Research Starting Point: Why do authors of fiction glamorize unpleasant or traumatic events?

Hello folks!

 I'm going to dive into my actual research soon, this is just the beginning point. I  have collected three examples of how authors/stories glamorize these types of events. And these are just my own opinions so far. It's difficult to justify these types of things because everybody has different perceptions of stories. I will leave links that describe the books I'm talking about for those who are unfamiliar. (I will also be using language relevant to traumatic scenarios, just a heads up.) 

 1. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. While it's a successful book, the author has glossed over the fact that the characters are struggling with serious terminal cancer. Aside from half a chapter and a few smaller scenes, there really isn't much about the characters coping with their illness. The author has packed the book with romance, dialogue, and extensive vocabulary instead. This could be that the author was trying to show how the characters were making the most out of the days they had left and didn't want to include much about their treatments/illness in the plot, but I don't feel like the characters physical struggles were justified. 

2. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. This book was recently made into a TV series (that I haven't seen) and there was a LOT of controversy about it. I read the book and really liked it, actually, but I felt the suicide situation was ignored. This might just be the viewers/readers who've shared there thoughts were too caught up to pay attention. Or the author was building suspense, which is understandable. As well, the story wasn't from the point of view of the suicidal character, so I can see how it wouldn't be mentioned every single second. However, I felt the plot was putting the spotlight more on the drama, rather than this young woman's pain and mental health concerns. Not to mention, the book didn't portray the counsellor very respectfully or effectively. 

3. All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. I loved this book, though I thought the author used mental illness as a way to connect the two leads and make them fall in love. I've read a lot about the author herself and she could've been incorporating her personal struggles into the story, but an impressionable audience could get the wrong idea. I felt like the mental health elements were dealt with honestly and respectfully, but the elements themselves seemed like kind of a plot device. 

 Anyways, please let me know if you agree/disagree with me! As a lot of my research will be derived from reader's thoughts, I love comments from all of you. I am aware that these are all YA novels about straight, white, cisgender, middle-class American teenagers, so I would love suggestions on more diverse books that could be useful for the project as well. 

 My nest research round will be about why these events are glamorized. 

 Thank you for reading!

 Links to aforementioned books;


 Sources: My copies of the above books as well as your lovely comments! 

Original Post

Hello, Sophie! 

Good job! l like how you went into details about each book that you read and made a detailed explanation of reader's thoughts. As you said, you could look at more diverse books and see what are the differences between those books and the books that you chose. I found a link on the internet, hopefully it helps you with your research! Links are below:

Hey Sophie! 

I definitely think that you're onto something with this research topic! It can be a very controversial and difficult thing to write a work of fiction surrounding illnesses or conditions that pertain to people in real life. An author must ensure that they do justice not only to the characters that they create, but also to the people who will be able to relate to them. This said, I definitely agree with you in many respects. For example, 13 Reasons Why, though I've only seen the show, did romanticize suicide, and make to topic seem less threatening, and more approachable. And, while this approachability can be great in sparking discussions of suicide prevention, it should not be encouraging young teens to commit suicide themselves. 

One way that I disagree with you, however, is in the case of The Fault in Our Stars. I've read this book, and I felt like what the author was trying to achieve in this story was not to glamorize cancer, because in reality, the book didn't have much to do with cancer at all in terms of the characters and their development. This, in my opinion at least, was a coming of age story about kids living in spite of cancer, not living with cancer. Maybe you feel differently, and I completely see where you're coming from with your opinion, but like you said, stories can be interpreted in all kinds of ways. 

Good luck with your research!  

Hi Sophie!

I think that this topic is amazing and I for one had not really paid attention to these issues in books such as the ones you have mentioned. I do agree that a difficult part of this subject is how so much of it is based off perception. With that being said, being able to voice why you believe that the authors are in fact glamorising such traumatic events is a very important tool to get your point across and possibly persuade readers.

I do however disagree with your theory about The Fault in our Stars for the soul fact that yes, the author did romanticise the character's terminal cancer, however the main characters themselves did not sugar coat how sick they actually were. I feel that the point of the book was not to romanticise trauma or glamorise it, but to show people that no matter how bad the situation they are in that not all of your cards have been played yet and all though it may feel like the end (or a new beginning) you never know how the next card laid will affect you. Which I feel provides a realistic view on these illnesses in the most gentle  way possible.

Overall great start and I hope that you are able to find more controversial  examples just like these! Good luck! 


Hi Sophie,

Most often, books will provide the readers with some way to connect with the main characters, to get to know them better or tie in the storyline with their past. This can also develop the characters and let the readers get more of a sense of who they are. This topic intrigued me and I'm so excited to hear your next round.  I like how you gave the two examples of the books that you have read and tie that in with your research. 

here are some sites that are related to your research:


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