XO, OX: A Love Story: 05/04/17
XO, OX: A Love Story by Adam Rex and Scott Campbell (illustrator) is told through a series of letters between Ox, a fan, and Gazelle, a performer.
I'm pausing briefly for Shakira's performance from Zootopia because that's the one good thing to come of this book — putting a song that I like into my head.
Gazelle, busy professional that she is, can't possibly write a personalized letter in response to every piece of fan mail she receives. So Ox is sent a standard letter and one of her publicity stills.
Ox, though, can't take a form letter. He writes back and receives another form letter. That should be the end of things. But Ox is so damn fixated on her that he continues to write. In response he gets a polite but stern letter telling him to stop writing.
But he doesn't. No. He keeps writing and she keeps responding, until at the very end, we see that Gazelle has succumbed to his "charms" and is vaguely smiling while writing "Dear Ox."
Excuse me while I barf. What a terrible, terrible, awful, horrible disservice to child this book is. It's saying, if you are a boy fixated on someone, it's perfectly ok to harass that person until they come around to your way of seeing things.
If you're a girl and you're getting unwanted attention, you should just give your stalker enough time to make his case. He's probably perfectly charming under all that obsessive behavior. He probably really likes you. Screw your own personal comfort and sense of well being — just accept his attention and be happy!
Think I'm over reacting? I'm not. I'm talking from personal experience (not being stalked, thank goodness) but from watching a relative obsess over a celebrity — writing letter after letter and believing that she was in love with him even though he was just one more name on a letter among countless others in her fan mail. The only thing that kept him from doing more than writing letters and building his shrine to her was his own health issues and lack of money. He wasn't well enough to travel and probably couldn't afford the bus ticket from San Diego to Los Angeles. Thank goodness that circumstances kept him away so that he couldn't do something worse.
So how exactly is a story about an obsessed fan — even one with a cute palindrome title — a good idea for a picture book? The title could have led to any other form of epistolary tale. They could have been long distance boyfriend and girlfriend (legitimately, not obsessed fan / performer). They could have been a Romeo and Juliette type couple — kept apart for family reasons.
Stalking and obsession do not make for romantic or funny stories!