I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard other bloggers say they simply can’t read books where a character cheats. I also can’t tell you how much this annoys me. I feel like I’d understand the aversion to the topic in adult books, when relationships tend to be more serious and committed and marriage is an issue, but in YA, I think it’s an important topic to cover and one that ought not to be judged so harshly. I get it: cheating is bad. If you’re in a monogamous relationship with someone, cheating is just a thing you shouldn’t do.
But we’re talking YA here. YA takes teen romance so seriously that I can kind of understand why cheating seems like a big deal, but realistically, most of the romances we read about wouldn’t last that long in real life. Basically, I just don’t think cheating in YA books is THAT big a deal. They’re teenagers. Get over it.
More importantly, cheating DOES NOT make someone a bad person. It just so pisses me off when fellow reviewers complain that when they find a book about cheating, they have difficulty finding anything redeeming about the character or can’t read books where they don’t respect the protagonist. Again, cheating doesn’t make someone a bad person. If you defined every person by the worst thing they’d done in their life, you probably wouldn’t like a whole lot of people, and even good people do bad things.
Personally, I’ve read some great books about cheating, and I know there are lots of others out there. To me it’s a shame to miss out on great writing and storytelling because you’re too judgmental. For example, Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick features a relationship in which the main character is sleeping with a guy even though he has a girlfriend. A lot of people had problems with this, but I thought it really added to the story and fell in love with Strasnick’s writing because of this book, although sadly none of her other books have lived up to this one. Melissa Walker’s Unbreak My Heart is another book about cheating a lot of reviewers have loved, even those who claim to hate books on the subject. (This one’s definitely on my TBR list).
Cheating is hurtful. I get it. But it’s not the only thing that defines a person in literature or in real life.