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  • Michelle G., Tasnia R.

Sick of Basic Love Tropes in Books? Read These!

Tired of basic love tropes? Try our book recs:

Wonder / Familial Love

Written by R.J Palacio , Wonder is the extraordinary story of a young boy named August (Auggie) who has an extraordinary face. Wonder follows Auggie’s journey since starting mainstream middle school from multiple perspectives and overlapping timelines, while focusing on how his facial deformities shape his initial interactions with his classmates. At its core, the book underlines how a child rises beyond the superficial differences which alienate him from others and learns to navigate his imperfectly perfect existence with humor, courage and love.

Auggie’s courage, and sense of humour are products of the love his family has showered upon him. He is able to tackle hurdles head-on because his family (and eventually, his friends) stand in his corner. His family’s unwavering support towards Auggie through all his trials and tribulations, and Auggie’s subsequent resilience stemming from such support, paint a beautiful picture of the power that love holds. Auggie’s love for his own self also imparts the invaluable lesson to hold one’s head up high in the face of adversity.

Wonder is one of my favorite books of all time because of its subject matter and the writing style of the author. The writing is fluid and straightforward and it is a quick read. The book left me feeling triumphant and encouraged me to be more empathetic to the diversity of needs and capabilities of the people around me. I loved how the book focused on how Auggie’s facial appearance affected his relationships with his sister - Via, his friends and his parents. Via’s perspective was especially moving for me because she spoke to the trials and tribulations which came with her brother’s unique condition. Even though she loved Auggie and her family to bits, she couldn’t help but feel resentful at times about her parents' attention to Auggie. Hers was a raw and touching account of how the people close to individuals with special capabilities and needs are impacted by their circumstances. Auggie’s friends' POVs (point-of-views) were also insightfully informative and provided depth and dimension to the wonderfully layered narrative. The book will make you emotional, hopeful, angry, joyful and most importantly, teach you the value of love and empathy.

The Sun is Also a Star / Insta-love

The Sun is Also a Star narrates how a chance encounter between Natasha and Daniel lead them to consider the possibility of falling in love over the span of a day. Natasha is a science geek whose family is being deported at the end of that very day because of their illegal immigration from Jamaica to the US. Daniel is a son of South Korean immigrants who dreams of becoming a poet. The two characters' personalities clash but their whirlwind romance blooms and blossoms throughout their day. The musings of the two characters, the looming deportation, and the familial pressure, add wonderful depth and dimension to the book and keep the reader guessing about the fate of Natasha and Daniel’s relationship.

This story can be termed as what we call ‘instalove’. The two characters do fall for each other quite fast. But who are we to suggest that ‘instalove’ isn’t real?

The difficult circumstances which Daniel and Natasha navigate while spending those 24 hours together define the depth of their interactions and make their love for each other seem tangible. The open ending of the book is also a lovely testament of the strength of their connection. Their love story is sure to tug at your heartstrings and make the book a memorable read.

The characters have distinct voices and their personalities are well-etched out. The author, Nicola Yoon, imbues the storyline with multiple perspectives and overlapping timelines which mold the reader’s perception of Natasha and Daniel. The story gives you all the feels and makes you root for these characters. The book was an absolute treat to read because it beautifully interspersed important topics such as diversity, family expectations, and coming of age into the core romantic narrative.

Heartstopper - Healthy and Wholesome Love

Going into his 10th year at Truham Grammar School for Boys, Charlie Spring’s secondary schooling had got off to a rocky start. He was outed and bullied during his ninth year, and now finds himself in a less than healthy relationship. But when assigned to a new tutoring group split with the year above him, he meets Nick—one of the popular, but kind, rugby lads. The two quickly form a genuine friendship, though Charlie starts to feel something more.

Heartstopper is rather unique in its depiction of genuinely healthy relationships, which is, unfortunately, something literature aimed at teenagers tends to severely lack. Throughout the four volumes we see not only the main relationship, but also the side character’s relationships and friendships, exhibit very healthy methods of communication, conflict-resolution, and general good habits, as the entire cast of characters genuinely cares for each other. In addition, the book continues to display healthy themes through the mental health and recovery journey of the protagonist. It’s extremely refreshing to see such wholesome themes in young adult fiction, which often revolves around toxicity.

I thoroughly adored the artwork, characters, and story in Heartstopper, and I’m amazed at how Alice Osman the depth and breadth of issues Alice Osman manages to cover in such a short volume; from abusive relationships, to coming out, gender fluidity, and just day-to-day teenage life. Packed with diversity, Heartstopper is the most relatable and realistic representation of teenagers I’ve read. I’d recommend it to anyone who is trying to get back into reading, as it’s a shorter graphic with a fast-moving plot, and to anyone who just wants a nice and wholesome read.

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