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Tuesday, March 21, 2006:
My First Romance Novel and How It Affected Me
Right around the time I discovered adult romances, I was still reading YA romances, like the Sweet Valley High books, and the Bantam "Sweet Dreams" books.  They fit in a little more with my own expectations of romance, though some seemed a little childish to me.  I guess that's why most avid readers read at a level much higher than their age range.  I was at the point where I was caught somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
 
From that time, there is one book that stands out for me during those years, and it was from Bantam, and it was actually #1 in the "Sweet Dreams" series.  It is this book, "P.S. I Love You" by Barbara Conklin.
 
Cover
 
What is so special about it?  Well, there will have to be spoilers here to give you the full reasoning behind my everlasting love of this book.  (But before I go there, I want to mention that I always wanted to be the girl on the cover.  She is so pretty, with soulful brown eyes and long brown hair, which I never had growing up.  There, I had my little superficial moment).  So, the story is about Mariah, an aspiring novelist, who is all set for summer until she finds out her parents are getting divorced, and she goes with her mother and sister to Palm Springs to house-sit.  While there she meets Paul and falls in love for the first time.  Over the course of the summer, Mariah feels all the highs and lows of young love - the joy of being with someone who makes your heart race, the insecurities of believing you're not pretty or interesting enough to hold a cute boy's attention.  But Paul is not like that, and as time goes by, it becomes bittersweet - Mariah finds out that Paul is very ill.  He has cancer.  She is angry, and afraid, and desperate to get away from the worst case scenario.  I remember reading this and hating that the author ruined their love story.  I thought it was cruel to make Paul sick.  I cried every time I read it.  I cried for Paul and the life he would never live, and for the pain Mariah experiences when she loses Paul, and I cried for the strength she draws from her memories of her summer spent with her first love.  Their story was both magical and tragic, capturing so well those intense teenage feelings, yet by adding the very real and tramatic element of death, it projected that intensity to a higher level.  It was both a celebration and a memorial to the relationship, one that was made all the more poignant by the characters' ages. 
 
The author decides not to let Mariah grieve indefinitely, however.  There is also a 2nd book called "Falling In Love Again" (see, same girl) that follows Mariah as she grieves for Paul, and eventually begins to care for someone else.  I enjoyed the story, but at the same time I couldn't help but wish that Mariah hadn't found someone quite so soon.  Paul was special; he was her first love - yet I think it was important to show young girls that life does go on, even when something truly tragic happens, and that you can have feelings for someone else, and not feel guilty about it.  I don't remember the other boy's name, but I guess it's not that important.  What was important was that Mariah did move on, and that it was with someone mature and understanding of her feelings for her first love and who found her to be very special because of it.  I believe things happen for a reason, and that Mariah had to experience these events exactly as they happened. It made for a richer, stronger story that still stays with me to this day.  Thank you Barbara Conklin, wherever you are.....   
 
 
 
 

10 Comments

  1. Stacy I fell in love with the Disney movie The Moonspinners, the first romantic movie for Halley Mills. I was in the 6th grade and when the movie credits said that it was based on a a novel, I went to the library and found it. Of course the book was even better and my love of the romance genre was born...


  2. Stacy, that's my book! My first love story, this was the one that got me hooked. I still have it and cherish it to this day. I didn't know there was a second book, and I'm kind of glad I didn't, and now I'm going to pretend there isn't. That sweet, tragic feeling has stayed with me all these years, and probably always will. Thanks for writing about it!


  3. Stacy
    I remember this book. I read it when I was in high school. I absolutely loved it and I remember how wonderful it was. I still have my copy and I have tried to get my daughters to read it, but neither of them would.
    Thank you for reminding me about it. I think that I read this whole series of books.
    Lori


  4. I love the Sweet Dreams series though by the time I was at the age to read them, it was close to the end of the series. I read quite a few young adult novels with romantic undertones. I'd have to say my favorite were the Heartbreak Cafe books. I was so sad that the series ended after only 6 books, but I really enjoyed them all.
    And LuAnn, you reminded me of one of my first favorite movies I discovered on the Disney Channel: Summer Magic with Halley Mills. I used to watch it every summer when they'd show it.
    Wow, this is making me remember some good times. Thanks:)


  5. I love this book!!! I read it 13 years ago when I was twelve years old. The first time I read it I had gotten it from a friend. All of these years later, I still thought about how good this book was and I ordered it from amazon so that I could read it again, and maybe have my daughters read it one day.


  6. Hi Stacy - I am from the UK and this was my first romance novel also. I read it when I was about 12 which was 23 years ago now !! I have just ordered it from the internet so that my daughter can read it - it had a profound effect on me and I still list it as one of my favourite books of all time. Chrissie :-)


  7. This was the best book i have ever read i read it 10x over and cried everytime ....I cant find it now.... but im doing my assignment on it :)your comments really helped


  8. i just wanted to let you know, the pretty girl on the cover with the soulful brown eyes is a very young Jeanne Tripplehorn! :D

    i think Courtney Cox showed up on a few of these "Sweet Dreams" covers as well. check out this link:
    www.gofugyourself.com

    thanks!


  9. i became popular in my high school because of this book...my schoolmate thought i look like that girl in the cover...LOL!!!!
    I love the story although i really think it's a sad one.


  10. Stacey I still remember the first time i read the book and up till now i can't forget it!! I even used the qoute in that book in my own life! here's the exact word which i memorized since the time i was a mere 16 yrs old. "When i fall in love it will be for always, nothing will change that no one will walk out. We will stay together forever, and when death finaly separates us, we will have the memories we shared. He will be that kind of person. I will know him instantly when i finally meet him and he will love me forever." Too bad i never got a copy of the book i only borrowed it from an old friend. I even want to get a hold of the sequel but i guess being in the philippines makes my reading life a little harder. I was wondering if you could maybe scan your copy and send it to me through my email. If its ok? I really wanna have a copy of both books. Hope you understand. Heres my email address: sidlen11@yahoo.com. Hope you'll consider my request and i'll be forever thankful!


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