Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Happy (not sappy) endings

As some of you may know, I love a good romantic novel. I'm a sucker for romance; a hopeless (or hopeful?) romantic. I write romance, I read romance and I live romance (meaning I see and feel it everywhere). For me, the best romantic novel would excite me, break my heart (a little) then put it all back together again with an ending that leaves a smile on my face and hope in my heart.

I do not, however, limit my reading to romance only. I'm an eclectic reader with many interests and a willingness to take a chance on a story, but a common theme to the stories that capture me the most would be human endurance followed (always) by triumph.

I'm fascinated by stories of people faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, yet they find ways to survive and thrive. Add a romance in the mix and I'm on cloud nine. ;) But weather it's a romance or a story of the human condition, it's the happy ending that holds the power for me. That may sound sappy to some, but before you roll your eyes and shake your head, read on to find out why I feel the way I do about happy endings. It may or may not surprise you. Just don't mistake happy endings with happiness on every page.

World War 2 period stories are at the top of my list of beloved novels. The stories of endurance and triumph are abundant. From the Holocaust to the soldier's experience to the loved ones left behind, I'm fascinated. But I'm not limited to that time period as history holds endless stories of survival and triumph.

Why do I like this kind of stuff so much if I'm a sucker for happy endings? Because it's full of happy endings with amazing examples of how strong the human spirit is. I could go on and on, listing so many books as examples, but I'll go with the one that's in the headlines right now.

"Unbroken". That book (now movie) amazed and touched me deeply. Not simply for what the protagonist of this true story endured and overcame (though that was huge!), but for how he reacted to what he triumphed over; what he did with what he learned and endured.

As individuals with our own life struggles big and small, stories that show the success of endurance followed by triumph are empowering. Not only are they uplifting and inspiring to read, but after reading them, we store the bits and pieces of these triumphant stories to give us strength and hope in times when we need them most.

All of this probably leads you to conclude (rightfully so) that I am the kind of reader who searches for and expects happy endings. Absolutely. The happy ending doesn't just satisfy a conclusion to a good story, it offers hope in a world with too many unhappy endings. Wanting happy endings isn't living in a fantasy land, it's looking for hope. And hope is a powerful thing. Just ask any survivor.

Okay, so how do you feel about happy (not sappy) endings? Especially knowing that by "happy", I speak of something far deeper.

We all have our preferences and reasons for them. I'd enjoy hearing what yours are. And no matter your ending of choice, I wish you all happy reading.