For some reason with all the drama going on in my life and all the other stuff I need to get done, I decided to reread Twlight: New Moon. New Moon is my favorite book of the series. It has lots of Jacob, not so much Edward, and you see the Volturi for the first time, which is exciting.
Reading the book again, I noticed that there actually is some good writing. Meyer really manages to convey the pain of going through a break up--especially your first one, especially when it was also your first true love. I didn't date at all in high school or college, but since the last time I've read New Moon and now, I've gone through a break up with my true love, and let me tell you, it's hard enough in your 20s when even at the worst moments there's a little voice in your head saying, "You're fucking awesome. And you're still fucking awesome even if the only person you've ever loved just doesn't find you interesting anymore." When you're a teenager, you don't know that.
So I began reading this book as the story of someone who had her first love, mostly based on hormones and inexplicable attraction rather than long term compatibility. And like many relationships it falls apart when the guy loses interest and the fundamental issues rear their ugly head. Of course, because this is fantasy, we readers can guess that Edward is just as torn up about the breakup as Bella is, and he's only leaving her so she can have the chance to live a normal life.
Which, you know, actually still really fucking hurts. Because when you're in love you're like, "Fuck normal life. Fuck convenience. Being with this person is enough to make up for everything else." But then one day one person can wake up and go, "Nah. Normal life is more important." Even if it was supposedly for Bella's good, it still wasn't what she wanted.
Next Bella goes through a lot of pain over the next few months, because the person she built her life around is gone, and she's living in the same place with all the same old memories but not the person she shared them with. That's rough. Edward was a huge part of her life in Forks. For her, Forks almost is Edward. Which is both why she wants to stay and why it's so painful for her there.
However, sooner or later Bella breaks the pattern of only seeing old scenes and being reminded of Edward, and she meets someone new: Jacob. She starts developing new interests and new routines she didn't have before. At least in the moment, she feels better. But the pain still comes back when she's alone.
The weird thing is that reading this book as an adult, I can see that Bella/Jacob is a much better pairing than Bella/Edward. Edward and Bella spend most of their time talking about their love, because it seems like they just don't have anything else in common to talk about. Okay, maybe they both like books. But even the Romeo and Juliet movie just reminds them of their own romance. On the other hand, Jacob and Bella have their own little in-jokes (who's older), their projects, their shared childhood.
I'm not sure whether Jacob integrates better into Bella's social circle. He does at least agree to go to a movie with everyone, which Edward never does. And Jacob's dad gets along pretty well with Bella's dad, although I can't really call the Cullen family unfriendly when they're mostly concerned about Jasper biting someone. So I'm not going to go with a hard "Edward isolates Bella" line, but I feel like the werewolf has fewer social issues than the vampire.
Other good points about Team Jacob is that it feels more like a relationship between equals. Jacob repairs the motorcycles, but Bella makes the plan and provides the funds. Bella initiates plans with Jacob. She thinks hard about what she does and doesn't want from their relationship and tells him honestly. He also is honest with her and understanding about her feelings. Whereas with Edward Bella was just sucked into a relationship with no will of her own, with Jacob she's acting on her own will.
Instead of considering it impossible for Jacob to love her, Bella just knows that he does, even though she can't give him everything he's hoping for. Instead of doubting him, she's secure in him.
Overall, the story feels like a slow de-tox from a very intense relationship, and the beginning of a healthier one. But of course, with any addiction there is also extinction burst. Every time Bella is happy with Jacob, her depression comes back doubly strong to make her pay for it later. The more she's drawn to Jacob, the more conflicted she gets.
Eventually Bella and Edward are thrown back together by the Plot Monster and de-tox switches into full relapse. The heightened emotions of seeing each other again and realizing they both still have feelings for each other are just too strong. Now they are more strongly tied before, because if they ever think of breaking up, the question is not "It would hurt so much. How could we stand it?" but "We tried. It didn't work. It's not an option."
But I can't really fault the story for ending on a relapse because this is also a true-to-life ending, although it's a sadder one. I would like Bella to move on, but I know how hard that is to do. I remember meeting up with my ex to see a movie once and just feeling so right hugging him again. Like this was how things were truly meant to be. Then we saw the movie and ended up having a huge fight after because he found out I had hooked up with someone after he dumped me. Yeah. Not exactly true love.
On the other hand, reading the book encouraged me not to be afraid to move on. Look at the good relationship unfolding right in front of you instead of idealizing the past. Sometimes you get lightning instant attraction, and sometimes you get, "Damn, why do I keep liking you more and more?" and both are real.