T.O.T.Week: love watch

In my adolescence, going through my mandatory phase of indifference, the swelling chords of a final rom com kiss scene, books or movies, made me want to gag. She’s running through the terminal! Will Love Interest X be there there? Is it too late? Well, of course it’s not. There’s a formula, people. Then came the ones that intentionally ended without the kiss, the run through the terminal, without the description of one’s heart bursting out of their skin as the book comes to a close… and I was still dissatisfied. I believe my exact words tended to be, “Well, that was bleak.”

So, here’s what I enjoy when it comes to love. I love the sheepish grin of a fourth grader as he AirDrops (yes, we’re in 2023) a note to the girl across the room on his iPad that says, ‘I like you. If you like me cool, if not then don’t tell anyone I sent this.” I love the laughing howls at a brunch with friends to discuss how you ended up in the dorm with not that person you’d eyed in seminar all semester long, but the random roommate she’d dragged to that night’s party. I love to watch a kindergartener announce with glee, “They’re getting married!” Oh, and “they” happens to be their stuffed animal giraffe and the twig they discovered at recess. I love the glow of a sixth date when you reveal that yes, girls fart too. I’m my grandfather’s granddaughter in that for me, it’s all in the observational humor that I am here for when it comes to love. I love the messy middle, the “haven’t quite figured it out’-ness, and the (ugh, Bachelor Nation really ruined this word for us) journey that love is waiting to take you on, through, up-down-and-all around. I love the curiosity, the willingness to laugh at one’s mistakes, the innocence, the appearance of wisdom that comes with those mistakes, and the ability to almost look outside of the love of it all and learn something, find humor, or do better the next time around.

When it comes to love, no one really knows what they’re doing. Here’s four books that lean into that novelty, which I can definitely get behind. With Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis’s picture book, audiences get the question directed back… What Is Love? I pair this with BeKa and Maya’s The Love Report, as two girls set out to quantify the flirtations occurring in their middle school. Happily Ever Afters, by Elise Bryant, tells the story of Tessa Johnson who knows all there is to know about romance because she likes to write about it so much… right? And finally, I just finished Everything I Know About Love, by Dolly Alderton, the perfect cap to our understanding that what we actually know is the sum total of our experiences… so, in actuality, not a whole lot! At the end of the day, we’re all just trying to answer the irreverent question posed by Tina Turner… what’s love got to do with it?

What Is Love? by Mac Barnett and Carson Ellis (picture book)

The Love Report by BeKa and Maya (middle grade graphic novel)

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant (YA book)

Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton (adult memoir)

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