New Moon, chapters 4-9
I can cover most of this section of the book easily. It is mostly the same for five chapters.
Bella’s sad. Edward McDreamyVamp is gone. Life holds no meaning for her anymore, in true teenage melodramatic style, and after the cute little blank book fiasco we find her waking up to a life not lived. She has become more dull, if that was even possible, b/c naturally, the only thing interesting about Bella thus far is her relationship w/ her perfectly perfect SparkleVamp boyfriend.
After Charlie (remember him? The father Bella lies to compulsively?) threatens out of worry to send her to Florida to live w/ Renée (she has a mother, too!). This whips Bella into a terrified frenzy to find “normal” teenage things to do w/ her time.
And this is how we come to find that Bella is deeply troubled. I found myself genuinely worried about Bella during this portion of the book (and beyond, but there are other elements to discuss later). In an effort to prove to Charlie that she isn’t w/o hope after losing Edward and a mad attempt to cling to Forks w/ all of her kitten strength for fear of losing her perfectly perfect memories altogether, she seeks out teenagerly things to do.
While trying to find ways to distract herself w/ her friends (I had forgotten she had human friends!) Bella discovers in the Oh! so dangerous act of walking toward a bar that when she deliberately puts her life in danger she begins to hallucinate. Yup. She begins to hear Edward’s voice in striking clarity chastising her for reckless behavior. This new discovery drives Bella to engage in increasingly dangerous behavior in order to provoke the hallucinations, including learning to ride a motorcycle that she has asked her friend from the Reservation to help her repair. Clumsy Bella has decided to learn to ride a motorcycle in secret, down on the secluded Reservation and away from where any reasonable minded people might notice.
Nowhere does Smeyer attempt to make it seem as if these hallucinations are anything but the normal course of teenage love gone wrong. As we can tell from recent pop-culture, hallucinations, no matter how pleasant and inviting, are often indicative of larger problems. From Izzy’s affair w/ Denny, to House’s visions of Amber, and Booth’s hallucinations (which I have not yet seen for myself), we are finding that it is pretty much common knowledge that a hallucination, especially a vivid one, can mean that there is some seriously fucked up shit going on in your body. Further, finding ways to induce these hallucinations, especially via risky behavior (the oh so risky behavior of walking toward a bar and not actually into it, or driving that big bad motorcycle) is not something we should glamorize for young children.
Also, during this time, Bella rekindles her friendship w/ local Rez heartthrob Jacob. Any moron can see that Jacob has been pining for Bella since their young childhood, and Bella, though clear that she does not return that sentiment, allows Jacob to continue to express outward signs of that affection through hand holding and other forms of chaste physical contact. This serves two purposes. It allows Bella to pursue her risky behavior, and it helps her feel more whole again. B/c if there is one thing that Smeyer wants us to know, it is that a woman must have a man in her life if she is to feel whole. In order to further the story Bella has been shoved from the arms of one man right into another’s. Completely gone is any note of what Bella’s life was actually like w/o Edward and before Jacob. Bella’s being is defined throughout the series, until much much later in the final book, as girlfriend to a vampire to best friend of that boy from the rez. There is no room for definition of her character absent of these facts.
At the end of chapter nine, Bella, her friend Mike from school, and Jacob all leave the movies and all become sick w/in two days. Mike and Bella have a stomach flu and Bella believes that Jacob has gotten the same thing. We find out shortly that this isn’t the case.
Something that irked me: All the little jabs that Smeyer releases through Bella’s point of view about gendered things, this one specifically about the repair work that goes into the motorcycles that Bella procures and brings to Jacob. Bella doesn’t understand mechanics. Fine, I have little more than a basic knowledge of cars, being able to change my own oil (not that I would attempt so on our hybrid) and tires, and I know my way around various filters and transmission systems, and a couple of years ago learned how to bleed my own brakes. She has no interest in the subject, and that would have been well enough, but Smeyer had to go and throw in the little jab about needing a Y chromosome to comprehend any of it. Nice one, there Smeyer. I am sure the mechanic that did most of my more heavy car repairs (oh the drive shafts I replaced in my Bronco II) would not appreciate her knowledge being dismissed on account of her gender. I surely didn’t.
A woman from the base housing whose daughters ride the same bus as The Kid asked me if I thought the Twilight books were OK for a nine year old to read. I hesitated. I think a lot of the material is a little heavy for kids that young, but if they want to read then I say let them read. I knew girls growing up who read Harlequin novels when we were tweeners, and my Grammy surely had a closet full of them that I had access to. I told her what I would tell anyone who has a kid wanting to read these books, that it is OK for them to read (mostly b/c I don’t believe in censoring what my Kid reads and watches w/in certain settings) as long as she, her parent, was willing to also read it so that they could discuss what she was reading and any objectionable material, such as why is Edward not a good boyfriend in the beginning. This is why I let The Kid read things like Order of the Stick (we have most of the comics in book form now) and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any slew of procedural dramas that I enjoy, b/c I am willing to watch things w/her. Even the Disney Channel often has programming (while I find it remarkably diverse for a popular mainstream channel, having many principal actors being PoC and even many WoC) that I find I need to discuss w/ The Kid. This type of material is suitable as long as a suitable party is willing to invest the time to explain and answer questions. What happened to that girl? She has caner and had to have brain surgery to fix it. Why is Buffy crying? Because her mother died. We even had a discussion about House’s drug use, and how it is more nuanced than “He’s an addict” (which is how they paint him). I would let The Kid read these in a couple of years, when her comprehension is appropriately leveled, b/c I have read them, and know what we would need to talk about.