Why finishing 2020 with Midnight Sun is a sign of the times
I was 12 years old the first time I stumbled across Twilight.
To be honest, back then I didn’t read a lot of “good literature”: my bookshelf was mainly Dahl classics and Harry Potter. However, one afternoon, picking up groceries in the middle of my Latin American city I saw the DVD of the first movie and decided to give it a try.
I was hooked, to say the least. My obsession spiraled into movie premiere nights with my middle-school best friends and me begging my parents for the books even though I had already read them online. Later on, I also read the bootleg version of Midnight Sun (sorry, Stephanie).
Now, I’m a 23-year-old woman who left those books in her childhood bookshelf when she left for college; but the pandemic rushed me back to my parents’ house, a place that I haven’t slept for more than a few weeks every year. Feeling disjointed with family (unfamiliar) dynamics and the uncertain future, when Stephanie Meyer said she was finally ready to release the complete version of Midnight Sun (a draft that made me cry all those years ago), I was ready to jump into her world once more.
I have to be honest, I have a soft spot for Twilight in general. I love watching the movies and cringing and non-apologetic listening to the soundtracks occasionally. I also love what they did for me: after finishing the saga, I ended up reading Shakespeare and Austen, at the same time that my love for Bon Iver and St. Vincent grew to this day.
However, none of those things made me forget the bad and questionable things. Ok, they are not the best-written books, the Jacob/Reneesmee relationship is grooming. Edward is extremely manipulative and Bella is a Mary Sue-walking-trope.
At the same time, I was scared. What if I didn’t like it? What if in my brand-new adulthood I find it to be trash, just like every adult when I was a teenager?
The first thought after getting the book (the first one in its original English), was related to the length: I was gonna be stuck with Edward for almost 700 pages, was I gonna make it? I started reading it right away, the first few hundred pages running with my lost teenage rush. I laughed out loud and I questioned Edward and Bella’s decisions even more than before. Also, during the time that I was away from Twilight, I got a literature specialization, so I see could tropes and forms of the narrative that slipped from my memory.
Throughout the year I stopped my reading, mainly because the adult world was constantly calling via Zoom, other times because I was overwhelmed by the teenage flashbacks. But, something stayed the same: I felt at home. The easy read and the characters that came within stabilized me during the time with most uncertainty about the future. The book felt like a kaleidoscope: I could remember myself reading the books all those years ago, at the same time that I paused for my afternoon work meeting to discuss my future.
This year we all found new ways to survive, to make us feel like the future is going to be worth it and the time at home was just a way to get more education and specialization. I’ve never thought the past will help me to overcome what’s ahead.
I think about this book in another context. If this had come out during any other year, I probably wouldn’t have read it, stating that I’m an adult and I have more “important” things to do. However, these times (and book) helped me understand love and joy are yours only, and it’s fine if you find them in the most absurd and little things.