My Book Bub feed has been full of blurbs that start out “When Betty is forced to return to the small town where she grew up . . . ” and it makes me wonder: What’s the lure of this story trope? I’m not criticizing it, I’m just puzzled as to why it’s so powerful that it’s become a sub-genre.
Full-disclosure: I grew up in a small town and if I never see it again, that’s okay. I thought that said more about my childhood than it did about the town until my best friend from high school who had lived all over the world got married and moved back home. At one point, I mentioned to her that my parents wanted me to move back. “Are you insane?” she said. “NO, NO, NO.” So maybe it’s not just me. One factor: we’re both flaming liberals and the town is probably Trump Country; I don’t know for sure because my only connection to the town at this point is my brother, and I love him a lot, and he loves me, so we never talk politics. Ever.
So here’s my question: Why is the going-home-again trope so hot in romance? Is it a generalized reunion fantasy where you go back and show everybody how cool you’ve become? Is it akin to the old-boyfriend story it’s often linked with? Is it nostalgia for a simpler life in small towns (which is a complete crock; living in a city is INFINITELY simpler than living in a small town)? Is it a romanticized version of the small town that leaves out the gossip, the social pressure to conform, the warring factions, the lack of choices, and the incredible insularity? I’m clueless on this one. What do you think?