This week, I’ve been reading two books: Jodi Picoult’s LEAVING TIME and Nora Roberts’ MONTANA SKY. Both are for a class I’m teaching, and both are excellent books. But reading them in tandem confirmed to me why I prefer romance.
LEAVING TIME is gripping, a page turner. 9/10 of the way through, I didn’t know how it would turn out, even going so far as whether one of the main characters would survive. Although it’s a great story and beautifully written, I actually had to stop reading at several points and settle myself by reading some solid romance.
MONTANA SKY has some dark moments and chapters. Betrayal, domestic abuse, and even murder are integral to the plot. Yet while the book has disturbing elements, I’m not disturbed… because I know everything will turn out all right in the end. Justice will be served. Love will win.
I like that.
It’s not that I have had a trouble-free life, nor that I think all endings are really happy. While I’ve been blessed in many ways, I’ve had my share of disappointments and dashed hopes… just like most people. Thing is, I don’t want my entertainment to be like life. I want it to be better.
I want the books I read, and the movies I watch, to be uplifting and hopeful. I want to feel better when I come out of the movie theatre or close the book, not worse. I want the day’s frustrations and troubles to be obliterated by my choice of reading, not echoed in it.
And that’s the type of book I want to write, too: books that readers can trust as an escape from whatever reality they’re facing. I want to write books that can help a frazzled young mother find a few minutes of peace. Books that can offer a caregiver—who knows that her loved one, struggling through radiation and chemo, is probably going to lose the battle—a few moments of hope and happiness. Books that can help a gawky, acne-faced teenage girl believe that there’s a boy out there who won’t tease her, but will instead see the beauty within.
Believe me, I love Shakespeare’s tragedies, and I celebrate much literary fiction for its artistry and philosophical insight. But for my own pleasure and recreation—for my own calling as a writer—I’m sticking with books that guarantee readers a happy ending.
What about you? I know you enjoy lighter reading and happy endings, or you wouldn’t be visiting InspyRomance. But do you also enjoy deeper, darker, and more ambiguous literature? What’s the right balance for you?
Comment to be entered in an early Christmas giveaway for two books that DEFINITELY have happy endings!