So what is the appeal? Obviously there's quite a market for death-and-disease books in the YA genre, right? Lurlene's kind of got this market cornered, but it's not just her, and clearly kids want to read these. I would have read each and every one of these as a kid if I could have gotten my hands on them.
And let's see:
- I myself never suffered from a serious illness.
- No one in my immediate family suffered from a serious illness*.
- None of my friends or romantic prospects suffered from a serious illness.
The always-fantastic Tiny Pants sent me some information about the book Loving with a Vengeance: Mass-produced Fantasies for Women by Tanya Modleski, who said the following about gothic novels for women:
On the other hand, [death] endows the woman with something like 'tragic hero' status: "What can a heroine do?" asks Joanna Russ in pointing out that men have taken all the active plots. She can die. And in dying, she does not have to depart from the passive feminine role, but only logically extend it. On the other hand, death can be a very powerful means of wreaking vengeance on others who do not properly 'appreciate' us, and it is in this form that the fantasy of death can be found in Harlequin Romances, which, with their happy endings, seem on the surface to have nothing in common with the tragic Clarissa plot.Considering that in many ways, Lurlene's books follow the trajectory of a simple teen romance novel (and many are in addition to being disease books), is this what's going on? Girls can land a big plotline, but only by doing something super passive like DYING.
Anyway, I am really curious to hear why you guys think you used to be so fascinated with these books, or - if you weren't - why others were... AND STILL ARE.
*at the time of my reading these books