A chance encounter in a Rome hotel, two tremendously damaging photographs, and Hilton Joliet’s life is instantly altered. Previously working a dead-end job as an assistant in a portrait studio, she is now a freelance photographer for Game Set Match magazine, “the Us Weekly of tennis,” as she calls it.
Thrown rapidly into a jet-setting life of world-class tennis, the best seats at the best matches, and trailing the hottest young tennis stars and their model and actress girlfriends, Hilton, a former tennis player herself, can’t imagine a more fun job or a better way to jump-start her career while her boyfriend Luke finishes law school.
As Hilton spends more and more time away from home, grows closer and closer to Tanner Bruin—the world-ranked No. 3 player on whom she’s always had a huge crush—and becomes more and more hated by Aubrey Gage—the actress girlfriend of world-ranked No. 6 player Haidin Bayliss—Luke keeps a secret from her that could drastically change their six-year relationship.
It is through Hilton’s discovery of that secret, her love for the tennis tour, and her front-row glimpse into its most high-profile relationships that she starts to see how love doesn’t always mean near as much as she thought it did.
Living in a Postcard by Daisy Jordan
Love means zero. In tennis, it’s a hard fact, one of the rules of the game. But what about in real life? Most of us probably hope love means something. I know I’ve always wanted to fall in love and have it mean something, if not everything. When I was a little girl and even a high schooler, I absolutely wanted it to mean everything, and I believed it would.
And sometimes love does mean everything. Sometimes it can be the only thing that pulls a couple through a really difficult situation. But other times, it appears to mean nothing. This is what Hilton, the main character in my novel Love Means Zero, begins to discover as she watches relationships fall apart around her. Hilton works as a photographer for tennis magazine Game Set Match, and the more time she spends on the tennis tour, the more it seems the value of love in tennis has carried over into the players’ relationships and breakups. In one case, both members of the couple say they really love each other, but things just aren’t working out, and neither of them tries to fix it. This baffles Hilton, who has never considered not trying to fix her own relationship with the guy she sees as the love of her life. But then she starts to wonder if love can sometimes mean too much…do people sometimes hold on to a relationship because of their love for each other, even though that relationship might not be the best thing for either of them anymore?
In my own experience, love can range from one of these extremes to the other. One of the worst-case scenarios is when it means everything to one person and nothing to the other person. But even in a situation like that, it doesn’t completely mean nothing, because it means something to one of the people. It couldn’t really even be love if it didn’t have any meaning to either of the people involved. So the real question becomes…when it is love, will it be enough to save a relationship faced by serious obstacles, whatever they may be?
The answer, I find, is different for every person and every couple. Hilton and her best friend Jill talk in the book about “living in a postcard,” or finding the scenario they would die for. For Jill, that is being with her boyfriend Todd. She’s been in love with him for over ten years, and in her eyes, no other guy even comes close to comparing. He has always been her fantasy, and being with him has always been her biggest dream, the thing she’s known would make her feel fulfilled. Hilton thought she had everything she wanted with her own boyfriend Luke, but after getting a taste of another life and then going back to her old one, she realizes she isn’t fulfilled anymore. For her, that “postcard” has changed, and it has come to include travelling, being part of the tennis tour, and taking gorgeous photographs of exotic locations. While her love for Luke still means a lot to her, it doesn’t mean everything.
Hilton eventually comes face-to-face with a question many people are faced with every day—is love worth it? My personal answer to this is of course it is; there’s nothing like the feeling of being absolutely, head-over-heels in love and sharing that feeling with somebody who loves you back just as much. But it is worth keeping, or fighting for?
If it’s part of my “postcard,” then without a doubt it is. If I close my eyes and see being with that person as the scenario I would die for, why wouldn’t I fight to keep it? But if I close my eyes and see something else in my postcard of my dream life, then no, it’s not worth fighting for. Then it becomes one of those situations where love means too much and I’m fighting to keep something that isn’t going to make me the happiest I could be in the end. The most important thing to me is to live in that postcard.
So, does love mean zero in real life? No, I don’t think it ever does. It always means something; it’s always significant. It just might not always mean more than everything else, and its meaning in a relationship can change as the two people change.
Bottom line? When you close your eyes and picture a snapshot of your dream life, what’s there? That’s what’s worth fighting for.
Daisy Jordan is an obsessive tennis fan and wrote Love Means Zero so she could live out her dream-job fantasy through Hilton. Before deciding to write a book about the tennis tour, she wrote six other books, including Everything Happens for a Reason…, the Spin the Bottle series, and All That Sparkles Isn’t Real Sapphire. Even before that, she grew up in Indiana watching tennis all summer every summer on TV, and even attended a few pro tournaments. She now lives in Denver and religiously fills out brackets for every Grand Slam with her brother Josh.