I read Twilight about six years ago. It was after the third book in the series came out, but before there was a movie. I wanted to know what all the buzz was about, because I’d heard both raves and pans. I began reading and was pulled right in to the relationships portrayed. Then three hundred pages into the book, it suddenly had a plot instead of just a relationship. I enjoyed the book, but then I started to think about it. The more I thought, the more things I found that were of concern. It is one thing for a grown woman to read it as escapist fantasy, but I worried about young girls who were still forming their ideals for relationships. There is so much unhealthiness in the relationship between Edward and Bella. I was also concerned that Bella is so blank. She only makes one decision in the entire book and has to be rescued from the disastrous consequences. When my teenage daughter, Kiki, decided to spurn the books and join the anti-Twilight camp, I was glad and I never bothered to read the rest of the series.
Fast forward about six years.
A few days ago Gleek brought home Twilight from her junior high library. She told me that she had it, almost embarrassed, not sure that this was a thing that was allowed. She knew that lots of people hate the book. She knew her older sister dissed it. Yet she read the back cover and it sounded interesting to her, so she brought it home and she asked me if it was okay for her to read. Then I had a decision to make. At twelve, Gleek is at exactly the impressionable age that I was concerned about reading the book. If I told her not to read the book, she would probably obey. She’s a good kid. But I also know that the reason she’d obey is because she trusts me and I want to retain that trust. Someday she may ask to do something that I really feel is bad for her, something she wants desperately, but I have to deny. On that day I want her to know that I don’t just say no on a whim. I want her to trust me. Honestly, Twilight does not merit that level of concern. It is a romance book, probably no worse than half a dozen manga books that Gleek has read. So I told her my concerns about the series. We had a conversation about relationships and stalking. I told her why people love the book and why others hate it. Then I let her make her own choice. She decided to read it.
She loved it and will certainly be reading the rest of the series. And so will I, because I want to be able to talk about the things that happen in detail. I want to be able to reference specific scenes as examples as we have an ongoing conversation about how teen and adult relationships work. We’ll get to talk about how all people want to be desired and protected, but that those drives can lead them down dangerous paths if they are not wise. Those are really good conversations for us to have when she is twelve and most of this stuff is theoretical. So I suppose that a young girl reading and loving Twilight can be a good thing, which is not something I thought I’d hear myself say six years ago.