It’s Valentine’s Day, which means everything that resembles a heart will be overpriced, restaurants will be bursting at the seams, and getting a movie ticket will be next to impossible! Hurrah!
It’s no surprise that I’m writing this post since I’m such a lover of love. I have listed some romantic tropes I’ve come across in literature and illustrated them with a few books. I know we’re all probably tired of reading love-related posts, especially my aromantic friends! But I have had this idea in my head for months, so please bear with me (there may be the promise of chocolate at the end of the post — shhhh!).
In all seriousness, I absolutely love Valentine’s Day. It’s the one day of the year when everyone is reminded that they need to do more little gestures for their significant other. Leaving all the commercial schemes aside, I love this day because I’m a sucker for love. I love watching rom-coms, I love reading romance books, I love seeing couples hold hands on the street, and I love showing love. I guess you can say I go a little overboard.
Love at First Sight
Maddy & Olly — Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Everything, Everything is a young-adult novel about Maddy, a teenager suffering from an incredibly rare autoimmune disease who can’t go outside. Ever. She lives with her mom in a house that was custom made to accommodate her. One day, a new family moves in next door and Maddy’s mind races at the thought of Olly, the new neighbor.
This is the classic love-at-first-sight relationship. Even before they have exchanged two words, Maddy is already infatuated with Olly. And the same can be said for him, too.
I have a love-hate relationship with this trope. It takes a really skilled writer to make me invested in this relationship and to not discard it as immature and childish. Unfortunately, most of the books I’ve read that had instalove as a defining feature of the relationship I ended up not liking.
Oops! (aka, not supposed to happen yet here we are)
Anna & Étienne — Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
This novel that could win the first prize in the most-cringeworthy-book-title-ever award follows Anna, an American teenager studying in Paris. Her family has shipped her off to the Old Continent to a boarding school, but Anna is not prepared or willing to go there. During her senior year of high school, she meets French classmate Étienne St. Clair.
Étienne has a girlfriend when he meets Anna, but this doesn’t stop either of them from gaining interest in each other! I absolutely loved this book (and the relationship) when I read it in 9th grade, but now? Not so much…
Warner & Juliette — Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi
The Shatter Me series is a dystopian young-adult trilogy (now a quartet but it will always be a trilogy to me!) that centers around Juliette, a seventeen-year-old girl who has the gift to kill humans and animals with her touch. The Reestablishment is trying to use her as a weapon, and they are led by Warner, a young and ruthless general.
Obviously Warner and Juliette are not supposed to be together — she is being held captive under his command! But I couldn’t help myself and I just had to ship them (as did more than half of the fandom). Warner is a great person for Juliette to surround herself with. He lifts her up and makes her feel like she’s not the devil and helps build up her self-confidence. These two were my obsession when I was fifteen.
Eleanor & Park — Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park is a young-adult contemporary set in the 1980s in Nebraska. When a new girl moves to Park’s school and he gets stuck sitting with her on the bus, he’s ready to skip town and never come back. In Park’s mind, Eleanor is just one more problem to add to the others he already has — people making fun of him for being Korean, having to deal with strict parents, and so on. Eleanor isn’t that fond of Park either. To her, he’s just another mean kid making fun of her hair, weight and clothes. But as time goes on, they form a bond that seems to be unbreakable.
The love/hate trope is my favorite when it comes to romance stories. There are so many books I could have chosen to illustrate the trope, but the list would go on and on and on! I can’t really explain what draws me in so much, all I know is I can’t not ship these couples. Eleanor and Park are one of my favorite literary couples, as well as one of my favorite books. I can’t wait to reread it when I have time again!
Elizabeth and Darcy — Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
This book needs no introductions, nor does the couple, really. Mr. Darcy comes from a wealthy family and is a very wealthy man himself, while Elizabeth Bennet has two sisters and her parents aren’t as well off as they could be. Mrs. Bennet’s biggest wish is for all her daughters to marry to wealthy husbands — after all, this was nineteenth-century England!
Coming from such different economic backgrounds makes Elizabeth and Darcy quite different from each other. I love this trope because it forces both characters to grow and defy what they think they know about the world. I am always on the lookout for books that have this trope.
Allyson & Willem — Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Allyson Healey is an American teenager on a trip to England. When she and her friends go to a Shakespear performance by amateur actors, she catches a glimpse of Willem (one of the actors) and is utterly fascinated. Deciding to split from her traveling group, Allyson decides to follow Willem wherever fate takes them — which ends up being Paris. By the end of the one day they have spent together, they share a deep and odd bond. When Allyson wakes up the following day, she discovers that Willem is nowhere to be found, and so decides to go back to America. Back in her home country, she is scheduled to go to college with the goal of getting into med school, but the day she spent with Willem has shaped her in ways she wasn’t expecting.
Willem is clearly Allyson’s first love. She is immediately head over heels with him and it’s heartbreaking to see her go back to America without any chance to get in touch with Willem. But what I love most about the book is not the romance, but the growing up Allyson does by herself. It might be one of my favorite coming-of-age novels.
Dimple & Rishi — When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
When Dimple Met Rishi is a young-adult contemporary that centers around Dimple’s life at a tech summer camp in San Francisco. The thing she wants most to do is to be in the tech world, just like her idol and camp creator. When her parents send her to spend the summer learning all kinds of new things here in San Francisco, she’s thrilled. What she doesn’t know is that they have been talking to Rishi’s parents and secretly planning the pair’s marriage, as per Indian culture. Dimple and Rishi start off in the wrong foot, but as the summer progresses, they become closer and closer.
I don’t like arranged marriages one bit. They just don’t make sense to me! The idea of marrying the one you love has always been my definition of a marriage. I think this is the only book I’ve read where there’s an arranged marriage, at least set in our modern-day world. I absolutely loved When Dimple Met Rishi. It’s such an adorable and wholesome book!
What about you? Do you like Valentine’s Day? Who are your favorite literary couples? I would love to read your opinions 😄