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A YA Romantic Fantasy in Real Life

Monday, February 27, 2012
Characters in Love
The Totally True Story Of How I Lived Out a YA Romantic Fantasy in Real Life

LOVE. Pretty loaded word, right? I mean, how do you even KNOW you're in love, really? What do you base your assessment on? What do you compare the experience to?

When I was growing up, the actual relationships I saw around me didn't give me a lot of hope for romance. The boys in my class were idiots. My parents fought a lot. Most of my friends' parents were divorced. So where were all these terrific magical feelings we were supposed to aspire to?

For me, the answer was always books. In the pages of my YA novels I could always find girls being surprised by flowers, sneaky kisses, adorable secret admirers... and in one book in particular, a girl named Kate actually got to go out with the soap opera star she'd been in love with for years.

The book is You Never Can Tell by Ellen Conford. In the story, the main character is obsessed with a guy on a soap opera who plays a sexy bad-boy named Brick. Then one day, it turns out the actor who plays him is going to her high school! They meet! He has a crush on HER! Craziness ensues!!!

I must've read this book a hundred times. And every time, I hoped that Kate would not act like a lunatic and mess the whole thing up – she wanted the guy (whose real name I can't remember... because, let's face it – Kate didn't care what it was and neither did I) to be like BRICK, you see, and not himself. (It didn't end well, as you can imagine.) At no point did I stop to think about how impossible the whole scenario was in the first place – I mean, really? A soap star in a high school? TV teenagers are played by 25 year olds. Everyone knows THAT.

It didn't matter.

I wanted a gorgeous guy who existed far outside the realm of my reality to suddenly burst into it, look around, and choose ME. That was love, obviously. And you know what? It only took 20 years for it to happen.

Not bad, if you consider.

Yes - I actually went on a date... with a soap opera star. He's a friend of a friend, and we went to dinner one night in the dead of winter. He was unbelievably handsome and charming and polite and funny and smart. Just like Kate, I spent the first part of the date looking around the restaurant thinking: “Is everyone here wondering what this crazy-hot guy is doing with a regular girl like me!?” But unlike Kate, I got over it. I had a terrific evening. I charmed HIM. I was rewriting the book! It was all happening!!!!

He was an excellent kisser, I'm delighted to report. (As he should be, with all that professional practice.)

Then he went back to Hollywood, and I stayed in NYC, and that... was that.

And you know what?

I still remember the book version as being more exciting. I still remember Brick. Because the sad (or great?) fact is, books are carefully plotted out to give you the maximum suspense and intrigue that will make that love scene pack a wallop. Real life just sort of marches along and takes you with it.

So. What's the moral of the story? Definitely not that romance in books is better than real life – don't panic! I wouldn't do that to you. Just that it's different. Characters who are in love let you peer through a window at them. You can watch what they do and learn from it. You can figure out what you'd have done differently. And you can relive their fun - their romance, their mistakes – over and over, whenever you want.

That comes in very handy when you're 12. Or 25. Or... well. That's enough sharing for now, methinks.

About the author
Meredith Zeitlin is a writer and voiceover artist who lives in Brooklyn with two adorable feline roommates. She also writes a column for Ladygunn Magazine, changes her hair color every few months, and has many fancy pairs of spectacles.

In case you're wondering whether any of Kelsey's experiences are based on Meredith's own, the answer is NO WAY. When she was fourteen, Meredith looked and behaved perfectly at all times, was never in a single embarrassing situation, and always rode to school on her very own unicorn.

Check out the book trailer | book website for Meredith's YA novel Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters.
You can pre-order the book at Amazon (Hardcopy) | Kindle | B&N | Book Depository
6 comments on "A YA Romantic Fantasy in Real Life"
  1. Thanks so much for sharing a little bit of your own life and fears and dates with us:)

    I love what you said, that it's hard to know when you're in love and that life sometimes kinda takes the magic out of it. And that by reading we learn to deal with things better.

    But it's great you had your own Hollywood date - now the bets are on for the star's identity!! (what soaps are your faves?;))

  2. Thanks for sharing about your life. So interesting about your date. Such a weird coincidence since you loved that book about the soap opera star.

  3. you cannot get the identity out of me! not even for a million hot fudge sundaes!

    well. maybe a MILLION.

    i'm so glad you liked the post - everyone should get to have a sparkly-fun night like that at least once, right? ;) xo mz

  4. Ever since getting a DVR, i've always wanted to have the chance to rewind and replay some special moments in my life. the moment mz had could be one of those moments alas, that would only be possible as a fancy plot twister in book :) -sg

  5. Lovely post! I too remember always fantasizing about some fancy dreamboat man singling me out and thinking I'm special. Because we all want to feel special. Especially at 12, but still at 25. I think what I have learned through loving and losing and now loving and finding, is that as much as we want to feel 'special' it is always better to have someone think we are 'precious'. Loving us not because we stand out in some dramatic way but because we stand by them and them by us.

    Thank you for your honest sharing about all our secret hopes of love. And congrats on the hunky soap star...that friend who set you up must think you're pretty special :)

  6. Love this! Although there are plenty of things I wish I could re-live (or re-do) from high school, I much prefer life as an adult woman who can, as you say, rewrite the book! Thanks for sharing!


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