Recently I had a fan ask me about happy endings. (I just wanted to re-read that sentence to myself a few times: I have a fan! *SQUEE!*) Ahem. Anyway, the point was that she wanted to know if a) I thought my book had a "happy ending" or not and b) would Consuela and V eventually get their "happy ending" or not? I had to think about that. While I wrote LUMINOUS to stand alone, I'll admit it was envisioned as the first part of a three-part series, a series that I doubt will ever see the light of day through a B&N window. But although I knew how it all ends, would I consider it a happy ending?
I had to put my thinking cap on for that one. Hm.
Well, it depends. Do I think Consuela and V would get on a white horse and go galloping off into the sunset together? Answer: no. That's pretty easy since a) there are no horses in the Flow, b) I doubt either Consuela or V would know how to ride one, and c) life really doesn't work like that and neither do I. (Don't believe me? Re-read the actual ending of The Princess Bride by William Goldman and see what I mean.) And then it struck me that what's better than "happy endings" are "satisfying endings" and then I would say, yes, I see my story as having a very satisfying ending. In fact, I hope they all do.
I would rather feel satisfied than blissful after reaching the end of a really good book.
What do these gals have in common? Sa-tis-fac-tion!
I thought about a lot of stories that are like that, too. Does The Giving Tree have a happy ending? Did the Gemma Doyle trilogy have a happy ending? Did The Crying Game have a happy ending? Did Buffy have a happy ending? Yes, but not exactly. I would argue that in the realm of greater good or in the larger scope of overall love and happiness that, yes, these characters walked away both bittersweet and (for the most part) happy, but I wouldn't call them "happy endings". However, I would say that they are all incredibly satisfying ones. All the messy ends were tied up, all the emotional upheavals given their due, the characters--from major to minor--were addressed and we knew what had happened to them (even if it made us sad), and the place where the main characters found themselves in the end was, in many ways, one of hope.
Hope is one of the strongest things that holds up a good story and throughout all the gritty, edgy urban-fantasy-ness of what people are concerned about in the black/white/red YA section of reality, the heart that still beats there is one of abiding hope and faith in the good things: love, friendship, and a better day. It's what propels the generations on the ship, Godspeed, it's what allows for sacrifice on Elegy Beach, and it's what lets us let go of Sam and Grace as they fade into Forever. Are these happy endings? Some are. Some aren't. Most don't feel much like "endings" at all, and that (to me) is the best ending of all & the one that I strive to create.
At least, I hope so!