In my youth, love seemed always around the corner, sticky sweet as summer popsicles, sudden and quick as a lightning strike, the only thing holding it back was the ripe promise of tomorrow or a door opened. In short, love seemed easy. But with time, all the things with the potential to hold love back gradually made themselves known: the walls erected around us by society or that we foster within ourselves. Love, I eventually learned, was complicated and slow, needed battling our worst natures, undoing what we’d been taught, reaching across time and space to nurture. Wars were fought over it. Wars ended because of it.
My favorite books are often fantastical, featuring werewolves, alien arrivals, and superheroes. But what makes them the books I’ll love forever is that whatever boundaries, walls, obstacles, and internalized taboos exist in their worlds, the characters’ attempts to reach across boundaries simmer deep. Sometimes these attempts end in tragedy, limitations that continue to confound, romanticizations that reveal themselves to never have been true. Sometimes they end triumphantly, the characters emerging into new understandings of themselves, what they are capable of, and the possibilities of their love.