Now we’ve reached the last week until the big day, it seems like we can’t get away from the red and pink hearts displayed in stores and homes. As Enrique Iglesias sings in “Escape,” “You can run/ You can hide/ but you can’t escape my love,” we too find ourselves surrounded. I even find myself (coincidentally) following the mail truck during my actual runs and smile at the thought of the notes my best friends have sent and that others may soon find in their own mailboxes. Some people convince themselves this holiday only works for couples but, as I’ve mentioned previously, it celebrates all love. Consider an opportunity to celebrate with a friend who may feel more like hiding due to loneliness. Really, Galentine celebrations have always ranked as my favorite get togethers, so I’ve invited a girl friend to join me this year.
Mega hit pop star Taylor Swift notoriously writes songs about love, and they’ve held universal appeal since her debut as a teenager. Her song on the Valentine’s Day movie soundtrack “Today Was a Fairytale” makes no exception. The sweet ballad holds a simplicity in its love story. Life gets heavy, and so does love. However, the sweet small details surround us. Take a moment today to remember the people who love you, who “told me I was pretty when I looked like a mess.” Feel that magic in the air as love notes travel miles, love songs hit the airwaves and loved ones call just to say, “I love you.” We need not live in a fairytale to experience the loving details of one.
The hit book Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts captures the spirit of community, and thus Galentines, in the story about young Novalee moving into a Wal-Mart and having her baby there. Abandoned by her boyfriend and the father of her child, Novalee finds herself in an unfamiliar small Oklahoma town. Yet upon leaving the hospital with her new baby Americus, she finds a new home and mother figure who opened her home after one brief meeting. She develops a close knit group of girl friends who show up for each other in times of need and times of celebration.
This story unexpectedly had me turning pages, imagining the bonds shared in the Oklahoma town. Though seemingly simple, Novalee shows a lot of growth as well as inherent wisdom as she devours books at the library and learns from her experiences. She possesses an admirable strength as she pushes forward despite knowing she may not have the ideal life situation. Her friends remain at her side to support her efforts to care for Americus, hones her skills to develop a photography career and opens up to an opportunity for love with a top pick of the litter.
Our Galentines can do the same for us. Just yesterday my friend showed up during a time of disappointment for me. We’ve been meeting regularly to support some mutual goals and provide support, but yesterday showed extra care. Not long after, we both felt better and witnessed improvement in our projects. Another friend has showered me with cheesy Valentine notes to join me celebrating my favorite holiday. My conversations with her already brighten my days regularly, but these cards add extra sunshine. With quality friends by our sides, we can stand stronger and move forward together.
Always and Forever, Always and Forever Laura Jean, books, Eleanor & Park, Galentine's Day, Jenny Han, Kasie West, Lara Jean, love, meet cute, Peter Kavinsky, Rainbow Rowell, relationshhips, teens, The Fill-In Boyfriend, To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Valentine's Day, YA, young adult
What says young love better than a young adult novel? The angst we associate with teenage years seems to continue to adulthood, so I enjoy the familiarity and nostalgia of high school. In honor of young love, I’ve compiled a short list of young adult stories I’ve read recently that fit a Valentine’s Day theme.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: This book ranks high on my all time favorite list, and I recently reread it for a book club. Eleanor and Park each fall into the misfit category, and they stand on their own so strongly and uniquely. Reading how they fall in love as they share comic books on the bus and start to spend time together makes me feel like I’m falling in love for the first time with all the thrill, agony and uncertainty that comes with it.
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han: My Galentine and I have wrapped up our reading of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy, and I recommend all three. The third installment moves from the original sweetness to the mix of fun and seriousness that befalls a high school senior. Lara Jean faces choices about college her relationship with the almost too good to be true Peter, and of course she goes to prom. I always say yes to reliving prom, and I can still relate to the weight of decisions about direction in life.
The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West: Prom gets another mention here. In this story, a breakup just before the dance leads Gia’s to find a temporary fill-in. The relationship becomes more real as Gia gets to know her fake date. I love Kasie West for upbeat cute stories with a little relatability. This story gets that and reminds me I don’t stand alone in wondering how much to let people in and how to let go of a desire for approval.
For my Sunday Ritual this week, I’ve added silver and pink glitter to my manicure and watched Clueless. The movie ties into a Galentines theme with its focus on friendships and matchmaking. While we tend to get caught up in the romantic side of love for Valentine’s Day, love between friends counts just as much. Cher and her best friend Deon welcome Ty, the new girl at school, into their inner circle. Together they face the perils of driving lessons, grades and unrequited love. At the end, it’s the girls having a good time together that matters.
My love for love goes back many years. Well before I ever had a Valentine in the traditional sense, I eagerly awaited my favorite holiday so I could give sweet (or cheesy) notes and chocolates to my friends. Even now, my favorite angle of this season revolves around my besties. My email preview of my mail shows me I have another Valentine note arriving soon, so I feel excited to open it. It is a trade for the crafted notes I have outgoing for my friends to receive later this week. As we start a new week, let’s consider a friend who might enjoy a sweet note celebrating friendship’s love.
Fun Fact: Clueless has inspiration Jane Austen’s Emma. A Jane Austen novel or screen adaptation works perfectly for Valentine entertainment. Mr. Darcy does reign as a beloved romantic hero.
Fortunately, I have friends who know me well considering I have received my first Valentine no more than two days into the month. Soaking up the glory of all the small acts of love is like soaking the grease of a cheese lovers pizza into a napkin. Let that love ooze out in cheesy acts and words so those around us know they are loved. I know I feel loved, so I want others to feel the same.
Thank you to my awesome friends riding the Valentine high with me. Keep your eyes peeled for love notes and your ears ready for singing voicemails.
As we reach the middle point between the 17th anniversary of A Walk to Remember’s theatrical release and Valentine’s Day, let’s take a moment to appreciate its legacy. The movie would reach its senior year of high school this year if it were a person. The young protagonists in this teenage love story find themselves caught up in an unlikely love story in one of the early, and one of the better, Nicholas Sparks novel screen adaptations. Jamie Sullivan models a lived faith where she willingly helps those around her regardless of their past, and Landon Carter shows us that with support people can improve themselves.
As we walk into the month of love, let’s consider how we can show love to others, maybe even to those society brushes off as hopeless. Landon asks Jamie to run lines with him so he won’t make a fool of himself in the spring play, and Jamie agrees so the whole production won’t suffer. She gives Landon a chance to live up to his challenge. Take a look around you. Is there someone who could use a loving hand to accomplish a task or who could use the company of someone supportive? Start with showing up and being willing to help even with what seems like a small favor. Big changes happen through a series of small steps.
I received a copy of Summer by the Tides by Denise Hunter from NetGalley.
Summer by the Tides makes for breezy fun at the beach as a positive summer read. After losing her treasured job and her boyfriend, Maddy returns to Seahaven to find her missing grandmother. Her two older sisters, who are estranged from each other, arrive at the cottage as well. The family goes through the physical and emotional process of clearing out the attic and their past. Maddy even finds a nice, handsome next door neighbor. The story unfolds rather straight forward and predictably, making it a comforting read as you imagine beach waves just off your porch.
Look for this book on May 21 as it releases just in time for summer.
In (500) Days of Summer, a movie in my all time top 10, a story of boy meets girl begins on January 8. Hopeless romantic greeting card writer Tom sees the new assistant Summer and falls into a moody love at first sight. However, as the narrator informs us in the film’s introduction, this boy meets girl story is not a love story. The romantic comedy shows us a couple effects of falling into a Summer Daze.
- A sweet boy meets girl beginning does not always have a happy ending. Watching Tom notice and pine after Summer has its sappy appeal. It gets even better when they ride the elevator together and Summer tells Tom she also likes The Smiths when she overhears his music. Once they finally start spending more time together and Tom feels like he’s grasping his dream girl, Summer communicates her intention to not have a serious relationship. Tom agrees, holding out hope that she changes her mind. People often fall into this trap in real life. Tom has the facts and chooses to continue spending time with Summer at his own risk, knowing she does not reciprocate his intentions or desire.
- The meet cute always holds the most potential. When Summer and Tom first see each other, they do not know each other’s details yet. This time holds the most potential as they do not know of any reason not to pursue interest; the fantasy realm hasn’t shattered the hope that the other can fulfill the dream. Tom falls into a deeper level of interest in Summer once he learns that she too loves one of his favorite bands. He finds a detail that keeps his interest and increases their compatibility. This gives him reason to pursue more knowledge and to see if their values and relationship perspective might mesh as well, a more important factor to consider that he later ignores much to his detriment.
- A relationship, failed or successful, shows the individuals who they are. Summer finally opens up to love and accepts a serious relationship, and marriage, after she splits from Tom. Spending time with Tom helps her see a new possibility as she learns to trust others, beginning with her friendship with Tom. Tom experiences tremendous heartache, but he eventually channels his energy into developing his architecture skill to pursue his career field again. He chooses to select his own direction rather than stay in his current situation simply because life has unfolded that way. He too takes another chance on love as he awaits his opportunity to interview for his dream job. Hopefully this time he knows a little better how to navigate communication and intentions.
Today we see January 8 on the calendar. Maybe we don’t have a boy meets girl experience today. We can still consider the knowledge we have and use that to navigate our direction and choices, whether we understand the information the first time or after we fall. The best potential comes after the Summer Daze fades.
I received an advance reader edition of Katherine Center’s upcoming release The Things You Save in a Fire from NetGalley.
I’m happy to write that this book is the second Katherine Center book I’ve read this year (the advance copy of this year’s How to Walk Away my favorite read this year), and this has lived up to my anticipation. The Things You Save in a Fire follows 26-year-old Cassie as she moves from Austin to a city outside of Boston to reunite with the mother her left her ten years prior. Cassie transitions into a life where she works with a new firefighter crew that vastly differs from her Austin crew and where she has closer contact with her now sick mother.
As a teenager, Cassie learned how to close herself off to protect herself emotionally, and she continues to grapple with those effects as a young adult. She exhibits physical, mental and emotional strength as she lands her spot as the most highly valued crew member. Despite her previous captain’s advice to not show emotions as well as to not develop further relationships with another crew member, Cassie finds herself facing new emotional territory as she works with the rookie, whose status makes his nickname Rookie. This gentleman makes a perfect romantic lead, one admired even by the rest of the crew. While he may seem almost too good to be true, he makes a likeable character worthy of interest; I appreciate seeing a nice, respectful guy receive the affection of the lady. On that note, some descriptions about him or the team dynamics at the fire station get borderline cliché at times. However, the overall story hits a sweet note that has some depth to it.
Though mostly on the sweet side, this story also dives into themes like forgiveness. Cassie and her mom make a good example of how to ease into trust and how seeking reconciliation impacts the possibility of a genuine connection. Through her experiences, Cassie learns how to deal with her past and move on more open to relationships. The story falls short of giving that a full exploration since it ends at the end of the bliss of the first step of healing, an important one but only the beginning. Forgiveness sought and given gets multiple perspectives here, showing each one’s importance. This point serves as a good reminder to all readers.
I have enjoyed How to Walk Away a little more than The Things You Save in a Fire, but both have sealed Katherine Center as an author whose new releases I follow and seek. I appreciate how she’s written characters in my age group and shown positive messages, surprisingly an accomplishment I haven’t seen often. Now I would like to check out her back catalogue.
Thank you so much NetGalley for giving me an opportunity to read this book early!