(A repost of a blog I wrote recently for Read a Romance Month):
We all know her. She’s sweet, unassuming, sometimes funny, and once in a while a klutz. She’s endearing for days, and maybe a little quirky in a fun way. She’s easily attractive, but even more so once you get to know her. Oh! And don’t forget relatable, definitely relatable, because underneath it all, she’s just like you and me. She may be a tomboy or fall more on the side of femininity. She has secret hopes and dreams and fears and intentions. Among her friends, she’s easy to talk to and a good listener.
I’m talking about the girl next door, an archetype that has been an identifiable part of story telling for nearly a century. Everyone wants to be friends with the girl next door, and more often than not, lots of people fall in love with her. And why not? She’s awesome!
Marcia Brady comes to mind or Sally Field’s Gidget. Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle or You’ve Got Mail or When Harry Met Sally. Meg Ryan in anything, really. Rachel from Friends, Joey Potter who lived along Dawson’s Creek, or Anna Kendrick as Beca in Pitch Perfect. In the Betty and Veronica friendship, our girl is definitely Betty. All examples of the girls we love to love.
When I first started my intense relationship with romance novels at twelve years old (there was apparently no time to lose), the girl-next-door trope was my absolute favorite. Boys trusted her, befriended her, and before they knew it, they were head over heels for her. I loved it! I rooted for the GND and hoped against hope she’d find her one true love. I mean, if she could achieve her happily ever after, then surely I could too. When I discovered lesbian fiction, and read voraciously as girl-met-girl, I was over the moon to realize that the GND lived there too. She’s everywhere, universal, and that’s just icing on the already delicious cupcake that the GND would heartily devour.
The best news of all is that as a romance novelist myself now, I get to write her too. I get to crawl inside her head and feel what it’s like to be her. I get to chart her journey, obstacles and all, and at the end of the day, take the journey alongside her.
I don’t think I’ll ever put an end to my love affair with the girl next door, nor do I think I’ll tire of her stories.
So, in honor of the GND, I raise a glass. I consider myself lucky for knowing her and can’t wait to see what quirky, sincere, or unassuming thing she’ll do next.