Friday, November 21, 2008

Another Soapbox: Twilight

Yes, I know what comes out today...the Young Women in my ward have kept me informed... and since I'm already on my soapbox, now might be a good time to admit that I'm not a "Twilight" fan. Dare I do that in the world of women's blogging? :) I hope you don't feel as though I am being self righteous or judgmental in my honest evaluation, my intent is neither, truly. I know many a Molly Mormon who love the series and have kept their testimonies in the process. :) Please allow me to unravel some feelings in an unedited manor...

My husband and I recently had the thrill and honor of speaking about morality and standards with the youth, and I have taken a special interest in the influence of the media, especially on our young people. I have a deep love and concern for the dear Young Women that I serve and pray to be able to support them in their efforts to stand up in a world with decreasing standards of morality. It's safe to say I am on the cautious end, interested and invested in avoiding and recognizing the clever ways the media creeps in and alters our realities.

Onto my review...

While reading the first book, I was surprised at how intrigued I was by the vampire content (which I later regretted reading after some disturbing dreams). I found myself interested in the imagination of the author and the vampire world she created. It was fun to relive the exciting moments of high school and dating, thinking back upon those first stirrings of attraction. Then, I began to be troubled by the relationship. The obsession, secrecy, dangerous passionate desires, and even deceit. The vampire cravings that seemed so sexually charged left me uncomfortable and embarrassed. The unrealisitic and unhealtly way romantic love was being portrayed. I worried about how this book might encourage young women to think of themselves and how love should be. They have enough voices telling them they aren't pretty enough, good enough... more in need of the temporal, pleasurable. Heaven forbid they begin to think that they need to have some Edward to really find themselves and be happy. I would not wish for any of them to feel like they are Bella, whose self confidence and worth, purpose and happiness seem so completely dependent upon another persons love. Surely this is not "accepting and acting upon the values" of divine nature or individual worth.

I felt discouraged by the focus on the physical and hoped that the remaining books would portray a more grounded, tempered, virtuous relationship. However, I was not inclined to continue reading beyond the first book (which I'm told is the least suggestive) so I have only heard the remainder of the story through family and friends. Is it safe to say the relationship continued and even increased in it's suggestive, sexually driven, how "close to the line can we be" format? I don't have an adequately informed opinion since I haven't read all the books (although I think I've heard enough to assume as much).

Some women have said that the hidden (yet stimulating) sexual innuendos came as a welcomed surprise for their husbands. That they had an extra little spark (if you know what I mean) in their marriage. A positive outcome for such a reader. But what happens for our young people who may get such a spark of provoked (even as slightly as it may be) sexual feelings? To what degree do we allow ourselves the entertainment of sexual thought? Although sexual abstinence before marriage is heavenly commanded and to be highly commended, isn't our virtue more than just refrainment? Is not our virtue the very measure of our thoughts and desires of our heart?

Virtue is the chiefest beauty of the mind, the noblest ornament of humankind. Virtue is our safeguard and our guiding star that stirs up reason when our senses err.”(The Virtues of Righteous Daughters of God) ...And most surely our senses can err.

Believe me, I am not embarrassed to speak about the joys of sexual intimacy within marriage. I want all the youth to know how awesome it is and that it should be appropriately anticipated. Sometimes there is an unhealthy silence about this subject than can lead to curious premarital exploration or guilty conscience complex in a marriage. While sexual intimacy is exciting and an important part in supporting love in a marriage, I hope they know that it is not the greatest, strongest, or most needed part of a lasting marriage. (Oh' how I hate the world for trying to tell them differently) An eternal relationship is so different and so much more than that of Edward and Bellas'. Real love is formed on trust, honesty, mutual respect, understanding, communication, service, self worth, and sacrifice. And-Yes, there is exhilarating chemistry! Yes, there is exciting attraction! Yes, there is crucial longing for each other! Heavenly Father made us to be together, to need each other...But not in a desperate, uncontrollable, I'm nothing without you kind of way. But rather in a bridled, eternal, charitable, kind, strengthening, selfless, rest of forever, pure joy way.

Now why can't there be a book about that.

( I guess we have our journals)

Of course I don't think the book is terrible. I'm not naive to the alternatives presented to our youth. Hopefully open communication and involvement with parents in the reading of these books could lead to positive experiences and increased understanding. I am simply disappointed at the influence this book could have on a generation so desperately in need of Heavens' view.

Carry on my dear friends. :)

* I received the following review of the Twilight series a few weeks ago and was shocked when I read it! Let me warn you that it is negative, and disturbing . I think it's important to expect morality in our media and to review, question and scrutinize what we choose to participate in. I am inclined to believe that the author of this review, Camille Turpin, was extremely worked up and spent an excessive amount of time reviewing the books to compile an overdramatic list of it's flaws. She's certainly entitled and encouraged to share her concerns and, while I can't say whether I agree with her or not, I post her opinion for two reasons:To stir interest in parents to be informed/involved with the material their children are reading,
and.... because I have to ask- do these events really occur in the books? If so, how are they to be justified? Please don't bother taking the time to counter all her points, just generally speaking, (those who have read the entire series) what validity is there in this review?

"I was a big Twilight fan. It was fun. It was fluffy. It was a nice change from all the heavy stuff I usually read. And the author was LDS. But as the series progressed I became more and more disenchanted. Then came the last book in the series, Breaking Dawn, in which the main characters, a human and a vampire, get married.
I could write all day about the things I didn’t like about this novel– it was poorly written to say the least – but those are the flaws that make me merely roll my eyes. What makes me angry is the sneaky sex stuff, disguised as a contemporary teen romance/fantasy/ vampire story. That’s why I’m now a Twi-hater. All I could think of while I was reading the last two in the series were two questions I often ask myself when presented with something I want to read/watch but I’m not sure I should: What good can come of it? And what bad can come of it? At the very best, the good that can come of the Twilight series is the idea that young people can wait until marriage to experience physical sexual intimacy. At the worst, it introduces girls and women of every age to edge-of-the-cliff sexual 'morality' and unhealthy, extreme, and twisted ideas about sex, marriage, and motherhood. To illustrate, I made the following list of wrong and harmful ideas presented in the Twilight series.
*Dangerous people are sexy (Twilight pg 190/Entire Series)
*Love should be enduring no matter how unhealthy or dangerous it is for you (Twilight/Entire Series—Edward agrees to turn Bella into a vampire so they can be young together forever)
*Some people think it's not a good idea to have sex before marriage, but it's fun to see how far you can go before you cross the line (Eclipse—Edward wants to wait until they are married to have sex, but Bella wants to do it before then. Edward insists he is trying to protect her virtue—which she laughs at—but they are having this conversation on a bed which he has provided while he kisses her neck and puts her leg over him)
*If you use self-control, you can go really far before actually having intercourse (Eclipse/Entire Series—Bella and Edward are constantly trying to push how far they can go physically before he is out of control, which means he may kill her at any moment.)
*Even if you think premarital sex is wrong, sleeping together and sneaking around behind a parent's back is ok (Twilight/Entire Series—Edward spends each night in Bella’s room, listening with supernatural hearing to her father in the next room to make sure he won’t come in.)
*Parents don't know what's good for you in terms of love. (Bella’s mother is very critical of youthful love/marriage because she is divorced. Bella treats her as though she is a child who needs to be taken care of. Bella’s father does not like Edward, but Bella continues to see him anyway.)
*Marriage is something to be feared, and which may ruin your enjoyment of sex. (Eclipse—Bella wants to have sex before they are married because she hates the idea of marriage and wishes they could just have a physical commitment. He wants to wait until after she is a vampire because it could be dangerous for her. She refuses and only agrees to wait until marriage as long as she gets a real honeymoon while she’s human. She constantly complains about marriage—see BD Chapter 1.)
*Sexual intercourse is the best part of love, marriage, and human life. (BD page 482—'Our time on the island had been the epitome of my human life. The very best of it. I’d been so ready to string along my human time, just to hold on to what I had with him for a little while longer. Because the physical part wasn’t going to be the same ever again.')
*If sex is good, it will probably be violent. (BD Chapter 5 and 6. Edward bites pillows, shreds clothing, creates bruises all over Bella’s body, and breaks headboards apart. He tries not to do it again, but Bella convinces him to and downplays her injuries.)
*If sex is violent, it will not hurt you as long as you are really into it. (Bella does not notice the destroyed pillows or her bruised body until she wakes up the next morning. Pg. 89)
*The more violent and out of control the sex is, the better it is. You might destroy things, but that just means it was great. (Bella has dreams about sex after Edward refuses to do it again until she is a vampire. She wakes up and convinces him to do it—page 106-107. He destroys a headboard and they joke about it. Later on they decide to do it again and make a joke about destroying the headboard again—page 117.)
*In a perfect world, we would desire and be able to have intercourse all night long, and wish it would go on longer. The best possible scenario would be for our bodies to never wear out and for our desire to be constant. (BD page 482-483)
> *Sex is more enjoyable if our partner's body is perfect (BD page 482). If you really love your partner, you won't mind if they are in love with someone else too, or that they want them around all the time (Bella loves her 'best friend' Jacob, and desires him physically in New Moon and Eclipse. Jacob is desperately in love with Bella. Edward brings Jacob to Bella and lets them have a dance at their wedding, and then allows him to hang around afterward). In fact, if you really love them, you won't mind if they have sexual intercourse with someone else (Edward, thinking their baby is dangerous and should be aborted, asks Jacob to tell Bella they could have a physical relationship so Bella could have less dangerous children—BD page 180, 181).
*Sometimes people might desire a child to be their mate. It's innocent as long as they don't act on it till they are older (Werewolves often 'imprint' on another person, meaning they have found their mate and cannot control whether they want that person or not. Jacob 'imprints' on Bella’s half-human infant).
*When you love someone, you desire them physically every moment of your life. You will have to distract yourself with daily life in order to keep your mind off of sex, but it always there, in the background, and can be turned on at any moment, blocking out everything else (Bella is constantly losing concentration and forgetting totally about her child when she looks at Edward and thinks about sex BD page 487).
*It is normal and good to picture a person you love naked before you are married (BD page 349).
*As long as the actual motions of sexual intercourse are not described in detail, it is ok to write and read about a physical relationship between a married man and woman--including where they are, what they are wearing, how long it went on, the positions they end up in, that certain motions of their bodies will stimulate sexual desire, and how they felt during the process (BD chapters 5 and 6, and especially page 481-485).
*If you really desire your partner, you might tear each other's clothes off, destroying them in the process (BD page 481).
*You have absolutely no control over who you love and how long you love them. Once you find that person, it is easy to love them and you will do anything for them. If you really love each other, you won't have any real problems (Entire Series—imprinting idea, Jacob and Edward are willing to risk their lives several times over for Bella, and in BD after they are married Bella and Edward never have a single argument or hardship. Their entire life is a happy honeymoon with a perfect child.)
*The pain of losing someone you love is so painful that death is better in comparison. If you really love them, you'll never ever get over losing them. (This idea is expressed several times mostly in New Moon and BD. Edward is going to kill himself when he thinks Bella is dead. Bella wishes she were dead after Edward leaves her, Jacob wants to kill Edward if Bella dies and Edward makes sure he promises to do it, etc.)
*Sexy people are tall, muscular, perfect. Normal people just seem so childish. (Bella doesn’t take highschool boys seriously, and is only in love with vampires and werewolves who are superhumanly strong, tall, hot or cold, etc.)
*Sexual intercourse is the most important part of marriage. (Again see BD 482 and subsequent vampire life.)

Here are some additional disturbing events and images in Breaking Dawn.
* The heroine/mother drinks blood while pregnant and her baby drinks blood from a bottle.
* Pregnancy is portrayed as horrific, involving the fetus breaking the mother’s ribs and pelvis, giving her huge bruises on her abdomen, and the baby sucking the life out of her from within.
* In the childbirth scene the mother vomits blood and is ripped open by her vampire husband’s teeth, the baby bites the mother immediately after birth, the mother dies in the process of the birth, and the vampire bites and licks her body back to life.
* Vampires gather from all over the world to save the vampire/human baby, and the heroine/mother and hero/father do not mind that they are drinking human blood and murdering the local population. In this book vampires are not ghouls and devils but superior beings.
I heard somewhere that Stephanie Meyer had concerns that this last book in her series had content that was too mature for some of her fans and tried to have a warning put on the book, but the publisher wouldn’t allow it. Please. As if a warning would have kept 11-year-olds from reading Breaking Dawn after they had been so cleverly hooked with three previous books. When you begin a series for young people, you have a moral obligation to keep it geared toward young people. We can only surmise that somewhere along the line Stephanie Meyer, our own wildly successful LDS author, sold out. Everybody knows sex sells.
-Camille Turpin


Sally said...

Oooooh, Sara, you're so controversial! You already know how I feel on the matter, but I didn't know all that stuff about the later books, cause I only read the first two. Yikes!

Love those pictures of those cute girls! How was your Evening of Excellence? I didn't realize it was Wed night until I ran in to Bro. Dalgleish on his way there. I bet it was so great!

truebluejae said...

I have no opinion either way on the Twilight series because i could not get past the first chapter of the first book--I felt too far removed from high school to feel I related to Bella. Anyway, I appreciate your comments on morality. You are a great role model to everyone, Sara! Love ya--Jae

RaeLynn said...

Well I'm definitely not the right one to comment about whether the accusations are true or not because I only read the first two books and couldn't bring myself to read the last two. But I will say this--that is DISTURBING. And if I had a daughter that wanted to read beyond book 2, I wouldn't let her. I might get blasted for this comment--and you might get blasted for this entire post...but that is what sets you apart from the crowd Sara. The popular thing isn't always the right thing.

Amanda said...

I have not, as of yet, read any of the Twilight series. At first, it just didn't seem interesting...then I started hearing mixed reviews...and now, so many people are trying to get me to read it that I just want to push back even harder. After reading what you wrote, I wonder if I should even read them at all?

I am not one to enjoy romance books. I feel too much like a voyeur peeking into someone's bedroom. A good love story, I'm all for--just not the heart-pounding, Hollywood-style romance. Life just isn't like that!

I, like you worry about the images and portrayal of "true" love in the world today. Because of the importance of the family, and specifically of a righteous marriage, Satan works so hard to try and portray love as intense and exciting all the time. It's not--because, as you know, it's so much deeper in the emotions than that. Good for you for standing up for what is right and good. I know your Young Women will benefit from and feel your testimony of the truth!

Kelly N. said...

I am glad you posted this. I have mixed feelings about these books. I have read all four and read the first three in four days. Then after I read the fourth one, I was really embarrassed when I knew that my mom and little tweens were reading this too. I wouldn't want my daughter to read these books. I enjoyed them because I am already married, but I do not think it was meant to be for young adults. It is scarey how all these little girls are freaking out because of Edward and how they need their own Edward. Now, I will admit that I am excited to see the movie on Saturday night. I am going with 34 friends and family. to be honest though, I am kind of embarrassed that my mom is going to be there and 12 year old girls viewing all the sex appeal this movie has to offer. Just writing about it makes me want to sell my books. It also makes me appreciate wonderful love stories such as the Jane Austin books, Jane Erye, North and South and other classic, beautifully romantic books. Good thing they are all made into movies and that I can feel comfortable watching and reading them with my daughter.
**When are you coming back to Provo? I would love to see you again!

Kelly N. said...

I forgot to mention a book you should tell your YW to read: The Goose Girl! It is my favorite book. Why can't they make that into a movie?

Amanda said...

I just came back to read other comments and I HAVE to second Kelly N.'s last comment. The Goose Girl (and I would say all other Shannon Hale books, minus Austinland) are PERFECT for Young Women! They are clean, but with some wonderful love story qualities. I am planning to acquire all her books (minus Austinland) so my girls can read them when they're older.

As for Austinland, it's not bad. It's just written for an older audience and has a few scenes. Nothing that embarrassed me, actually, just not what I want my teenage girls reading.

H-less E-less said...

I sure appreciate you all understanding the way in which I intended this to be received. I so appreciate your opinions, honesty, and insight. I'm looking forward to reading some Shannon Hale books!

jamiegilson said...

I'm almost scared to comment because I LOVED the books. I was thankful I'd returned them before reading the 4th book because I was so caught up in it that I was ready to ignore my family for yet another week just so I could read and enjoy them again. (I told myself I'd have to read them slower so I wasn't ignoring my family AS much.=( Oh I'm terrible. After I calmed down and got over the CRAVING (what else can I call it), I couldn't believe where these books ended up on my priority list. I'll admit it. Disney movies took care of my kids for over a week.

As I read Camille's critique, I couldn't deny a thing she said. Yes. It's all true. And my excuses are ... well all the normal excuses anyone can come up with for the small stuff to be o.k. ex. It's o.k. because I'm already married or it was just a little bit. I was able to convince myself in the I think it was the 4th book that the sex was o.k. because they were finally married. She didn't go into detail, but yep. The images were placed in my mind because the details were enough that you knew what was going on. No I couldn't imagine letting my teenagers read these books. But that's where it always starts doesn't it. Satan's little lies. Just a little here and a little there. It's not pornography ... or is it? Aw man. But I really liked the books.=(

P.S. I loved your commentary on teaching our children that sex is a beautiful and amazing thing. I highly recommend the book "How to talk to your child about sex" by Linda and Richard Eyre. (Any parenting book by them is fantastic ... but then again this is coming from a Twilight fan.=) The unhealthy silence ... you hit it right on the nose. Thank you for this post.

And I agree. I wish we talked more you busy YW woman.=) Hopefully one of these days I'll be at play group when other people are there too.

Rachel said...

Controversial is right! ha!
You go girl.

Ya know, I've read almost the whole series... I've enjoyed them okay, but haven't LOVED them. I'm not obesessed, yet haven't had a problem with the content.


the fourth book. As I read it (and again, I haven't finished it...) I kept thinking of all those young women out there reading it and I hated the thought. It was very inappropriate in my mind. So many people say that it's so mild compared to what else is out there. True. BUT still. It's not appropriate. It still crosses a line I don't want my girls reading. (However, they've both picked up the first book this last week... hmm...)

Anyway, thank you for your honest and very upfront post on this. It's awesome that we can all have our own opinions/likes/dislikes in this world.

H-less E-less said...

Jamie, I love you. Your comment just made me smile. I am so happy you got over feeling "almost scared" to share your feelings. I really love this... Women being able to share, openly, unashamed, honestly. Once we break down the barriers of feeling like others are judging us and get over the tendency to compare (which I think I do more often than I realize), we can really learn so much from each other.

I would take any recommendation that you give (even if you loved Twilight ) ;) and am looking forward to reading the Linda and Richard Eyre book.

Thanks again

RaeLynn said...

I am going to add that I loved Austenland. I thought it was a great book.

Rebecca said...

I have to say I have not read the books either. There are a few reasons...I don't like feeling pressured into doing something. I feel like if "everyone is doing it" that is a good reason for me not too...this has saved me from many a heart ache in this world. The other reason is because about a year ago my mom too was a young women leader and began reading the first book. When she started reading things she felt she didn't want her young women reading came up she put the book down and hasn't picked it up since. This has been a very hard thing for me to avoid doing as so many of my good friends have read and loved this series. After reading your blog, I am feel now more than ever good about my decision not to read them. That being said I don't claim any "holier than thou" position, because I am sure I would have loved the series had I read it...I am just grateful to have steered clear. I am very grateful for your comments and admire your ability to stand for what I feel is true and pure virtue. We need more YW leaders like you. Love you Sarah!

Shannon said...

I really enjoyed the Twilight series. Ok, ok, definitely not stellar writing, but a fun, creative, involving story. I think it was too risque to be classified as young adult, even though the heroine was in high school. If I had daughters I wouldn't want them reading it, but I didn't think that it was inappropriate for adults. I liked that it reminded me of that exciting, new relationship, falling in love stage of my life. After 5 years of marriage it made me remember what that felt like and helped me try to re-spark things in my relationship. The forever long commentary by Camille whats her face was pretty ridiculous, I thought. I honestly do not believe that people who liked the books read that much into them and took all those things to be their new personal philosophies. I'm also not saying that none of them were true, but seriously, it's a STORY. FICTION people.

One rebuttal. It bothered me that she was so judgemental about Stephanie Meyer. Ouch. She has no right to insinuate that she is not a good person or "sold out" or is going to be the cause of the demise of our society. I mean, come on.

Also, if you think about the Harry Potter series it also became MUCH more adult and dark as the books went on and the readership spread from 4th and 5th graders to the entire world, pretty much. I don't think JK Rowling is amoral because of this. That is how her story took shape.

Finally, yay for Shannon Hale!!! I have read all of her books and adore them. Goose Girl is by far my favorite, but I will read anything she writes. I hope that everyone will sort of just chill out about these books. They are just a story. I'm pretty sure the absolute majority of women and/or girls who have read the books and liked them have not formed or re-formed their moral values based on this. Hope I didn't sound like a wench in this comment, I just am sick of all the over-analysis of it all.

Lara said...

I just clicked through from somewhere else...hope you don't mind if I comment.

Anyway, I really loved your thoughts, and that is so much of what I think about the books. I have 3 daughters, and I am not sure I want them to read these before they're married! Mostly for the reasons you have stated.

I read all 4 books, but I didn't like any of them very much. I read them to find out what the big deal was. After finishing book 4 (and 3) I was horrified to think about how many of my Mia Maids and Beehives were reading them, or had read them. I was also pretty sure that their mothers hadn't read them first.

The review by Camille is a little tiny bit over the top, but not by much. All of the events happened. And she's right. I was very bugged at SM after reading the fourth book. I think she went too far. She told her publishers that she would not put premarital sex in the books, but knowing who her audience was, I really think she shouldn't have put marital sex in, either. It just wasn't a good idea.

Jared and Delia said...

Sara...thanks for sharing. I appreciate your ideas and opinions very much.

I did read all four books. I agree that number 4 was too racy and I did not like it that much, but finished it because I was hooked into the story. I definitely am also worried that these are targeted to young women. I feel like these books are definitely not for tweens and most teens.

That said...I did enjoy the series myself and look forward to the movie but I am not a fanatic.

I have to also give a shout out for Shannon Hale. I like all her books. May I recommend A Book of Thousand Days (I am not sure if that is the exact title...but it is something like that). Austenland clearly states that it is a novel for adults so hopefully youth are not picking up that book thinking it is like her other was pretty darn racy for me...and I was VERY disappointed that Hale - an LDS author - promoted cohabitation in that novel (I don't want to give it away so I will not say more, but that book was not my favorite).

Marlies said...

Wow! Interesting post and equally as interesting comments. Thanks for both. Those YW are very lucky I'm sure they LOVE you. I just have to say that I myself have not read them and I am glad I haven't after reading that post. I don't have anything against others who have read them, but I don't like the idea of neglecting my family (which is what I do when I get into books which I am sure I would have with this series) for fantasy. I also don't really care for romance sexed up novels because I feel that it sets up in my mind unrealistic expectations for my relationship with my husband. Things are great why do I want to book to give me thoughts otherwise? It does make me sad, however, to hear the negative comments and realize that this is what all the hype is about. I am interested in reading all the recommended books other have posted. I would like to add my own. The book East by Edith Pattou. Fantasy read that I loved. Now that is a movie I would love to see made.

Prissy & Hero said...

I'm a little belated in commenting. I've read all four, got caught up in it, but was also disturbed by some messages and especially the 4th book. I agree with most of the comments on here.

Here's where my perspective is different:

-I teach middle school. You would be appalled at what is allowed in libraries for middle school kids. You would also be appalled at what kids do today. I see gangs, drugs, violence, sex, abuse, pretty much anything in an R rated movie and worse every year. And truly, my students tell me these books don't depict things correctly (they're right) because they know; they've done those things already.
-I appreciated some things about the novels: a man who is the one holding the moral ground. It seems that I see the guys always persuading the girls to do promiscuous things more than the other way--not that I like seeing a girl being the one pushing the limits. It's just nice to see someone even bring up morality and saving yourself for marriage in literature. My kids don't hear that--at home, in movies, practically ever unless it's from me or their health teacher. I appreciate a man who respects a girl the way Edward is portrayed to respect Bella.
-I teach in a Title 1, over 1/2 Latino/Hispanic immigrant school. These kids are lacking SO much that we take for granted as LDS's. When my kids read this it opens up the dialogue to talk to them about avoiding relationships of abuse, finding true love (I talk about love vs. lust), and sadly, simply getting them to read. I've had 6 pregnancies in the last 5 years that I've known about. I know there have been more. I just don't know about them. I wish I could have talked with those girls more about saving yourself for the right time--these books do allow for that type of a discussion to take place.
-Stephenie Meyer did not intend for these books to be marketed towards Young Adults. She wrote them for herself: a married, 30+ woman with kids. It makes a difference to me knowing that, although it doesn't condone that the book retailers marketed the books as such.
-I have a book club at my school where each week the kids (boys and girls) come talk about the books. We have GREAT discussions on the religious themes, the issues of lying/deceit with parents, morality, etc. If there is one good thing that I've done this year, I know it has been allowing these kids to come talk to me about things they don't feel they can talk to anyone else about. I pray that I'm making a difference.

Brianne & Jarod said...

Soo....have you been waiting for my comment??? Ha ha ha! I will gladly admit that I enjoyed reading the Twilight series. (seeing the movie is another story) Funny that you should post the "critique" by Ms. Turpin...because it caused a LOT of controversy & problems in our ward...(wish I could tell you all about it, but would take too much time my friend) I can not say that when I read the series that I thought of even 1/4 of the things she points out in her EXTREME depiction of the "real story." I am afraid that I just didn't have the time...or desire to...I just enjoyed reading a somewhat poorly written vampire story..THE END. I actually see a lot of good characteristics in Edward...and would have LOVED to use some of the examples when I taught sexual education to my high school students. I am 100% sure that it is neccassary to be open with our children about sexual intamacy and the beautiful blessing of ABSTINENCE!(that includes teaching our children the correct anatomical names for our bodies and their parts...) would be AMAZED to hear all the crazy stuff that teens think!!! It was honestly my FAVORITE subject of the entire year to teach :)(Anyhoo...I am not sure what the HUGE obsession about Twilight is, but I read it, and am not ashamed to admit it :)

Brianne & Jarod said...

p.s. I agree with a lot of what Prissy & Hero had to say :) GOOD COMMENT!!

Stephanie said...

Sara ~
I LOVE you! I was giddy with joy reading your thoughts on the first book, the youth of today and your expression of how beautiful intamacy can be within the bounds of an eternal marriage.

I haven't read any of the books. I'm stubborn (maybe prideful?), when I see so many people jumping on the band wagon and getting hyped up over something, I tend to ride it out and see how it goes before making my decision. This was a series that my in-laws ;.(mother, sisters, etc) were absolutely obsessed over! I was definitely 'the black sheep' not wanting to have anything to do with them.

It was a little frustrating when they would speak openly about the books in front of my children - my son has had a bit of a fascination about vampires ever since (thankfully, he didn't want to be one for Halloween).

Anyway, they just weren't something I wanted to occupy my time with. I know MANY who have read and loved them, and I'm glad they enjoyed the read. I find that I'm so far behind on books I want to read (Arming your Children with the Gospel, Joseph Smith History, Purity and Passion, etc) that I don't have time for fantasy books - and I'm not a fan of vampires! ;o)

I've really loved reading the comments on here!

Bob & Kristy said...

I really appreciate your thoughtful comments on Twilight. I avoided reading the series until my 15 year old son came home from school with it, because even the boys at church were reading it. I read it first, and told him that there are a million books out there that he has not read yet, but that he will absolutely love. This book can wait. I will do everything in my power to convince my daughters to delay reading it until they are 30+ as well. It shocks me that my nieces (ages 11 and 12) have read it (with their mother's approval) because ALL the other girls their age in their wards have read it.

Disclaimer- I went on to read the whole series. But for me it was a walk through distant feelings from my teenage years; I could remember the feelings, shake my head at how all-consuming relationships could feel, and appreciate Meyer's talent at capturing that. Seeing the movie this weekend, I also realized how glad I was that SOMEONE in popular culture is making the point that holding hands and kissing can be pretty exciting on their own.

That said, I wish more moms and YW leaders would back off supporting this for teenagers. The "life is not worth living without your love" and "you are the only thing that has meaning in my life" theme would have been so destructive to me as a teenager. I already felt that way so strongly, I needed tools to get out of those feelings, not an invitation to surrender to them. And I shudder to think how many of these kids are going to wind up in the bishop's office because they wanted to imitate Edward and Bella's stimulating experiments in risk-taking with self-control.

The reason I had to comment on your post is that there is terrific pressure on the Young Women to read these books, coming from women who, if they would think for 5 seconds instead of just feeling, would know better. I think you are spot-on with this, and your YW are lucky.

SilverRain said...

I clicked over from your husband's blog. I have to say that I've not read any of the books, only excerpts. Though I'm debating whether or not to read them, I think this made my mind up for me. I see a few problems with some of the reasoning I've heard in relation to these books. I want to mention it, not to condemn, but just to give everyone something to think about. I know this is a super hard line to take, and everyone can judge and make the decision for themselves. It's just my opinion which I thought might be worth sharing.

"It's okay to read these if you are married." I fail to understand why something is okay to read if you are married that would not be okay to read if you are. Anything that excites you sexually which is not your husband, to my mind, is going outside of the covenant of marriage. In some ways it is worse (especially in a temple marriage), because there is a covenant or at least a promise of fidelity involved.

"Reading romance novels is okay, so long as it doesn't actually describe the sex act itself." I'm an avid reader, and at one point read romance novels. Even if the novel does not describe sex acts, it can be dangerous because it creates unrealistic expectations. Just like visual pornography for men, romance novels work on women's sexual buttons to excite them. The actual sex act does not have to be described to do this. When the perfect lover is described in the mind of a woman, whether that woman has had sex or not, it creates a false expectation of perfection in men. (Just like images of a perfect body creates false expectations for men of perfection in women.)

How much more beautiful is both partners of a marriage teaching and learning how to please the other and how the other can please them? This creates a mutual bond that cannot be created if either partner has an expectation of how things are supposed to be. In this sense, I have felt that romance novels are not different from pornography. If you expect your husband to stay away from porn, so should you stay away from things that excite you outside of marriage.

Again, this is just my opinion. I'm not intending to offend anyone. It's just that I've been in the position of wanting to read something I knew deep down I shouldn't read, but finding excuses for it. In the end, I realized I was just rationalizing, and those arguments were not from God. If you wouldn't want Jesus reading over your shoulder, it's probably not a good idea to read.

Lakes are Great said...

Hey Sista...I mostly just wanted to say "hi, love ya, can't wait to see ya". You are just the best. I'm going to have to say though, which you already know, I LOVE the books. Maybe I'm not as intune with this as I should be, but I never really thought of the books as being really sexual. Parts of it are I guess, but I feel like real life is like that too. You already know what I think about it...I won't go on! I just love you!! And those girls are like the cutest things I've ever seen! I can't believe how grown up they BOTH look!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am a 38 year old, LDS, married male who found your blog through Spencer's blog. I enjoy reading both occasionally because I like your perspective on life.

I have read all four of the books and seen the movie. I would say that the review by Camille contains accurate information. However, it has the feel of someone who had a few complaints, started to write them down, thought of the idea of a list, and looked through the books for every bad thing she could find. A lot of the examples she cites are taken out of context or don't cite the counterpoints that the books have built in.

I did find parts of the books bothersome. There were characteristics and actions of different characters that annoyed me. There were also characters and characteristics that I would like to emulate. There were some things I didn't like, but I chose to find a lot of good in the stories as well. I suppose if someone took the time, they could compile a comparable list of good aspects of the story.

Many of the themes of these stories are not much different than themes in other literature. Many of the feelings and emotions are realistic, even though they are in a fantasy setting. If a teenager (not an eleven year old) wanted to read these books, I would recommend that parents and teachers or youth leaders discuss what is being read. What are they getting out of the books? Do they agree with the way the characters handle their emotions? Teach children values. This kind of critical thinking should be done with all types of books. All readers and parents should be wise. It isn't always done, but I don't think that is the fault of the author.

So, I enjoyed the books. I didn't like everything in them, but I found a lot to like. I could say the same about Harry Potter or most of the classic literature I have read. If someone doesn't want to read the books or doesn't see the same things I see, OK with me. I just don't see the same evil or Satanic influence that a few others seem to be seeing.

JAMIE Probert COOK~ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JAMIE Probert COOK~ said...

At christmas I would really like to talk to you about this as I know I won't get all my thoughts on here, and I want them to come out right.

I really am not sure what I can say. I LOVED the books---there were racy things in them...The comments your friend made , I agree, are like Ms. Anonymous---there are alot of counterparts where Stephanie actually says"no, this is NOT good"

I never had the words to write like you did, but that does not mean that I have a bad opinion.

I think you were very eloquent as usual in your words, and it is hard to ever dispute anything you say ( not that that is what I am doing right now).

I, unlike most of the people on here, am not ashamed to admit I have read and own all the books and my husband has read them all. I actually did not know until I read the 3rd book that they were a "hit" and the "in thing" otherwise I may not have read them.

I think it would be better to stay away from anything that is pushing the line--and you can't fault anyone for doing their best to be good...

I also, however, don't claim to know what the author was trying to say...Sometimes I don't even think they know. I took it completely different, and maybe that is my naivity. I thought she was trying to portray marraige as eternal and that there are things worth waiting for--- I thought it was wonderful how the vampire knew that what he was was not how things were suppose to be...

Anywho---I could go off on this, and you could debate it for hours with almost anyone.

I love your views as always--and love all that you are working for. Just don't hate me because I LOVE TWILIGHT!!!

Mickelle said...

Oh, Sarah, how I wish you were still in the ward and we could sit down and chat about it all! I 100% agree with your post -- and the one below it. (Granted, I didn't even read te first. But I've overheard far more than my fair share of converstaions on the topic!)

Thanks for saying what needed to be said, and doing it with the spirit. I admire you so for it.

Anonymous said...

this is the first time that I have actually really heard the details of this book. A couple of Kaylie's friends wanted her to go see the movie when I was in Calif. and Dad told her No. I'm glad that Dad is as sensitive as he is and stood by his standards, so, Sara, I loved your blog and decided that you should be a writer. You are an awesome example to the youth. Carry on my friend. p.s. Sally, I loved your comment. You make me smile.I'm going to say 2 things on this matter. ONE, just because you are Quote "LDS" does NOT make every thing you say RIGHT. TWO, I think we as a people tend to rationalize our standards and situations to fit the things we like to embrace. THE END.

val said...

Hi Sara. Good discussion on here. A good debate is always fun.
I'm not a fan. I barely made it through the second book. Bella was so pathetic I just couldn't go on. Get some confidence girl! Quit jumping off cliffs!
I have heard from my sisters that there was "some sex part" in one of the later books. I was shocked. Really? The author took it THAT far? Gross and blah.
I'm in the YW right now and when I got put in I thought I would have to read the rest of the series so I could fit in with them. But nope, I didn't and we are all great friends. It bugs me that my little barely 12 year old girls have read and re-read the books and have seen the movie several times. It's way too much for those youngins. And I agree that it teaches wrong values and morals. It's too bad that the big hits are always across the line or at least on the borderline. Sadly, it's only going to get worse.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts...

Bethany said...

I enjoyed the books as something quick and to easy read that I could pick up in spare moments, but they definently got worse with each book. The last one is very inappropriate for anyone, not just young teens. Although these books do not go into the detail of romance novels, it goes into too much detail.
I think the thing that bugs me the most about these books and the effect that they're having on the teen readers, is that they now have extrememly unrealistic expectations of the guys that they will potentialy date and marry. One girl in my ward told me, to the effect of, "Since reading about Edward, my expectations for guys have completely gone up." It is a story, one that gets too much into sex and a negative portrayal of marriage and pregnancy and unrealistic about what marriage is really like. The fact that the girls are taking it to heart instead of for what it is, a FICTIONAL story meant to entertain, is what really bothers me. I have many other complaints about this book but this is long enough so I won't go on.

The Dutkiewicz Family said...

I don't have time for-

My calling
The Scriptures
Family Home Evening
My spouse
My children
But please, be quiet, because I'm reading Twilight.

I mean, isn't this the real issue? Fad books like this are a counterfeit of life experiences that build the foundation of salvation. Distractions are the scapels of Satan.

Now...who won the game?

Heather said...

I really appreciate you posting this review of Twilight. I just came across your blog through google reader.

I haven't read twilight etc... and i never had the desire to read them. I wasn't into the entire vampire thing. But mostly I've just heard raving reviews from other yw leaders in my ward and the yw.

But I was talking with my mom about a few things i had heard that were troubling. Thanks for your honest review because I feel the same way about teaching virtue and chastity. It's good to know what the youth are facing with media influences (even books) so we can be aware in our lessons and interactions.

I'm with the others that goose girl would make a fun movie. not a fan of austen land either.

anyhoo... thanks for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

So, hello. This is Camille Turpin. My husband found this post for me, and I thought I'd add my two (more) cents in abridged form:

First of all, I am so amazed to find so many people agreed with me here! So far, this is the most people I've found that do not want to send me hate mail or have me excommunicated.

Second, for those who feel I may be judging S.M. or being too harsh--that is just how book reviews work. I do not make personal judgments about her, just her work.

Third, as far as me writing down a few bad things, thinking of the idea of a list, and searching through the rest to find things, yes, that is exactly what I did. Can you believe how much I found? As I wrote, I loved the first two books despite all their fluffiness and literary flaws, and yet, when I went back through them with the eyes of what they could be teaching to young girls, it made me very angry and upset that I let myself get sucked in.

Fourth, Harry Potter. I am a huge fan, yet as some commenters here have said, they become more adult as the books go on. I have a problem with this too. It was the first series that grew with the reader, rather than having the main characters stay the same age. I think it's dangerous too. I probably won't let my children start the first HP book until they are old enough to handle all of them. SM has done the same thing here, only with sex and violence instead of just more adult themes. As far as her not intending them for teens, the characters are in high school, and it is written as a YA novel. She knew teens were reading them when she wrote the third and fourth books.

Last, the it's ok because I'm married argument. I have another article, longer than this review, which cites the countless effects I've seen these books have on married women. To me, this is almost more dangerous than the problems it creates with young girls. Married LDS women of every age are lusting after this fictional hero and boasting about it. There is no pretense that it is a guilty pleasure--there is no guilt. They pass along the book saying, "Read this, it will make your horny." They buy their books stating they wish they were Mrs. Cullen, or alluding to sexual encounters, and their husbands don't bat an eyelash. It all seems very backward to me--a double standard. And then I have to go teach standards to the 8-11 year old daughters of these women--how can I possibly compete?

SO, yes, I was a little overworked about it, but under these conditions, can anyone see why? I still stand behind everything I wrote.

Wow. Not so abbreviated! Sorry. I don't normally reply to these posts, but this felt like a safe place with a good discussion and not too much passion.

On another note--isn't Shannon Hale great? I love her children's books. Also, try Stevermer and Wrede and their Magic Chocolate Pot series. So great.

Anonymous said...

Camille Turpin again, sorry.

Just for your information, the review you pasted was an excerpt. The entire review may be found here:

Heather Leigh said...

Sara, you don't know me. I found your blog through google after a friend emailed Camille's review to me. I like to think that I am grounded and in tune...but this review and your comments have made me pause. I read all of the books, so has my 14 year old daughter. I liked them O.K. but was not obsessed with them. I did like how Edward and his family were "vegetarians" and went against their "natural man" so to speak. There were other things I liked that I won't go into. But now that I read your comments, I recognize the things I didn't like. Mainly that Bella seemed to have so little self control. My daughter, although she's more into sports than boys (thank heavens) and is a really great kid has become obsessed with the books and movie. I thought when she had seen the movie it would all die down. Oh no! Now she's got to read them all again. I'm sorry to say, I didn't recognize the danger. Thanks for being on your soapbox, I'll be pondering over it.

Keep up the good work with your YW. I was released as YW Pres a couple of years ago and still miss my girls... sniff sniff. (Althought the extra time with my family is priceless!!!)

~Sherry (Bear) and Stephen (Wolf) said...

I'm not a fan of vampires to begin with, and made the decision not to read the books. My husband took his mom to see Twilight the movie, then he took me to see it, saying I was being too judgmental.

I wasn't impressed with the movie, and didn't care for the storyline.

Thank you! I didn't know the books contained all that junk. Now I have more reasons to resist everyone's pleading that I read them.

Shannon Hale's books are wonderful! My favorites are "Goose Girl" and "Book of a Thousand Days". I also recommend some books by Jessica Day George, "Dragon Slippers", "Dragon Flight", and "Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow." She even mentions "Goose Girl" in "Dragon Slippers"...what a fun tribute to a friend.

Happy reading!

H-less E-less said...


I am so thrilled that you found this post and commented. I only feel bad that I am just now reading your comments.

I'll simply say, I appreciate you and your willingness to go against the grain. Everyone needs to get a little worked up every once in a while. Glad yours was for such a worthy cause.

I would love to email you further questions and comments, so if you get this and have a second-email me at

Carry on!