It starts at Midnight

Full disclosure: I don’t know that any of these qualify as actual tropes. They just happen to be in my mind, okay? Anyway, these are just a few things I have seen in books- not once or twice, but more often- that have left me scratching my head, wondering why is this a thingSo, here they are, the random things that have made me twitchy while reading lately! 


What it is: Well, as the name suggests, it has to to with Nirvana. You know, the band with that dude who died before you were probably even born? (Seriously Val, you haven’t seen him since 1994. Too soon?)

Anyway, it’s these guys. And more specifically, it’s featuring them when they have no actual business being in a book. Look, if you’re writing a book set in the 90s, please, have at it! Don’t let me ruin the fun. And hey, maybe I am just an old lady who doesn’t know anything, and everyone actually does still love Nirvana?

Why it Doesn’t Work for Me: Well, it most famously grabbed me in Love Letters to the Dead. Which I didn’t like, so that could be part of it? I have seen it since in other contemporaries, to a lesser extent. And I think there is actually a whole book about someone wanting Kurt Cobain to be their dad or something? So, I guess it’s mostly in contemporaries. Because I really can’t see this being a “thing” anywhere else. But it’s generally some young person having a pretty solid idolisation of Kurt and/or Nirvana. For reasons, but likely ones that aren’t fully explained.

I guess I frankly just don’t get why a bunch of kids would be obsessed with a band that their parents were probably obsessed with? I don’t know about you, but me and my parents weren’t exactly frequenting the same concerts back in the day.

When it Works: Again, the 1990s. Any book set in that decade gets a pass. I was actually too young (yes, I was too young for something once) to really be interested in Nirvana, but I was aware enough to know it was a huge thing- and a super sad thing when he died. So yeah, Nirvana- and Kurt Cobain- totally have a place in books, but it’s called “twenty years ago”.  I can also tolerate it if there is an actual reason for the inclusion (but it’d have to be a good one!)


What it is: Sad, newly parentless young person gets shipped off to live with someone they’ve never met (and in some cases, haven’t heard of) in a place far, far away. This place seems to be Europe, for the most part. But cross-country United States works too. The young person generally knows little more than the name and location of the randos who will now be raising them.

Why it Doesn’t Work for Me: Because I wouldn’t send my kid to live with strangers in a land far, far away? I mean, the weirdest part is that in a lot of these cases, there are logical alternatives. Crazy choices like grandparents are overlooked for the far more reasonable choice of “that guy I used to know from college”, or “cousin I met that one time who seems extra shady”. Look, this makes sense never. Your kid is already probably unsettled since you’re, you know, dead and all. So why not uproot their entire lives? That totally won’t fuck them up until the end of forever.

When it WorksI fantasy situations, mainly. When I am already suspending my belief, or when there is just a different set of social rules and norms, it can work. For example, in Into the Dim, I was able to buy it, based on the storyline. But in a modern day contemporary? You’re never going to sell me on this actually happening.


What it is: Like the name suggests, this is a character consuming lunch in the bathroom, much like Lindsay Lohan’s Cady Heron in Mean Girls. A twist on this is lunch consumption in other non-cafeteria locations, but the toilet one makes me the most stabby.

Why it Doesn’t Work for Me: Because it isn’t normal! It’s a joke in a movie, written by Tina Fey, who called and wants her trope back. Plus, and again, maybe this is just me, but teachers would probably have frowned upon students randomly ditching lunch? And they’d sure notice if someone walked out of the cafeteria with a lunch tray and headed to the damn bathroom with it. I read a book recently where the character takes their lunch the library, and again, I must ask how? Because again, I don’t think that the librarian is just going to let some kids come traipsing through with some ramen noodles and a Diet Coke.

When it Works: Literally never. Please can I never see this again, ever? Thanks.


What it is: A character not being liked by a friend/significant other’s parents for the sole reason of being in a lower socioeconomic class. Inversely, a character’s parent not liking their friend/significant other for this reason.

Why it Doesn’t Work for Me: I mean, I guess people exist who are that rude and misinformed, but I don’t think on the level that this trope assumes. I am not talking about the parent not liking the kid because they’ve screwed up, or are in trouble with the law, or anything like that. Just random, nice kid; happens to not have money. That…that is awful and infuriating! And it is often just for the sake of convenience, to create some kind of rift between the characters. Find a better way than poor shaming. Is poor shaming a thing? I don’t like it.

When it Works: I guess if the point is to illustrate what complete douchecanoes the parents are… well, then you’ve certainly achieved that goal.


What it is: This can happen in any book with any sexual identities and orientations and such, but since this is the way I usually see it go down, I’ll use this example: Boy and girl have known each other forever. Girl smiles at boy. Boy suddenly proclaims “I had never even thought about Sally in that way until that moment”.  Boy pines away for Sally until Sally realized that she now looks at him “in that way”. Happily ever after ensues.

Why it Doesn’t Work for Me: Because of course you noticed each other. Maybe you were not interested in each other, but if Boy likes girls, and Sally is around… he’s noticed Sally. To say he hasn’t is absurd. Maybe he thought “Sally is my friend, I shall not view her in a sexual way”, but that’s as close as it gets. When we’d be introduced to a new batch of swimmers on the guy’s team every year, I noticed them. I didn’t have feelings for them all (that would be kind of odd, no?) but I took notice. How do you not? Isn’t that kind of how you find someone that you are interested in? Not by going around with blinders on? 

When it Works: I…. don’t think it does? Because it’s simply not believable! See Game On for a realistic way to address “someone I’ve known forever”. Realistic and still keeps with the same plot! A win, yes?

Have you encountered any of these? Do they bother you, or am I just oddly bothered by random things?

Are there any “little things” in books that bug you? Do share, so we can be perturbed together! 

Posted August 11, 2016 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 81 Comments

81 responses to “Lesser Known (But Still Kind of Annoying) Tropes

  1. I have noticed most of these, but I never classified it as a trope. But that’s what it is, and they are annoying.

    My high school didn’t allow food in the library, and I’m pretty sure someone would have gotten in trouble for taking their lunch tray to the bathroom. If such a high school exists, could someone say so? I agree that that is annoying, but I don’t see it as often in fantasy YA.

    As for the “I’ve known you forever but I’ve never noticed,” I think there are rare circumstances for that to happen. A character would have to be that clueless, number one. Except that it seems you’re focusing more on the best friend or a close friend never noticing, I would say that it might happen with an enemy or an acquaintance/not-so-close friend. As you point out, it would make sense in a book with a focus on sexual identity and orientation. Since the trope tends to happen more with heterosexual couples in the books I’ve read, it seems to be more that the boy friend is always pining and the girl doesn’t notice, unless you watch anime, which seems to have switched that.

    One problem I have with that trope is that more often than not the friends don’t end up together at the end. If they’re toxic to each other, they shouldn’t be together. It would be nice to see one instance where the two close friends, who are good for each other, end up together. Another issue is that this usually comes up to create a love triangle, usually when Sally is about to start a relationship with Hot Boy. Then Sally is confused, and Boy and Hot Boy hate each other openly.

    It’s refreshing to see a post talking about lesser known tropes. Great post!

    • Dude, RIGHT!? Who had food allowed in their library!? And we had a teacher actually standing in the DOORWAY of the cafeteria so Idk how people are sauntering by with food anyway! 😂

      I agree with you about the friends one too! I like when they stay together- I have read a few books where that DOES work, but I agree that it is mostly the way you described. With the DREADED CRAPPY TRIANGLE. GAH I hate that so much- it’s not a triangle that makes any sense! Grrr.

      Thanks so much!! 😀

  2. i am mystified as to why Nirvana is a trope for authors. I am also mystified why there are bobblehead of Kurt Cobain — that’s just wrong. This is list is awesome. The Never Noticed Trope is so right, as is the one with Orphans sent to Strangers. Or people ending up in an out of the way haunted house or something. Can I also add: the trope wherein the parents are awful, and the kid wants to run away and live with someone as if there’s nothing wrong with that? And in fact, why are parents always so awful? Why can’t they be supportive and kids turn to them for guidance? Family is everything, and even if they’re difficult it’s actually better to read about them working through something rather than just lumping the parents in the “awful” category.

    • There is a BOBBLEHEAD?! No. NO! That is definitely wronG! I think it probably has something to do with the influence of Nirvana on the authors’ own lives? That’s my only guess 😂 And OMG the haunted house, good call, that one is incredibly dumb too bwhahah.

      The running away thing mystifies me too! And YESSSS to the parents just NOT being awful. I know it happens SOMETIMES, but wayyyyy too disproportionately in books, that is for sure! Most families really ARE trying their best and love their kid!

  3. These definitely count as tropes!! And tbh, I’ve thought about the 90s and just generally older music one. OMG. Just having the books where the teens are complete hipsters and can’t listen “to anything after the 90s”….it’s kind of annoying.😂 like if you listen to older music you’re somehow better than anyone who listens to newer music!? EQUALITY FOR ALL MUSIC LISTENERS. Anyway, I am a young delicate bean and I don’t even really know who Kurt Cobain and Co all are (like apart from recognising the names). WHOOOOPS.

    • BWHAHAH Cait, I love you. I mean, you have a lot of strikes against knowing Nirvana. Like, you weren’t alive at the same time. And they were from the US. So yeah, you really don’t have much of a need to know, unless apparently you are in a contemporary YA, then you’d better get obsessed with them, in a hurry! Maybe write a letter to his ghost, or some such nonsense 😉

  4. Ha!!! Love this. The Nirvana one is funny but how were you too young(we are the same age I think maybe kind of) ? I totally was into Nirvana. Maybe I was too young too be into them though who knows!! I am happy to see a RHONY gif so there is that. The eating in a non-cafeteria thing kills me. We were actually allowed to eat kind of all over but we were one of those small thought they were cool progressive schools but we could never eat in a bathroom or library. Library because we could spill stuff on books and bathrooms because yuck. “Tina Fey, who called and wants her trope back” <—–LOL. OK so I will say I don't mind the last one and i have no reason at all for it 🙂 Great post!!!

    • I was like, *just* too young. I think I was… 11 maybe when KC died? Yeah. And I was like, not super mature for my age, so I wasn’t really interested in most popular music. I listened to like, Celine Dion, pre-Titanic 😉 And I am glad you don’t mind it! I don’t know why it irritates me as much as it does, maybe because of all my unrequited loves as a teen (and adult… and all the time 😒 )

  5. The “shipped away” trope yes on the book Into the Dim too. The “student eating in the toilet” was an idea of embarassment in many books but never done. Good post! 🙂

  6. I’ve also noticed the “I’m obsessed with old music” trope. I’m not a music lover, so I’ve usually never heard of the band/music the character is obsessed with. The orphans trope could work in historical fiction. Before there were laws, people could do whatever they wanted with their kid. I ditched lunch in high school because I was bullied in the cafeteria. I never ate in the bathroom, though. That’s gross. High school bathrooms are not the cleanest.

    • I am the same- and I find that I tend to avoid books if I know that music is going to be a big part of it, tbh! Oh, the orphan thing totally works in non-contemporary- but NOW, not at all hahhaha. Maybe my school was just weird with the lunch thing? Though, I went to two different schools- one public and one private, and they were both similar, so who knows! I am sorry about the asshole bullies though 🙁

  7. Love the Nirvana comments. My “it’s becoming annoying” music trope keeps appearing in international lit (I read a lot of translated fiction). Whenever the authors want to show that a character is cool and a jazz fan, he’s listening to the Miles Davis album “Kind of Blue.” Which makes me think that non jazz fan authors don’t know any other jazz artists.
    In the mystery/suspense genres, I’m tired of “the metallic taste of blood in his/her mouth.” This is becoming as trite as “shots rang out.”

    • Thanks! And ohhh man, that sounds AWFUL- like he can only be “jazzy” if he likes that ONE album!? Bwhaha- I agree with you, sounds like some lazy research 😉 And OMG I do not like the “metallic taste” thing either, that is a good one!

  8. The Lemony Snicket series is a perfect example of the “orphans sent to strangers” trope working. But yeah in contemporaries, it bugged me why they wouldn’t just send their kids to a close relative.
    I completely agree with the “parents against poverty” trope, that some people can’t create any substantial rift between characters so they resort to this. It’s common in local soap dramas in my country and whenever I see it, I want to scream.

  9. Yes to those things you said. Nirvana, I did like them back in the day. I am that old. But YA novels that are CONTEMPORARY? No, no one these days should have even heard of them. Reaching a bit much. And the random strangers orphan thing… um.. who puts that crap in their will? And no, no one can eat in the library. Or randomly wander halls outside of the general cafeteria and quad areas, because teachers notice. At least they did in my day (yes, I’m that old LOL).

    • I mean, I am CLOSE to that old 😉 Just… not quite there hahah. I was 11 I think, when Kurt Cobain died. So only a year or two shy hahha. But still, WHY do so many kids in contemporary obsess with someone that their PARENTS were likely obsessed with? That is the weird part- it isn’t like it’s old enough to come back around again, because in my experience, kids don’t like the stuff their parents liked as teens (mostly BECAUSE their parents liked it, I figure 😂 ) And YES, you can’t do some of this stuff! Like, I don’t think you can send your kid to randos even in your will? Like I am sure there’s a lot of legal stuff behind it all. And yes, teachers definitely did patrols- we had teachers right at the doors, so Idk how people are just sauntering out of the cafeteria!

  10. Great topic, Shannon! I didn’t even know Nirvana in books was a thing. And now that I do all I can think is: why? I was very much around in their heyday (in my early 20’s in the early 90’s) and even then I didn’t get it. So it sure doesn’t make sense to me why (fictional) teens would be all into them 25 years later. Hm. The orphan thing. Isn’t it odd how there’s *never* any family to send the kid to? Or, any family the kid actually knows? It’s like every parent was an only child and there’s only a distant relative that lives 8,000 miles away. Always. Poverty – ha! I *just* finished a book where the mother (of an adult woman, mind you) was all snooty and class-conscious about the daughter’s boyfriend. Seriously? I even made a note about it on my Kindle. Something like: “Is this 2016 or Victorian England?” LOL

    • Bwhahha in truth, I didn’t “get it” either- I was younger, but even when I was older I was kind of confused. I mean… maybe it just isn’t my thing? But I definitely think kids today wouldn’t want to be bothered with a band that is A) Dead and B) Their parents probably were into.

      And YES- like, the dead parent knew NO ONE except this super close friend across the world, only the orphan never heard this person referenced before EVER? Come on. And YESSS about the poverty thing! I just finished a book that I actually did mostly like, but this dude’s mom HATED his girlfriend, for no other reason than she was poor-ish. Not even like, actual poor, just quasi-poor. It was so WEIRD.

  11. Loved this post. Drain You was a YA book that had a weird obsession with Nirvana, it’s even named after one of their songs. I don’t get the Nirvana appeal.
    The eating in the restroom thing is so cliche. If I had no friends and had to eat lunch alone, there are a MILLION other places I would consider before a restroom!

    • OMG I have to look up Drain You because… WHY!? It was in Love Letters to the Dead of course, but then there was a book I read recently-ish, and I cannot freaking remember what book it was, but it talked about Nirvana a lot and I was like…. BUT WHY!?

      And seriously- who eats lunch in a bathroom stall- on the damn TOILET?! That is filthy and foul and wrong. Go eat in a closet, or in a stairwell, but the TOILET!? No. Just no. Thanks, my dear! ♥

  12. I haven’t read the Kurt Cobain book, but I actually enjoyed Love Letters to the Dead… and there were many other dead people who received letters there, no?
    It’s funny that we have some of those things that just grate on our nerves and makes it too difficult to sit down and just enjoy a story. And I totally agree that these are ate least trope-y…
    Eating in the restroom is just disgusting! There must be better places to hide out and have lunch if the cafeteria is too difficult to face, no?

    • There WERE other dead people in Love Letters to the Dead, but the whole thing started with Kurt Cobain, because the sister was obsessed with him too? Which confused me, because WHY are these teenaged girls so obsessed with him!? There wasn’t’ even a real reason behind it, and also, I really just HATED Laurel so I am not very helpful 😉 And you are right- I think sometimes it is just “one of those things” where we just get bugged by something hahah.

      And YES- there must be a billion places other than the bathroom to have lunch- like ANY place that doesn’t house toilets? 😂

  13. I don’t understand the Nirvana thing either. I mean I love nirvana (they are from my generation) and I think some younger kids may like them too. I mean I love bands from my parents generation because I am a huge music lover, but this isn’t the norm to be obsessed with your parents music and what not. Idk this one just seems weird to me, but I haven’t read any books with that in it. Maybe I’m subconsciously avoiding them lol! Love this post/topic!

  14. Oh how I love this post! RE: Nirvana, that book Save Me, Kurt Cobain first comes to mind. That book really, really bugged me.

    But yes, the Cady Heron, the Parents Against Poverty (just saw this one in With Malice and it was so infuriating) and the Orphans Sent to Strangers have all cropped up and have all disappointed me. It’s so weird how much some of these lesser known tropes are being used more frequently and not successfully, in my opinion.

    • Aw thank you!! ♥ Bwhahah the whole concept of that book bugged me. I mean, I didn’t read it because I wanted to stab something just thinking about it, so maybe I have no room to talk but… NO. And that makes me sad about With Malice too, since I clearly hate this trope bwhaha. I agree with you SO much- why are these popping up? They almost NEVER work, save for VERY specific situations so.. WHY!? Please stop, everyone!

  15. These are all definitely valid tropes, though I haven’t encountered much Nirvana in books. Then again.. I don’t really read contemporaries much, and there aren’t too many fantasy books that are all “hey, let’s go slay that dragon, but don’t forget to grab your iPod so we can blast Nirvana while doing it” XD I totes cracked up while reading this!

    Brittany @ Brittany’s Book Rambles

    • BWHAHAHHA DYING. It’s so funny that you mention that, because in The 100 (Idk if you watch, but I am obsessed) it’s all post apocalypse, and then randomly… they have an iPod and that struck me as really, really weird- but slaying dragons would be MUCH stupider 😂

  16. The “I never noticed X person” drives me up a wall seriously. Especially because it’s almost always a case of a guy not noticing a girl because she wasn’t pretty/thin/exciting/outgoing enough. And suggests that she previously wasn’t worth his attention but has now finally done something worthy enough. Which is beyond annoying. Noticing and not giving someone the time of day are very different.

    • UGHHH YESSS. YES! I want to like, clap for this comment, because you nailed it! It IS different- and I hate that it implies that girls are basically invisible or something, until Whatever Thing happens. And YES, it is 99% of the time a girl who is the “unnoticed”. Which is infuriating.

  17. This is my favorite post of the week. I’ve thought every single thing you bring up in this post.

    What’s funny is that I’ve asked all of the teenagers that i know if they’re fans of Nirvana or The Beatles or The Rolling Stones and only two (of like 30 kids) knew who those bands were. The songs they knew were remakes and a huge chunk of them only knew Mick Jagger from being in that Maroon 5 song.

  18. Oh you’ve opened a can of worms with this one, Shannon! 🙂 I’m quite perturbed about dystopians that have a passage of rite where the older are let go for the young and vital. The last dystopian had a Ceremony of Descent at 35. I think what bothers me most is how communal people become and just accept it. Just one of my many complaints about trending themes. =)

    • Bwhahahha ooops? 😂 And that is so weird- I have read a couple books like that too, I think, but none recently. I think with those, I can *almost* tolerate it if it seems to be used as a social commentary? Like, how we don’t value OUR older population, and why it is ridiculous? But if it is just for shits and giggles… yeah, I am totally with you!

  19. Wow, I can relate to some of these. Nothing against Nirvana but there was more to the 90’s than JUST Nirvana for $%^&’s sake. Actually I hated Nirvana lol. And orphans- how many YA’s would disappear if that was suddenly disallowed? lol And the “suddenly noticing” thing- I think I just read something with that recently, wish I could remember the book. They’d been friends forever but now suddenly “oh you’re the opposite sex and attractive, I just noticed.” Yeah right…

    • SO accurate. I mean, I wasn’t a fan of Nirvana, so I don’t get it on that level either, but I REALLY don’t get why some kid today would care. AT all. BWAHHA seriously, the orphan trope is so stupid, yet SO common. And yes- please, you did not just notice that your best friend was a girl at like, 18 years old. She’s been a female since forever, and probably hasn’t even changed that much so… I don’t understand how you JUST figured that out. So dumb.

  20. YOU’RE RIGHT. I am just way too young for Nirvana. I’m sorry to say, but I don’t really know who Kurt Cobain is. Or his band. And sure I feel bad about it, but it wasn’t in my time. “Haven’t seen him since 1994” truth right there.

    Haha fun story about the parents not liking the poor kid. My best friend was dating someone who spoke Cantonese. And her parents didn’t like him because they reasoned that 1) He spoke Cantonese which means his parents speak Cantonese to him. 2) This means that his parents primarily speak Cantonese at home. 3) This meant that his parents didn’t meet in college because in college Mandarin is mainly spoken, apparently. 4) This means that his parents are of a lower social status because they probably didn’t go to college.


    • To be fair, NO ONE has seen him since 1994 so… (seriously, too soon?) But yeah, like- think about you like, 5 years ago- you didn’t give a shit about Nirvana then, just like very, very few teens do now. Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.

      I feel like that could be more of a cultural thing? Either way, your friends parents are stretching 😂 Maybe they should just send her on that dating show. That would help everyone, but especially me.

  21. This was awesome and such a refreshing post to read omg. I know a lot of us complain about tropes – but usually it’s about the love-at-first-sight, manic-pixie-girl, love-triangle, etc. tropes. This was just unique and I honestly hadn’t thought about how annoying some of these tropes actually were haha xD
    The “I never noticed him/her like that” one definitely irritates me sometimes! I know I do it sometimes with people in real life…but I dunno, sometimes it’s just the way it’s written? I guess that’s the thing with a lot of tropes for me – it always depends on how they are written!

    • Aww thank you!! I was thinking about it much the same way- like, some of the “usual” tropes have calmed down a bit it seems (yay!) but new ones are popping up to irritate me 😉

      And like.. I guess maybe it never HAS happened to me in real life? Like I have never spent a LOT of time with someone and then one day “suddenly” noticed that they existed as a male? Like maybe I wasn’t INTERESTED in them before, but I knew that too, if that makes sense? I think you are very right, it IS the way it is written, most likely!

  22. Whenever I read about “orphan sent to stranger” trope I also wonder where are the other relatives. Like aunt, or uncles? Grandparents? Anyone?? I mean some of them are sent to their relatives, but it would definitely be the “relatives that lives farfar away in a gothic mansion”. Also with the cady heron… I can never eat in the bathroom! It’s just… gross. I don’t know how people in the books could manage it. And yeah I also wonder about eating in the library thing, because all libraries I know have pretty strict rules about food and drinks. I also don’t get why Nirvana is the only band mentioned… I mean there had to be other famous musicians at that period right?

    I saw these ‘trope’ in some books too, but I never think of it as a trope 😀

    • YES I wonder that too! In one book there even WERE grandparents who lived in the US, but nope, girl was sent to Europe to some rando!

      And eating in the bathroom is just nasty. The germs! The… unpleasant odor. Just no.

      And YEP, there were lots of other bands. Frankly, I want to read about The Spice Girls, or Ace of Base, or Hanson- you know, someone you should have been good and ashamed to listen to. Spoiler, I had all three CDs. And even the cassette tape for Ace of Base 😂

  23. OMG Love Letters to the Dead almost KILLED me because it made me so RAGEY. She’s like Dear Kurt Cobain, I’m stupid and know nothing about you. BUT I read on Wikipedia that you killed yourself and that’s sad 🙁 Seriously girl, if you don’t listen to the music and you aren’t from the 90’s, don’t talk about Kurt Cobain!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe it’s the 90’s girl in me, but I don’t like my growing up years decade messed with!

    • OMG YESSSSS! I LOVE YOU because those were my EXACT THOUGHTS while reading that book! Like, I had some friends who, after Kurt Cobain killed himself, suddenly feigned this HUGE interest in Nirvana, and i was like, not cool, guys. You didn’t even know who they were before, and now suddenly you have all the t-shirts? No, just no.

  24. That last one! I also like to call that the “I like him because he likes me” trope, which sends a very damaging message (girls- remember that you owe every boy who deigns to notice you, love if possible, sex at a minimum) and I actually thought that was a thing when I was a teen. Granted, YA wasn’t even a genre then, but I saw it over and over again in movies, how one person didn’t realize the other was at all romantically interesting until they found out they were liked by them. GAH!

    Also, not to blow up your trope complaint about lunch in the bathroom, but at my school (high school and middle school both, actually) we didn’t have a cafeteria. Everyone ate wherever (usually not inside classrooms) on their laps (San Diego, 1300+ students, we didn’t need an indoor environment for lunch and couldn’t build one large enough anyway). So at my high school, I’m absolutely certain people could have taken their lunch to the bathroom if they were upset or scared. However, you would absolutely be a social pariah if anyone found out because eating in a germ-riddled poo-smelling place is beyond gross. And high school girls can be super mean.

    • Oh yes, this is SO. TRUE. It is a really damaging message- and one I think was HUGE when we were younger, especially.

      Also, you didn’t have a cafeteria!? That… is fascinatinG! I mean, obviously in Pennsylvania, hanging around outside wasn’t going to happen, but wow, that is really intriguing to me. Like, my brother’s high school was big, and I went there for 8th grade (it was weird, 8-12 were in the high school) and they had a huge cafeteria- and you definitely couldn’t go elsewhere. And then when I went to MY high school, NO ONE left the cafeteria- even just going to the bathroom for the ACTUAL bathroom required permission, but that was a private school, so who knows hahah. You have blown my mind with the cafeteria-less setting- and it makes me sad to think that some girls actually had to eat in the bathrooM! 🙁

  25. I am glad I haven’t encountered most of these or at least not often. I mean eating lunch in a weird place might make sense, but eating lunch on the toilet just seems gross somehow. The orphans sent to strangers I have encountered a few times and yes in most cases there would be someone they did know were they could live, like grandparents or other family members. And yes sometimes it works, but not always. I don’t like the parents against poverty trope, but I do think it sounds realistic as long as it doesn’t turn into a too big of a conflict/ problem. I mean people judge others on the weirdest things and being from another socioeconomic class definitely can be one of those things. So yes I do think this is realistic sadly. Although I still don’t like if they make too big of a thing in books, as then it just feels like the conflict is blown out of proportion or there for the sake of having a conflict. Great post!

    • Same, same, the toilet is NOT the place to consume food! And YES, that is the thing- I get if there is literally NO ONE else, but why, if there are other family members, would any reasonable parent DO that!? I do agree with you about the judginess on some level, because people ARE like that, sadly. But I think when it gets to the point where parents try to break up friendships/relationships over it is kind of weird- and gross! And thanks!! ♥

  26. Huh. I don’t think I’ve heard of “The Cady Heron” probably because I’ve not *gasp* seen “Mean Girls.” Either way, I agree that’d be an awkward trope. Tropes, in general, are seen too frequently in books (or films) and it’s wearisome. Sometimes, depending on the story, we do excuse them for various reasons where we don’t in other stories. But that’s okay. Sometimes, no matter the tropes, we enjoy a story too much to nitpick, you know!? Here’s hoping there’s more cleverness to come in our reading! 🙂

    • Get thee to a TV/computer and watch Mean Girls! It is one of my favorites, and I don’t even like movies much 😂 And I agree with you, there are times I totally enjoy stories despite tropes! But sometimes the thing annoys me so much that I cannot help but nitpick 😉 OR the story bugs me as a whole, so I find reasons to hate it, probably- oops!

  27. Yeah, Nirvana really only works if the book is in the 90’s or something like Love Letters to the Dead, because she writes more than just Kurt Cobain – it just happens to be famous people who have passed and somehow relate to her or her life.

    I do find the “eating lunch in the bathroom” trope to be kind of weird. Do schools have toilets that have a lid? I mean, I’ve never seen them and mine certainly didn’t so there’s really not safe way to be sitting on the toilet seat eating.


    • You know, that is a GOOD POINT about the lid- NO, no they do not! Like all public toilets, right? EW that makes it even worse!

      And I know she does write to other people in LLttD, but I also didn’t understand why she wrote to ANY of them, and I hated her as a character, so I am probably being nitpicky with that one, tbh 😉

  28. You make some pretty good points! There are so many other tropes besides the classic bad boy that are lurking in YA. I completely understand what you mean about Nirvana, and it happens with a ton of other artists too! It is highly unlikely that a high school student is going to be obsessed with a band that at least a decade before they were born.
    Also, I would rather read a book with a dozen love triangles than one that claims a student ate in the bathroom. 1. Those bathrooms are EXTREMELY tiny. I mean, its not like a 5-star hotel or anything. There is barely enough room to do your business, let alone eat a meal. 2. Teachers are not stupid. They will realize that you are walking to the bathroom with food and realize your intentions. And they will stop you since they are reasonable humans beings who know that bathrooms are too unsanitary to eat in.

    • Aw thank yoU! And yes- I think sometimes those tropes even start to diminish a bit, because we all get SO sick of them, but then other ones pop up in their place! It definitely does happen with other artists too- I don’t know why Nirvana bothers me more than most! You know what another one is? The Avett Brothers- I have seen them in several books, and I still don’t really know who they are.

      BWHAHA SO TRUE about the bathrooms too! They ARE tiny- you can barely fit yourself in there! And yes- what teacher is going to just watch a student walk into a bathroom with a LUNCH TRAY, and keep their job!? Such great points!

  29. LOL I agree with so many of these. I never understand how it’s possible that someone brings their lunch anywhere besides the cafeteria. When I was in high school (not that long ago, like 2005-9) the teachers would never let you leave the lunchroom without telling them what you’re up to and if you had a pass.

    Soooo weird when kids get sent to random people’s houses! That’s not how it works ever. THey’re way more likely to end up in some kind of foster care system than a random-ass distant relative.

    I will say, I think Nirvana’s inclusion into some books is kind of random… but I LOOOVE THEM. And I was like 3 when my boy Kurt Cobain died. I don’t know if actual young adults listen to Nirvana now but I totally did and still do. I think maybe the authors just pick an iconic artist or band from the past, so you can assume most people at least know who it is?

    • YES, yes, that is how it was at my high school too (going back much further, 1997-2000, but still hahah) you needed permission to leave- even during lunch!

      And YESSSS- they WOULD go to foster care rather than being SHIPPED OUT OF THE COUNTRY- especially to a non-relative!

      Bwhahahha I am so glad that I found someone who is relatively close in age to these kids and listens to Nirvana- it gives me hope that the trope can have some redemption 😉 To be honest, if they LIKED the band for the music, I think I could live with it, but like you said, it seems more “random 90s icon” than actual “I enjoy this music”.

  30. I actually ate lunch in the bathroom many times in high school, as I was bullied pretty hard. As long as I didn’t go to the cafeteria first I was fine to be in the bathroom for the whole time. Now this was way back in the mid 90’s so it’s probably different now.

    I totally agree with you on the kids being sent to rando’s homes. It always struck me as super odd.

    • Aww, sweetie, I am SO sorry to hear that you had to do that! I was in high school in the late 90s, and i know my school was crazy strict- there were teachers always milling around, even teachers who made passes THROUGH the bathrooms, so there’s no way someone could have gone unnoticed. I am really mad that you had to do that, why the hell are kids so cruel? Big hugs ♥

  31. This was such a great post, I loved reading it! And I have to admit, it’s quite refreshing to hear about these tropes, when all we can hear are the insta-love and love triangle ones. There are just SO many out there, it’s crazy, haha. 🙂

  32. OH MY GOSH yes to the Nirvana one!!! I know that because of Tumblr everything from the 80s/90s is considered “cool” now, especially the music and especially Nirvana/Kurt Cobain and it’s considered “uncool” to listen to current music (which is just silly, but each to his own) so maybe that’s why the authors incorporate it so that their books appeal to more people? I’ve also never understood orphans being shipped to random, and often strange, relatives! Wonderful post!

    • GAH NOOOOO. I have officially become old when shit from my childhood is coming back around. 😭 I mean, I guess if it IS a thing I can’t get *that* mad at it? Just kidding, I am totally going to still bitch about it 😉

      And thank you, my dear!

  33. Bringing food to random places is something I’ve definitely noticed. Yeah, at my school you ate your school in the cafeteria. The end. Maybe they’re a bit more lax nowadays? And I WAS old enough to pay attention to Nirvana, and I still can’t figure out why everyone would want to write about them. I guess it’s the equivalent to kids of my generation listening to the “oldies.”

    • Dude, same! And from what I have read/heard, schools are even MORE rigid and strict now so… I have no idea! And like- the thing with Nirvana is… did you ever listen to YOUR parents’ favorite “oldies” stuff? I did not. Ever. I mean, I had more of an appreciation as I got older I suppose, but still. Also, does this make us ancient? I fear it does… 😮

  34. Please be annoyed by more things and write about it because this is hilarious. I laughed out loud at “cousin I met that one time who seems extra shady”. :’D Also, I don’t know what kinds of books y’all are reading, because I don’t think I’ve come across a lot of Nirvana! To be fair, I would find it totally believable because pretty much all my friends know Nirvana and one of my classmates actually was a fan and had a Kurt Cobain poster in her room and everything. And I like their music too (though I mainly know the popular songs), so clearly I am a hip hipster of hipsterdom. I do roll my eyes when kids are sent away to random strangers even though there are much better alternatives (although it would work for me if the kid was sent to a godmother/aunt/grandma who lived a little farther away). I think absent parents annoys me more than bad parents, because it just happens disproportionately often in YA, but I totally buy bad parents because to me a harmonious family life is the thing that seems more unrealistic haha – though I would like to read about functional families more, if only to have something to aspire to. 😀 I 1/5 buy the eating lunch in the bathroom thing because where I live lunch isn’t as organized – you can go home and eat it there, or if the school offers it (which it usually does, I think) eat it at school, or even just bring a piece of bread and eat that wherever, so you could totally go to the bathroom and eat it there. My school didn’t have a library, but I could see how it would be pretty impossible to just take a try of food inside and eat it there. As with listening to a lot of 90s/earlier music… maybe the authors don’t want to date the story? IDEK.

    • and by “piece of bread” I meant a sandwich, not a random piece of bread haha (unless you’re a duck, in which case no lunch shaming)

    • I will write down every one I find that pisses me off and do a Part 2, I promise! Also… you are in Europe, so I feel like you are allowed to have Kurt Cobain posters and it not be as weird. I have no idea why, either. Double standard, yes, but it works in your favor so it’s okay 😉

      And oh yeah, if it is an ACTUAL close relative who lives far away, I get it. But in some of these books it’s an actual legit stranger and I am so confused because is that even LEGAL!?

      I also think things in Europe work a bit differently in regards to lunch- at least, this is what I gathered from reading/traveling/reading about traveling. But here… well, everything is just a tad shittier in the US, Vlora. Everything is so… dumb. Like, teachers monitor your bathroom habits. And your eating habits. And like, leave us the eff alone, right? (Bashing my country because we’re like, a nanosecond away from having a shitty reality TV star as a president and I am salty?)

      Also, I legit wondered about the piece of bread. I also thought of duck, and also had second thoughts on my US bashing moment 😂

  35. Lol I used to have such a crush on Kurt Cobain, no lie. So weird of me. That recent “Kurt Cobain is my potentially my father” book freaked me out. hahah Ufh. The orphans sent to strangers?! Even though it IS rarely realistic, like, 99% of those people will send the babies to a police station and/or hospital.

    I never liked Cady. Even though I seriously am her. Ugggggghhh, the parents against poverty is seriously The Notebook. I’ve never read any of the Sparks’ novels thankfully, but I’ve seen a few movies. lolz. It sometimes is true tho. Movie/bookish parents need to take 899 seats.

    • Bwhahaha a crush is definitely not the same as “I want him to be my daddy”. EW I am so appalled on so many levels 😂

      OMG YES, you are SO RIGHT about The Notebook! GOOD CALL. Because yes! That movie IS that trope (and well, the book too I assume hahah).

  36. this is funny. I’d say the only one I disagree with is the lunch in the bathroom one because at my high school you didnt HAVE to stay in the cafeteria to eat lunch and I was a loner so I literally ate my lunch in any private area I could. Sometimes it was in a classroom, in the library, in the art room, or in the back of a building (yep, I was that loner). Never the bathroom, bcs thats gross, but I could have.

    • Aw thanks! Also, I feel like this whole lunch thing varies VERY wildly by school. My school was like… crazy strict about stuff like that, I guess. But I am glad you did not choose to eat in the bathroom, because ew. That is part of it too- like, if they COULD eat anywhere, why, of all places, choose the toilet!?

  37. Shannon…you….it’s….Nirvana…I….SHANNON. But yeah, I’ve mostly only seen it in contemps too.
    I’m sorry, I can’t comment on Orphans Sent To Strangers because I’m too busy laughing.
    HAHA OMG. YES. WHY WOULD YOU EAT IN THE BATHROOM? I DON’T GET IT . Though, my school would pretty much let us eat anywhere to be honest, as long as it wasn’t in the corridors or by the stairs…because you know, THAT would be weird.
    Oh, poor shaming is definitely a thing. I think I’ve read one ages ago (can’t remember the name) where the parents liked the rich asshole ex-boyfriend more than the possible nice (but poor) love interest.
    Oh man, I think the I Never Noticed Him/Her Like That is one of the reason I kind of despised Never Always Sometimes (though I did like the unexpected ending). I think it works more with characters/friends getting to know each other on a different level, then them starting to notice them on a different level, if that makes sense (is that what Game On does? I haven’t read it).
    Okay, I don’t think this is a trope at all, but things that annoy me in mysteries/thrillers/psych thrillers, is using the amnesia as a way of making the narrator unreliable. I don’t mind it, just think it’s used too much when there are other ways of making the MC unreliable… like making them a pathological liar, and using their narrator as What They are Telling You Vs The Truth, etc. Though I guess there aren’t a lot of ways to do that, haha.

    • Bwhahah SORRY! I mean… look, I get that people in the 90s loved them. I even understand that SOME people now would- if they are into music and such. But some teenaged girl just randomly being into them for no reason? I just… I don’t get it!

      My school would definitely ONLY let us eat in the cafeteria- but I do know that some schools are probably more relaxed, but the bathroom? Really?

      YESSS I think you are spot on with the getting to know them on a different level! That IS how it is in Game On- but they also don’t pretend that they like, never noticed that they were male and female neighbors, you know?

      Dude, the amnesia thing is DEFINITELY a trope, and a shitty one at that. It’s too convenient- and amnesia is so freaking RARE that the chance of all of these people having legitimate full-blown amnesia is kind of ridiculously small. Like, it DOES work in a few cases… but not many. It’s too… soap opera-y 😂

  38. Okay, I haven’t even thought about some of these but you are so right. One that I really agree with you about is the whole eating lunch in the bathroom thing. WHO DOES THAT?? Sorry, but I have never done that and I have never known anyone who had. I get eating lunch in your car or outside or even in the library. But the bathroom? Psssh. And if their are parents who are against someone just because of their socioeconomic class, I feel like that is just the author trying to create an obstacle to the relationship where there is none. I just read a book like that and it freaking drove me crazy. It was so unnecessary!! Great post!

    • BWHAHA right!? I mean, I get being sad and lonely, but the BATHROOM!? And yes, you are totally right, it is done for the whole dramatic effect, and it NEVER works, because no one is going to buy that! I really want to know if we read the same book- because it is us, we could have very easily both been bothered by the same trope in the same book! 😂

  39. Oh, Shannon! You made me LMAO at the Nirvana effect! I’m actually one of those who like some of the Nirvana songs and yes, they were really big in the early 90s, bringing grunge to the mainstream (oh god, did I just type that?! XD) Anyway, I was too young then to even KNOW about them… probably 8 or 9ish, but I went through an emo phase in my teens so I discovered them post KC’s death. Oh, the angst! I’ve only ever read one book featuring them, which you mentioned: Save Me, Kurt Cobain.

    The Bathroom Lunch is just YUCK! I’ve never even…! I also saw Mean Girls pre-move to America and I also didn’t go to school here, so I thought it was a thing? Like you can leave the cafeteria and eat wherever? Including the bathroom?

    I do understand the “Parents Against Poverty” trope, and it’s one of my favorite tropes. This only works in the historical genre, IMO. Only because socioeconomic classes were really strict, back then. I read a lot of historical romances, and those are mostly set in England pre-1900s and class was a very big issue back then. Other than that, I don’t see how it works in the modern society. I can’t comment on contemporaries because I hardly read them. Unfortunately, I see this a lot in real life. sigh* And it’s 2016!

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