Books by Lorie Ann Grover

Books by Lorie Ann Grover
Kirkus Starred Review, Firstborn: "A fantasy that reads like a lost history tome and deftly examines issues of gender...An engrossing story with welcome depths."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Defending Bella, What a Girl Wants

Colleen Mondor at Chasing Ray has posted her latest discussion in the "What a Girl Wants" series. This time she asked us about vampires. I stuck with my position. Here you go:

Lorie Ann Grover
: "I don’t typically read horror, so I can’t comment on the general trend in the vamp books, but I have read the Twilight series. Awhile back, Martha Brockenbrough, author and MSN Cinemama, wrote an article with my opposing point of view: Does Twilight Suck the Brains Out of Teens? She fell on the yes side, and I fell on the no. Going back and reading my entry, I still agree with my position. Edward’s the hot, superhero in teen lit who raises the bar for today’s boyfriends. His looks aside, here's a quote:

“Note how completely enamored Edward is of Bella. He sees her weaknesses and finds her humanity endearing. He listens to every word. He never pressures her for sex. She pursues him. Into that perfect mix, pour danger, that alluring trademark of any great hero, just enough for tension to vibrate. We cheer as he denies himself because of his passion for her.”

Is Bella a passive role model for teen girls? I still say she can be seen as a positive role model. She isn’t consumed about her appearance. She’s strong in school and anticipates college. She thinks of others, acting with generosity to family and friends. She solves crises through her actions. So she’s attracted to a dangerous boy. She weighs her possibilities and acts.

In 2007, we hosted Stephenie Meyer at readergirlz. Next month we are featuring Graceling by Kristin Cashore.

Katsa is a very different heroine, but the sparks fly when she crosses Po. Who doesn’t like a little romance? I obviously do."


Tangerine said...

I have to say, it really gets to me when people attack Bella, because I honestly identify with her quite a bit. I was a shy girl who saw myself as awkward...even though I know I didn't trip over things like that. ;) They don't like that she's so dependent on Edward, but the fact is there are girls like that out there. And I know for me, finding a strong man helped me to become more independent. Which in the end is exactly what we see happen with Bella. I think that in any successful relationship, you balance each others weaknesses...and I actually feel that Stephenie did rather well with writing that. So, basically, all that to say, I'm with you. ;)

Lorie Ann Grover said...

Thanks, Tangerine! I appreciate your thoughts much.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read much anti-Bella stuff. I'm 39 & my whole girlhood was awkward, shy, lacking in self image & self esteem. Even now I can identify with how much I would have loved to have half her quiet wisdom, lack of submission to peer pressure, lack of negative self absorbtion & body issues, responsibility to study & pass her grades to get to college! Sure Bella has to be somewhat typically teenage, not physically sporty & not thinking she's beautiful, but that was in direct comparison to Edward & female vampires. In the fantasty world of Twilight, I'd have no problem if my two girls ended up having similar traits, as long as they didnt give birth at 18 to half human-half vampire babies ;)

Anonymous said...

I think the reason some attack Bella is because just as we relate to her, parts of her drive us crazy. I myself have found parts of me in her character. Some are my better parts and some are my not-so-better parts. My not-so-better parts frustrate me and there is where critics of Bella are just looking in a mirror I think. They see the parts that frustrate them. Also, I agree with Tangerine about finding someone to grow up with. That's how it was for me:) 17 years later and working on forever!

BeeMichelle said...

I absolutely think that Bella is a positive role model for young girls (heck, even for girls in their mid-twenties like me).

First of all, look at who Bella is: she’s a smart girl and a strong student; she isn’t boy-crazed or obsessed with her appearance; and she’s thoughtful and kind (she even treats Jessica better than she maybe deserves to be treated).

Second of all, look at the choices Bella makes: her thoughtfulness comes into play when you look at the sacrifice Bella made my leaving her current life in Arizona to go and live with her father in Forks (the decision was based on what was best for others, not necessarily for herself or her preferences); she didn’t jump on the first cute guy that gave her attention at her new school; she waits until marriage to have sex; and she isn’t pretentious in the accepting of a used truck as her vehicle of transportation.

As for her decision to be with Edward, I don’t take this as a bad one. If you’re looking at Bella as a role-model then you have to take Edward out of the vantasy world and put him into the real world. In the real world- Edward wouldn’t be a vampire- he would be a kid forced into unsavory circumstances who decided to rise above those circumstances and choose to be a better person (even more so than people expect of him). I would want my daughter to choose this kind of person; someone who is better than their circumstances; someone who is old-fashioned and respectful.

The only problem I have with Bella as a role-model is her sneaking around. I would have appreciated more honesty and respect when it came to Bella’s relationship with her parents. Please believe if I found out that my daughter’s boyfriend was sneaking into her room at night she’d be grounded for life.

The thing is- I don’t think (despite the book being marketed to “young adults”) that this book is for young girls. It is a grown-up story and intensely emotional. Bella may be in High School, but the author makes it clear more than once that she is more like a middle aged woman and that Edward is in his 100’s. I think you should make sure your children are old enough and mature enough to handle the intense emotional subject matter along with the grown-up situations these “children” are in (including war, marriage, sex, etc). If those reading these books are ACTUALLY old enough to really understand the story then you won’t have to worry about them understanding the good things about Bella as a role model and the things they should know are her faults.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm a weirdo, but I don't see Bella as lacking self-esteem. It's almost like that is an irrelevant concept to her. She was raised by a single mother, she was the caretaker, she was the responsible one. Her own 'self' is an afterthought to her, which makes me see her as supremely comfortable in her own skin. She's not obsessed with what others see. How many girls would go take a shower while a 'greek godd' is sitting on her bed (it would destroy their hair and make-up). She is comfortable in her own skin! In short, I think she is a very positive role model. I wish I were more like her, especially in that respect.

joeyspank said...

To me, the most important thing about the question of Bella as a role model is to look at the entire series as an emotional journey for Bella. She does a lot of growing in these books and the Bella in Twilight is a very different girl than the one in Breaking Dawn. She goes from completely insecure and obsessed, to total detachment from reality and depression, to learning to cope, recover and comproise (albeit in a fairy tale environ) and then to being able to determine her own destiny. Actually, the Bella who made me the most crazy was the one in Eclipse (mostly because it was painfully realistic teenage behavior). But the scene where Jacob tricks her is really an emotional climax for her. She learns a lot about needing to make her own decisions, seeing things as they are, and not allowing herself to be manipulated. By Breaking Dawn she is doing just that. I have heard a lot of people complain about the "lack " of Edward in the last book and I remember feeling his withdrawal from the story palpably. But there's no question that this was always Bella's story and, to me, the most important lesson for a young girl to take away from Bella's character is to learn from your mistakes. Not just the mistaken actions, but also the mistaken, overly strong, and wasted emotions. By the end of the series Bella is very independent and is learning to control her own power (metaphor, anyone?). It's about learning to deal with who you are and the choices you make. And based on what she learns about her own power (even Edward is in awe of her in the end), Bella is an excellent role model.

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