Friday, August 6, 2010

Take-Away Value: The Twilight Series

OK, I admit it, I'm a huge Twilight fan.
And I'm kind of tired of getting flack for that, without people bothering to ask me WHY I'm such a fan.

This isn't my regular manner of post, but I've been thinking of doing something different on Fridays anyway. So, since this is my blog and my place to state my thoughts, I'm going to explain what I see in these teen-crazed books that might help you see things in a different light... or Twilight, or by a New Moon, or ...

Well, let's get on with this.

I got into Meyer's series because of my teenage daughter. She wanted to read them, and I'd heard mixed reviews about the stories. And knowing, at the age of 16, if she wanted to read something, she would find a way. So I bought a copy as well.

Twilight literally grabbed me by the shirt front and dragged me through the story of an unlikely couple and it didn't let me go until the very last page. Dazed and confused, I picked up the next one and was even more hooked as Edward- the vampire boyfriend- leaves Bella- the human main character and a bit of a twit. (if you ask me.) I honestly couldn't put them down until the end. As the books got longer, that became bothersome.

What really got me, wasn't the intense action - there was none at first. Nor the intriguing literary style - her stories are very easy reads. But the story beneath this twisted love story.

The Take-Away Value:
The first thing that intrigued me was the vampire family themselves. There's a scene in the first book when Bella comes to meet the vamp family. I thought it was funny how they're making her a dinner and the underlying tension is everyone is hoping she doesn't become the main dish.

Sorry, let me get back on track.

Edward begins to explain how none of them chose this life. Carlisle, the "father figure" of the clan, was actually a pastor's son. When he became a vampire, Carlisle fought against what he'd become. In the book Twilight, Edward explains how Carlisle found he could satisfy his hunger by feeding on animals and realized, "He could exist without being a demon. He found himself again." (pg. 337 Twilight)

As the others were turned, they too didn't wish to be demons. Hating the life they now found themselves born into, they found another way to exist without harming humans, without causing damage. Though, their choice came at a sacrifice on their part. It was a sacrifice they found they could live with.

I've pondered over this story for some time. Being a teacher in a title 1 school, I've come across many children from low socio-economic homes, plagued with drugs, gangs and little hope of making much of themselves. Working with these kids is a big challenge because they have little drive to learn academics when their main concern is what they will eat when they get home, if they have a home when they get out of school and what chaos will they face when they walk in the door.

Yet I see them, some even as young as fourth graders, carrying around these books. When I get a chance, I like to sit down and say, "Hey, you know what I really like about that story?" First, they are usually impressed that I've even read it, and second that I actually like them. But it opens a door for discussion about rising out of whatever bad circumstances we find ourselves in and making choices to do the right thing.

Stephenie Meyer has created a story world where Choice is what makes or breaks you. Where sacrifice and selfishness are in constant battle with each other, and isn't that true in real life?

Edwards view on the sanctity of marriage is often at odds with Bella's more modern view of young romance. There's a scene in Eclipse where they are arguing over the issue of marriage. Bella is dead (excuse the pun) set against it. But Edward, being from another place and time, remembers the value of it when he says, "I was that boy, who would have -- as soon as I discovered that you were what I was looking for -- gotten down on one knee and endeavored to secure your hand. I would have wanted you for eternity, even when the word didn't have quite the same connotations." (pg. 277 Eclipse)

I liked how he desired Bella, but even more, desired to have something real, despite the unreality of their situation, something lasting and committed. When I talk to young girls about relationships, I want to point out that Edward had it right. It's more than just sex, more than just "being together" its deeper than that. It's a commitment. A commitment that last for one's eternity.

Opening Doors to Discussion:

Most importantly, I'm glad that I took the time to read these books because of the opportunity it's created to discuss some deep issues with my daughter s. Like how Bella is a bit too worshipful of Edward, and too careless about her soul. Not every part of the books speak good, as I said earlier, I find Bella to be somewhat of a twit. However, it's created some great debate about her and other characters and what they stand for.

Maybe, as parents and educators, we need to not slam to door to things we haven't read ourselves. I encourage parents to monitor what their children read, but understand, if they are older, it's nearly impossible to keep them from reading what they want. I could have avoided the book, but I would have missed out on a chance to connect with my teenager and other young kids as well.

So that, in a nutshell, my friends is why I'm a Twilight fan.

Be blessed and if you feel the need to respond, please do. I only ask that you keep your words kind and not condemning.

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