Full disclosure: I have, indeed, read Twilight.

The first installment of the Young Adult shit show series was the first book I chose to celebrate the completion of my B.A. last spring, and it was definitely the right pick. Having graduated with degrees in English literature and cultural anthropology, Stephenie Meyer’s tribute to teenage lust and bodily restraint seemed like the perfect antidote to my last five years’ required reading: light, fluffy, fun, and maybe even a little hot.

Despite the ridicule I suffered at the hands of both my total lit-snob friends and my wry inner monologue, I actually enjoyed it. I didn’t enjoy it quite enough to run back to the library to get its sequels, but while I was reading it, I tore through it like a Toronto raccoon in your mother’s dumpster. It brought me back to feelings I remembered from my adolescence: obsessive crushes, heated grope fests, that first “I love you,”and and the redemptive thrill of having it all returned.

The book also brought back other, more troubling memories. Specifically, I was reminded of the many nights I once spent abandoning my friends and hobbies to be with a jealous, emotionally demanding–but oh-so-hot and completely devoted– partner. The relationship between sparkle vamp Edward and mortal Bella is a mutually destructive, socially isolating trainwreck that eerily mirrors the patterns developed by a lot of young girls (including my teenage self) who, due to whatever insecurities, let their relationships become the thing that defines their lives.

I'm glad I'm not Bella

Instead of introducing this dynamic to make a teaching point and, maybe, present a more psychologically sound alternative, Meyer elevates this obsessiveness to a kind of heroic ideal. One live journal writer picked up on this, and compared the characteristics of Twilight‘s trans-mortal power couple with the National Domestic Violence hotline’s  list of signs of an abusive relationship. One answer of “yes” to any of the hotline’s listed questions indicates the likelihood of an abusive relationship; for Edward and Bella, there were 15.

Not that I don’t think Twilight should be read. I can say pretty confidently that if the Twilight saga had been published a decade or so earlier, I would have been one of its biggest fans. Even now, I can get a kick out of the escapism of the story–which, while dreadfully written, is pretty fun to latch onto. And anything that gets people reading is perfectly fine in my book (pun intended). But, seriously, it’d be nice if we could give our young girls a model of a healthy relationship to look up to–or, better yet, a heroine with a life outside of her boyfriend.