Let me start this post by saying that I am by no means a prude. Do I sometimes err on the side of caution? Yes! But in my opinion, that's the best side to be on. Regardless, I am curious to know what other chick lit fans think about how old you should be before you start reading contemporary women's fiction.
It's not as if there isn't a huge market of teen chick lit out there to satisfy the squishy-butterfly-in-your-tummy feeling that you get from a great male lead. But at what point should a girl step into the shoes of an older woman's romance. Whoa! Hold on there! Don't get ahead of me! I'm not talking about bare chest book cover books. Smut is not the topic here. I'm talking about romance stories that involve characters in their 20's and beyond. Let's face it, a young girl already has enough confusing information about men, love, and relationships. Do we really want them to get lost in the dreamy existence of a book character?
Many of us got into this romance game early on. For me it was the Sweet Valley series, though I never really realized it was "romance". The first real romance book I read was Pride and Prejudice by the Godmother herself, Jane Austen. How was I supposed to not fall in love with Mr. Darcy? How many others had fallen before, and after, me? In fact, go to Amazon.com right now and type "Darcy" into the search tab and look at all the books women have written about that man. Talk about a dreamboat!
My worry is that if young girls start reading romance books written about women in their 20's, 30's, and 40's experiencing love, what is going to happen to their relationships? I am not naive enough to believe that all teenage girls are chaste and angelic. However, I wonder if reading books about women who fight, and lose, the battle between what they know they should do and what they actually end up doing is what is best for them? Are we letting them mature too fast in their reading? It seems silly to question it, after all it's just fiction, but I wonder about these things a lot. Kids are growing up too fast. They're taking on responsibilities at an earlier age than they should. I teach ten year olds who know things that I didn't know when I was eighteen! Is it better for them to learn about these things in a book or in real life?
I bring this up because several reviewers have mentioned that 'A Week at the Beach' would be appropriate for a teenage girl to read. I disagree. I'm the author and I disagree. I don't want teenage girls reading the book and making the same choice that Cami makes. Is that wrong of me to not want a group of readers to read my book? I certainly don't think my writing is so amazing that it's going to inspire girls everywhere to go out and hook up. (Oops, should I have said *Spoiler Alert*?) I write stories to entertain women. I like to escape into the fantasy of a cheesy romance because I am aware that real life, and real men, are not like what I read in a book. If the world was littered with Nicks, or any other chick lit male character, then we wouldn't need silly romance books to escape into.
Should teenage girls be escaping into that world? Have they lived, loved, and lost enough to earn that escape? Look what happened when Stephenie Meyer gave them a mash up of several great male characters. The teenage girls came out in droves to chase Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner down the street. Of course, their moms weren't far behind, but frankly being the mom to a teenager automatically gives you the credit you need to escape from reality for a few hours!
So, to those of you who read this blog regularly and to those of you who have just stopped by, what do you think? Should there be an age restriction on chick lit? Let me know what you think!
Oh...wait! I just realized that if they put an age restriction on chick lit what is to stop them from putting an age limit on children's books and YA books?!?! No more Harry Potter? No Hunger Games? No...I can't live in that world.