“Any reason why are you defacing that book?” Jake asked me, eyebrows raised. “You are a librarians worst nightmare,” he said, shaking his head.
I was methodically cutting 10 pages at a time, using a homemade stencil. Scraps from the book, my own copy of Stephanie Meyer’s mega hit Twilight, were strewn about at my feet as I sat cutting.
I was making a paperback pumpkin, my upcycled craft for the Fall. This book was becoming a cool and funky autumn decoration, but as an advocate for literacy and books in general, I knew that Jake’s accusation would require a rebuttal.
Normally, my policy with upcycled crafting is that I only disassemble items that are beyond use. I take items worn and torn and ready for the trash and I try my best to breathe a bit more life into them. My best finds at the thrift shop include children’s book, spoiled by the loving hands of toddlers armed with crayons or juice, and road maps, scrawled on with a felt tip pen by an enthusiastic traveler who excitedly circled his destinations.
As an upcycling crafter, I take these paper items, which are beyond use, and cut them up and make them into something new and maybe even better!
But what about the upcycling of Twilight?
Admittedly, this book could have been read again. Nothing was spilled on it and it didn’t have a single mark from Dorito-tainted fingers.
So why upcycle a perfectly good book when I usually only upcycle items that are damaged beyond repair? It seems that Jake’s admonishment might have some merit.
But, alas, I have a defense!
In advance, I will apologize to all of you Twilighters or Twihards or Twi-Moms out there. I get that you all love this book series, but I have to respectfully disagree.
Of course, Twilight was a fun read. But I have concern over the message that Bella and Edward were sending to young readers, especially young women. The female lead, Bella, is a displace teenager who leans toward sullen and cynical quietude. And while I support a teen’s (or an adult’s, for that matter) right to be brooding and cynical, Bella takes it to a place that is whiny and helpless and wallowing and very dependent on a man. Bella seems to lean on Edward the way a child leans on a parent and Edward not only encourages it, he seems to demand it.
This book, when it first came out, was a giant hit among the 15 and 16 year-old-set, the exact age group of my child at that time. And I got to hear the breathy and goose-bumpy responses of many young women, who were infatuated with the book, and with Edward and Jacob. And to my chagrin, these young women were very comfortable with Bella’s dependence on Edward and her insecurity. Somehow, they equated these characteristics with love.
The book’s sequel, New Moon, added to my concern when Bella, brokenhearted by her separation from Edward, remembers how he always came to her aid when she was in danger. So in a desperate attempt to either force his hand or to jolt her memory, she risks her own life and jumps from a cliff.
This is where the 15 year old girls all sighed with thoughts of true love.
So what to do??
First, I considered forcing these girls on a road trip to the Alice Paul House, a local landmark that was the home of a strong-willed suffragist who busted her corseted butt (I mean waist), to give me and my gal pals the right to vote.
Then I contemplated a group reading of the writing of my bad-grlll idol, Gloria Steinem, who infiltrated the Playboy club and let us know that objectification is not okay!
Then maybe we could follow all this up by a DVD viewing of the Battle of the Sexes, the triumphant tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs!
But instead of inundating these girls with the heroes of the fight for women’s rights , I took a simpler approach and talked openly and honestly with them. I encouraged them to be independent and strong. I told them that while many of us will choose to enter a partnership with a man, it should be just that; a partnership. No man, whether human or vampire or werewolf, should ever completely define us or render us incapable without him.
So those young women listened to my literary criticism and my life advice and hopefully some of it sank in.
But a few weeks ago, with my scissors and my stencil, I got to truly express my feelings about this book and its influence on our youth. I got to put Twilight in the same category as an old map that is no longer accurate and that is stained with coffee.
So I cut it up and made it into something better.
Next project….the deconstruction and upcycling of New Moon!!
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