Last week a fellow indie author offered to switch ebooks with me. I’d send along mine, she’d shoot me hers and we’d have the chance to read another’s work without paying for the privilege. I was excited about the opportunity, especially after reading a couple reviews by book bloggers saying they loved her book, going so far as to say it was one of their favorite publications in 2011. (Mine ranked up there too – much to my delight.)
I delved into the book as soon as it arrived on my Kindle application and was surprised at the superficial start. But wanting to give the book and author a fair shake I kept reading. Half way through I wondered what else could happen and where in the world the book was heading. There seemed to be no real direction, no plot, no purpose. When I finally finished the book – needing to force myself – a few days later I spent the next two days dwelling on it and attempting to determine the purpose and message.
It dawned on me this morning – the story was a modern-day love story. And when I say modern-day love, I don’t mean it takes place in 2011 (which it does), but rather a modern interpretation of what love is. Suddenly this banal ebook became enlightening in ways I never expected it to – and in ways I am sure it was never intended to be. It was down-right depressing.
Love, as seen through the book, boiled down to feelings and selfishness. Everything was as simple as does this make me feel good now? If the answer was yes, the main character went for it – drinking in excess, sexual relations with friends and strangers, joining a sorority, smoking pot, etc… If the character didn’t feel like it than the activity became something scorned and looked down upon – studying, picking a school for academic reasons, true friendships, relationships with substance, shopping with dad, whatever…
And the real kicker of the book was that the climax moment was when the main character realized she was in love, and has always been in love with her best friend. How does this realization come about? Is it a heartfelt cry while she thinks things through about the value and merit of their relationship? Is it a deep conversation held with someone she loves and trusts? No, the dawning moment came when the two characters finally gave in and had sex for the first time, after the prompting of their parents and close friends. Everyone was convinced jumping into bed would solve every problem and indecision they had; and apparently the author felt that was true too.
This ebook, which shall remained unnamed, is not alone in this 2011-definition of love. It’s worked its way into TV shows, movies and the majority of currently published books. It’s also wormed its way into the thinking and behavior of so many teenagers and young professionals.
The unfortunate thing is that these entertainment outlets can never fully show the true side-effects of these relationships that evolve only around feelings and selfishness. The superficiality of relationships and modern-day love is ignored, while people jump in and out of marriages and in and out of other’s beds. Whatever happened to love being about the other person? And what happened to books like Anna Karenina, which perfectly highlights the difference between a selfish love and a selfless love?