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Romance Tropes: The Longtime Crush

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Writing my debut YA fantasy novel, The Uncrossing, I used one of my all-time favorite romance tropes: the longtime crush. There’s something so satisfying about unrequited love slowly becoming returned. First, we get to wallow in some delicious crush angst—all that good yearning and longing and desiring stuff. Every time the object of the crush is obliviously sweet or accidentally cruel, we feel that sting along with the main character. I grew up on 90s teen movies like Can’t Hardly Wait that built on these long, slow-burn crushes.

And when the characters do finally get together? It’s joyful and complete and maybe just the tiniest bit of wish-fulfillment. One of my favorite longtime crushes that finally gets resolved is Ron and Hermione’s relationship in the Harry Potter series. They want each other for years, and both their own personalities and the stress of survival in their world keep getting between them. Ron, in particular, has to work so hard to understand his own feelings and become someone who deserves Hermione. When he finally gets his act together, and they find one another, it truly feels like coming home.

I’m a queer woman, and The Uncrossing is an m/m romance. I think one reason I love the longtime crush trope so much is its prevalence and cathartic role in queer coming-of-age stories. So many of these stories start with a character who has a desperate crush on afriend, or someone else whose gender isn’t the socially proscribed correct one. That confusing desire is a painful introduction to the whole idea of queerness. For the crush to be returned, then, is a happy ending that affirms not just the character’s crush but their identity, and the prospect of finding love. It doesn’t always work out that way, of course, but queer stories with happy endings reinforce our hopes for what’s possible.

The crush in The Uncrossing doesn’t work quite that way—I wanted to write about a relationship that was a step past that self-discovery, so both characters already understand themselves as gay and are out to their families. But coming out is a lifelong process, not a one-time event, and writing that unrequited love trope gave me lots of different avenues to think about personal and political identities. Having a crush can feel so vulnerable! And sometimes, loving someone can mean seeing and loving things about them that they don’t always love in themselves.

Jeremy’s crush on Luke makes him see the world in new ways he’s never thought about before. As that crush moves toward a real relationship, they both have to confront problems they’ve never imagined. I hope you enjoy all the twists and turns of this growing crush as much as I loved writing them!

UncrossingFinal-Entangled_500x750 (1)About The Uncrossing:

Luke can uncross almost any curse—they unravel themselves for him like no one else. So working for the Kovrovs, one of the families controlling all the magic in New York, is exciting and dangerous, especially when he encounters the first curse he can’t break. And it involves Jeremy, the beloved, sheltered prince of the Kovrov family—the one boy he absolutely shouldn’t be falling for.

Jeremy’s been in love with cocky, talented Luke since they were kids. But from their first kiss, something’s missing. Jeremy’s family keeps generations of deadly secrets, forcing him to choose between love and loyalty. As Luke fights to break the curse, a magical, citywide war starts crackling, and it’s tied to Jeremy.

This might be the one curse Luke can’t uncross. If true love’s kiss fails, what’s left for him and Jeremy?

About Melissa Eastlake:

Melissa Eastlake’s debut novel, The Uncrossing, is coming in 2017 from Entangled Teen. She is a 2017 Lambda Literary Fellow and lives in Athens, Georgia with her partner and their dogs.

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