Rookie On Love

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Kelly Ritenour, Clubs and Activities Editor

This past January, the group behind the online teen publication Rookie Magazine published their newest book: a collection of work from readers, staff, and celebrities all centered on the theme of love. Rookie Magazine is a website that was founded by Tavi Gevinson when she was fifteen years old. Teens can submit personal stories, interviews, poetry, art, and photography.

“I founded it (Rookie) in 2011, when I was a sophomore in high school, because I couldn’t find a teen magazine that respected its readers’ intelligence and had actual teens writing for it,” explains Gevinson during her intro in Rookie On Love. Rookie Magazine has published books before, but these previous works take on a totally different format from Rookie On Love. The magazine’s first print publication was Rookie Yearbook One, a large collection of the site’s best work from their first year. It was published in 2012, and the yearbook became a yearly tradition. Since the site is geared toward high schoolers, the yearbooks went on for the next four years, concluding in 2015 with Rookie Yearbook Four for senior year.

Rookie On Love is different from the yearbooks, however, because the pieces are not taken from the site. “We wanted to keep going, and we wanted to commission and publish new work that wouldn’t live anywhere else, not even on the internet. We wanted to focus on a singe subject, rather than a period of time,” explained Gevinson.

The book covers various topics concerning love: from romantic love, to family love, to self-love. Each individual entry is by a different writer with a different experience worth sharing. Some stories deal with how to navigate your emotions, what love truly feels like (and what it shouldn’t), and how to prioritize yourself and cope with breakups.

A specific chapter that stuck out to me was “Beyond Self Respect.” It talked about how women are told they need to “respect themselves” and work through all of their emotional issues before entering into a relationship, but nobody tells a man to do the same in his relationships. “For teenage girls, the burden of respect is assumed to be theirs and theirs alone. They’re told it’s the number-one thing they must do for themselves if they want to be loved, but why do girls have to respect themselves before they are accorded any?” Writes Jenny Zhang, an American writer and poet, in her chapter. In many situations, it is expected that the woman in a relationship with a man “fixes” him and heals his past heartbreak, enforcing the standard that men are allowed to carry all their unchecked baggage into a relationship and the woman involved is meant to be responsible for it. This is a trope enforced and perpetuated by pop culture and common romantic movies these days. “I don’t have time for this. I can’t be with someone who is afraid to know themselves. I don’t have time to teach another guy how to be unrepressed,” Zhang writes.”If someone wants to be with me, they have to earn my respect and honor my expectations and requirements for respect.”

The books’ many perspectives on love and relationships truly show their young audience that there isn’t one correct way to love or experience a relationship, thereby stripping away all the falsities teens have been force-fed about love by society and pop culture. It also teaches its readers that one heartbreak is not the end-all-be-all for relationships, and inspires a sense of hope to get through the rough patches of love.

Rookie On Love teaches valuable lessons in an artistic and in-depth manner, with respect for the intelligence of its audience, just as Gevinson intended when she began Rookie. I have never read another book that has presented such an amazing and authentically real stance on love. Rookie On Love is certainly one of a kind, and will hopefully pave the path for a less idealized representation of love within the media and literary world.