Katniss, Peeta, and Gale. Bella, Edward, and Jacob. These are two well-known examples of the famous love triangle trope in Young Adult (YA) literature. It is hard to pick up a YA book these days that doesn’t contain a love triangle and the genre gets a lot of flack for it.
Many readers claim love triangles are sexist and diminish the value of female protagonists as individuals. The triangles most often center around a girl choosing between two guys in order to be happy. Others argue they make the plot interesting, add drama, and make it fun to pick sides and route for a certain coupling outcome. Most people are very vocal about their opinions on the love triangle.
I, personally, do not have a strong opinion—I just think the plot of it needs to be well-written and not too clichéd in order for me to enjoy the story. I understand the hatred towards love triangles because they often trivialize the other things going on in the protagonist’s life and can be frustratingly predictable.
In Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles, a group of 16 authors set out to challenge the stereotypes and misguided expectations of the much-debated love triangle trope.
It’s a YA anthology of short stories edited by Natalie C. Parker and it is incredible to read. Each story involves some sort of love triangle, but often they take some form that you might not expect.
The anthology does a good job of covering different genres and different types of relationships—siblings, best friends, old friends, and frenemies. I don’t usually read fantasy or dystopian YA, but I thoroughly enjoyed some those genres in Three Sides of a Heart.
I became enamored with all the characters immediately. The diversity is great—the first story is about a girl in love with her brother’s best friend and presumed soulmate (a girl). There are several other queer love triangles throughout the anthology as well—which never feel clichéd or too predictable—and people of color are featured often.
Overall, Three Sides of a Heart has a variety of stories that appeal to many different readers. It does a great job of expanding the types of stories most readers read. Normally, I stick to browsing the realistic YA section in bookstores and rarely venture into the fantasy section. But this book forced me out of my comfort zone in the best possible way and I read some fantastic stories. (And I now have some cool new authors to check out.)
I understand why love triangles can be frustrating plot-devices to many, but I believe the authors of this anthology did a good job of proving their value. We don’t get anthologies like this very often (the only others I know of are My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories and Summer Days and Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, which are both edited by Stephanie Perkins). Sometimes I’m in the mood to read something short and all in one sitting, so short story anthologies are perfect.