend and award-winning author, M. Evelina Galang (www.mevelinagalang.com).

This week’s task was to read an engaging “tween” book. But I think what I found was technically a bit older to be considered “tween.” Of course, I did not realize that until 1 ½ days later and 490+ pages into it. One day, I overheard friends Shannon and Maggie gushing over a man named Edward. The look on Shannon’s face warmed and intrigued me, her face flush as she whispered. Then I realized her husband’s name is not Edward. "Cute", I thought, "maybe she has a crush." Maggie then chimed in, “I know! I am on the treadmill at 5:30 in the morning and I can't get him out of my mind!" I wondered if Edward were a kind, local gentleman who gravitated towards women my age. As they both giggled, they asked if I had read the book Twilight. It was apparently a love story about a human and a vampire. Red Flag: the Believability Factor. Or lack thereof, not that I do not allow myself to get lost in what may or may not be possible. So I had to turn to my literary expert by night (assistant athletic director by day), Kath. She brought it with her on our trip to Mexico. Did it deem her stamp of approval? Um…yes, as well as eight other of our girlfriends. And the number keeps multiplying as confessions come to light. I would like to see some demographic data on this book. With whom was it more popular: Girls 12-18 or Women 25+? And why?

Was it the butterflies, head games and inner monologues that resonated when we were young and falling in love? As older, married, mature women, do we yearn for those feelings again, which come back so quickly when tapped? Was it the simple writing style of the author (which I realized indeed played to a younger audience)? Or the initial enmity between the two main characters, which transformed to whimsical playful banter, then grew to deep-seeded love, respect and loyalty? I think the draw for me was I did not feel cheated by the typical prince storyline swooping in to save the damsel several times over. It did not become hokey, just…precious. I felt sympathy for a misjudged outcast who redeemed himself as being the complete opposite in having a soul…who also happened to be a stereotypical gorgeous gentleman of a vampire. Another premise is what friend Yvette pointed out – the struggle of self-control between doing what is right versus what we yearn.

I will say, the trip to a misty, rainy Washington and welcoming these new friends into my life was a nice escape for two days. As Shannon said regretfully, “I am jealous of everyone who has not read it yet!” So if you have, no need to deny you liked it. Come on. You know who you are. And if you are not doing anything next week, my girls and I are viewing Twilight at our Movie Club. Just bring jammies and wine.