In my teenage years I loved reading books with happy endings. Maybe it was all that teenage angst bottled up inside, maybe it was the dream of finding love one day, or maybe I was just conditioned that way. Possibly it was because I used to raid my parents’ book collections. They are a lot more discerning these days but back then it was mum’s historical romance novels versus dad’s action packed Wilbur Smith books. As different as these genres were they all had happy endings.
But what is a happy ending? The girl getting the boy? The hero saving the world? Stop any story at a certain point and you are bound to get a happy ending. But what happens after the happy ending? Do the girl and boy go on to live a perfect life? Does the hero retire to a life of normality quite happily? Or does the couple split up once kids come along? And does the hero suffer post-traumatic stress disorder? Do I really want to read those stories?
I have since read a lot of books without happy endings. Books where the hero dies in the end. Or the girl leaves it too long to realise she loves the boy and he finds someone else. These books are usually of the literary type and leave you feeling sad, depressed, angry, irritable etc. Don’t get me wrong, they make great works of art and make me feel like I really read something worth reading. But I can only take so many of these books in a row.
Sometimes I like reading predictable books. I like knowing that after many misunderstandings and missed opportunities the girl will eventually end up with the boy. Or I like reading a book where after a serial killer kills a few people the detective finally tracks them down and they get their comeuppance. In books we can get the nice clean endings we so often don’t get in real life.
Some people ridicule the happy ending in books believing they are a lower form of storytelling. But I don’t. Happy endings will always have a place in my reading repertoire.
And this blogger lived happily ever after …
Do you like reading books with happy endings?