Letter to the Editor

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Dearest Editor:

There are not enough queer characters in the young adult romance genre these days. (Or, honestly, ever.)

I mean, let’s face it, it’s true. How many stories have you read lately in which the primary romance wasn’t between two cisgendered heterosexuals? Try to name a few of them, and it becomes quickly apparent that unless you actively seek out romance stories that don’t feature straight characters, it’s unfortunately tricky.

So many young adult novels focus on the epic transformative love story of a girl who lives a drab, dull, horrendously boring life until she meets an endlessly fascinating young man who introduces her to a fascinating life, and the whole affair blows up into…a drab, dull, horrendously boring and, worse, trite storyline that has been repeated, frankly, far too many times to be still interesting.

People tend not to get tired of romance, but wouldn’t it be great if people could get over the “dull girl who meets interesting guy and begins to lead a charmed life” storyline and put in, well, a plot that isn’t overused? Characters of any gender identity or sexual orientation would be fantastic, because, please, we don’t actually live in a world in which everyone is straight. (Or even interested in romance. But that’s another story.)

“Ash” by Malinda Lo is a fantastic take on the Cinderella story in which Ash, the Cinderella figure, meets the prince, sure, eventually, but falls in love with the palace huntress far before the infamous ball. And David Levithan’s story “Every Day” chronicles the love of Rhiannon and the genderless A, who inhabits a different body every day. Both are fantastic love stories, with no shortage of fabulous romance and non-heteronormative characters.

And so I ask writers everywhere to ditch the tired girl-meets-boy storyline, challenge preconceived notions of romance, and consider the wondrous possibility of writing about queer relationships for a change.

Cheerfully,

Katie Sittig-Boyd