I first learned about love triangles in Charles Shultz’ cartoon, Charlie Brown. My heart ached for Peppermint Patty’s unrequited love for “Chuck”. Her awkward attempts to move them out of the friend zone made me want to call him a Block Head! Yet I still cheered on Charlie, hoping he and Patty’s BFF, sweet-natured Marcie (such a great foil for the aggressive Patty) would finally get together. The hopeless situation was endlessly fascinating and equally painful. Kind of like growing up… and in contemporary Young Adult novels, that’s what it’s all about. Love triangles in novels work well when they represent a deeper conflict for the main character- figuring out who she or he is in order to know whom he or she loves.
In CAMP BOYFRIEND, our main character Lauren, has always identified herself as a lover of science, an outsider, and Marvel superhero fan- well… Spiderman to be exact. Don’t even get her started on why he kicks every other superhero’s butt. You’ll never win that argument… trust me. She’s found acceptance with her quirky cabin mates at Munchies Manor at Camp Juniper Point and love with her best friend and fellow science nerd, Seth. Yet his wish to avoid long distance relationship problems means he’s convinced her to end things at the end of the past two summers. So far she’s accepted that, but now she wants more… especially after a year spent in a new school where she lost her braces, glasses and catapulted to popularity by dating the school’s star quarterback, Matt. She’s come to realize that she’ll never truly fit in with that group and breaking up with Matt is the first step to returning to her old self… only it’s not that easy when his parents’ divorce means he gets to ask them for what he truly wants, to attend camp with Lauren.
In this way, CAMP BOYFRIEND’s love triangle is more than just a conflict of a girl deciding between two hot guys; they each represent a part of herself. Deciding between them isn’t just about knowing her heart, it’s about discovering who she is- part of her journey in the summer of CAMP BOYFRIEND. Some might say, why does she have to choose which type of girl she is- geek/outsider vs popular/insider… and that’s the heart of the book- the understanding that labeling is a stop sign on realizing your true self. Lauren needs to accept that she can be all things, even if her friends and the boys in her life are slower to come to those conclusions than her. Ultimately, this summer read is a fun romance that also speaks to issues of self-acceptance and not judging one another or ourselves.
Here’s an excerpt in which we see Lauren struggling with this issue:
How ironic that I’d come back to camp to get back to the things I’d loved, especially Seth. But Matt had stopped that chance and, suddenly, I was glad he had. What was so wrong with liking dance and astronomy? Cheering and the science club? The popular and the outsider cliques? The problem was, I hadn’t realized I could do both, be both. If I’d gone back to Seth right away, I would never have learned that.
I looked over at my drying wedge sandals by the fireplace. They were awesome, even if they had slowed us down. And yeah, I was the girl who worried about weather-induced hair frizz.
So maybe I had changed. And Seth had a point about letting my dreams lapse. But why couldn’t he see through the make-up and clothes to the person who still thrilled at the site of a meteor shower and drew constellations on her notebook covers?
I laid back, tired of justifying myself. “That girl’s gone, Seth. I’m different now.”
Seth stretched beside me. His amber eyes searched mine in the shadows between us, a wistful smile lifting the corners of his mouth.
“It’s not a bad thing,” he agreed, his fingers toying with my curls. “I just miss the old you sometimes.”
I closed my eyes and enjoyed his touch, knowing it wasn’t going any further. After all, he cared about someone else, someone I’d never be again.
“Sometimes…” I edged a little closer to ease the empty ache inside. “…so do I.”
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. To learn more about CAMP BOYFRIEND, check out our website at http://www.campboyfriend.net or at http://www.facebook.com/JKRockwriters. Love triangles can be great, but- for me- the choices need to be more than just about the boys. Please share your thoughts on love triangles in the comments section below and be automatically entered to win an autographed copy of CAMP BOYFRIEND, currently available on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. Thanks so much for stopping by Scene 13!