I've never been one for romance books. Or movies. There's something incredibly frustrating to me about the miscommunications, thinly veiled romantic tension, tearful confessions, and heartbreak the romance genre is famous for. Sometimes I want to sit the two romantic interests down for a couples therapy session, sometimes I just want them to kiss already, and sometimes I want them to go their separate ways and find new fish in the sea. Occasionally, I scream at my TV or book, "If you'd just TALK to them about how you feel you wouldn't be in this mess!" Maybe it's my fear of interpersonal conflict, or perhaps I'm still recovering from the emotional rollercoaster that is La La Land. Whatever the case, the drama of the will they, won't they romance has always stressed me out.
So why do I find them so fun sometimes? The humor, the heartache, and the happily-ever-afters. For folks looking to get into the V-Day spirit with some romances where the tension is palpable, these titles may be for you. Here are some of my favorite, most frustratingly perfect will they, won't they romances:
Last year, I began reading the classic 80s manga series Maison Ikkoku by Rumiko Takahashi. The romance manga follows Godai, a college student making do in a run-down apartment building with his lively neighbors. They drink too much, party til the odd hours of the morning, and constantly interrupt his studies, but Godai stays. Why? The beautiful widowed apartment manager Kyoko. Throughout 15 volumes, it becomes clear that Kyoko and Godai have strong feelings for each other, but nosy neighbors, pining tennis coaches, and an abundance of misunderstandings keep them apart. I've been enchanted and frustrated by this series for just over a year now, and am anxiously waiting for the library to purchase the 10th omnibus volume where hopefully, these two fickle lovebirds will get a moment of peace and quiet together. If you're looking for an animanga will they, won't they, pretty much all of Rumiko Takahashi's main characters are strung along in a never-ending cycle of almost-romance.
This classic by Charlotte Brontë follows the titular Jane Eyre, a plain orphan girl, as she makes her path in life. Eventually, Jane becomes a governess at Thornfield Manor, owned by a brooding man named Mr. Rochester whom she falls deeply in love with. After saving Mr. Rochester from a fire, being tricked by a fortuneteller in disguise, and meeting rivals in love, Jane must face one more obstacle before she and Mr. Rochester can marry. I don't want to give anything away, so let's just say Rochester has a
wife in the attic, er, skeleton in his closet.
This charming movie follows Oliver, a young man who has had little luck in love. After his mother's death, Oliver's father Hal comes out as gay, finding joy and acceptance in the LGBTQ+ community after decades of living in the closet. Meanwhile, Oliver finds himself growing closer to a French actress named Anna. As he hesitantly opens up to her, he reflects on his parents and their unconventional, platonic love. Internal doubts and long-distance demands threaten to keep Oliver and Anna apart as Hal's health begins to decline. This slow-burn movie will have you laughing, crying, and reflecting on your own past loves.
A list of my favorite will they, won't they's wouldn't be complete without the musical Guys and Dolls. This upbeat Broadway classic features not one, but two will they, won't they couples! Nathan Detroit regularly hosts illegal crap games in bustling 1950's Manhattan, but with the cops hot on his trail, he has no venue. To try and bag some quick cash, Detroit bets fellow gambler Sky Masterson that he won't be able to take a Christian mission girl to Havana. Romance ensues as Nathan and Sky gamble for love. This movie has everything- Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra, gambling, and a soundtrack you'll be snapping to.
-Hannah Parks is a Youth Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.