Eat Pray Love: Book Better Than the Movie

I finally saw the movie version of Eat Pray Love on DVD this past weekend. I didn’t have high expectations since I never do of book-turned-movies. The movie was interesting enough to the average movie goer, but for someone who read the book and really connected with Elizabeth Gilbert‘s quirky, gabby, witty, thoughtful, evocative voice, I felt something seriously lacking.

Sure, the visuals were nice. India, Indonesia and Italy are beautiful landscapes so that was enjoyable to see. James Franco and Javier Bardem didn’t hurt either:)

Julia Roberts did her best to carry the story but I felt like the plot overtook her character, whereas in the book, “Liz” controlled the story and took the reader on this marvelous, introspective journey that captivated me. The movie lagged a lot and it was only because I was already a fan of the book that I stuck it through to see what happened. The background of Liz’s life and relationships were woven in at times during the movie but they still didn’t capture my emotions enough. It all started so quickly with her saying “I don’t want to be married anymore” and then whisked off to the divorce lawyers and her new boyfriend and traveling plans.

And where was the scene when she and her best friend are in the car driving and adding mental signatures of all the great people in the world for her divorce petition?? That was one of my favorite parts! Anyone with me?

Richard from Texas was perfect, but I wanted him in there more. I felt he hadn’t finished serving his purpose in the film, though he did make me tear up when he told Liz about his wife and son. His platitudes were great, but I noticed Liz’s dislike for the nickname “Groceries” was never brought up…

I know movie adaptations can’t be perfect, but I think there are certain books that can’t be made into movies very effectively. Wordy memoirs like Eat Pray Love are one of them. The fact that all I could picture while I was reading it was Liz sitting across from me talking proved that this wasn’t a cinematic story.

I know lots of people criticize Eat Pray Love is a superficial, narcissistic chick lit book about a frivolous middle-class woman with little problems. The movie kind of left me with that attitude, because you barely saw any conflict in Liz’s life.  If you read the book, then you’ll know that’s far from the truth. The book touched me as a 17 -year-old high school student as Gilbert talked about desires for spirituality, loneliness, love, searching for purpose in life, happiness, courage over fears… I could go on and on about how much I related to it.

Maybe it’s a writer thing to be that cerebral and worried about everything little thing and want more in life, but it was a surprisingly interesting, quick read for me that left me pondering the kind of journey that I would want to take to address my personal needs. I’m certainly not old enough to be a memoir, but it definitely inspired me to give myself more chances to write personal essays and poetry rather than fiction. I think that if I’m afraid to talk about reality, then how can I justly immerse myself in fantasy? There are so many beautiful, haunting things to talk about in life that could help others going through the same experiences with just a few elegantly collected words.

Anyways, maybe a documentary like film would have worked better for Eat Pray Love. I don’t know. I think I will only be revisiting the story in book form, because that’s where it truly came alive to me.


Feminist Characters in YA novels

Photo credit:michal_hadassah

I read a really cool article in Ms. Magazine called “Kick Ass Girls and Feminist Boys” by Jessica Stites, which talked about the numerous heroes and heroines that eschew gender norms and stereotypes throughout the history of young adult literature.

From fantasy to realistic fiction to war stories, girls are appearing in unconventional roles saving the day, standing up for human rights and breaking taboos that we might think are totally normal.

Here are some of Ms. Magazine’s YA picks featuring kick-ass girls and feminist boys:

  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • Dealing with Dragons by  Patricia C. Wrede
  • The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor

How many of these have you read and what other books do you find represent strong  female characters or awesome characters that just defy expectations?

Some of my picks would be Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, Nancy Drew from the Nancy Drew series, Sammy Keyes from Sammy Keyes Mysteries, Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games, Charlotte Doyle from The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Finnula Crais from Ransom My Heart and Gemma Doyle from A Great and Terrible Beauty.

You’d think it would be easy enough to make your female character smart and sassy, not weak and mousy, but sometimes you can go too far and make the characters unbelievable and too perfect. It’s all about balance and giving them flaws that humanize them but don’t belittle literary heroines just for being girls.

Here are two great posts that talk about the wrong way of writing a strong female characters by T.S. Bazelli and Overthinking It.

And here’s an awesome flowchart to compare your story’s rocking female character to other famous ones!

Vlog Interview: YA and Middle Grade Book Trends

Every writer wants their book to become the next big thing, right? How do you go about doing that? Well, children’s fiction is a pesky wave and sometimes you get lucky and ride it to the top; other times, you get lost under the water. If you’re trying to write for an age group you don’t relate with, it can be hard to figure out what those readers want to see.

Check out my awesome interview with Brandi Stewart, children’s book buyer for the indie bookstore, Changing Hands, in Tempe, Arizona.  She helps breakdown what the current trends and popular books out in the YA and middle grade world, while also recommending what writers should stay away from and what they should look into for new story ideas.

Now I don’t necessarily believe in writing for trends, because a good story should be a good story whenever it comes out. By the time you get your book out on whatever hot topic is turning pages, it’ll be done and over with and not worth anyone’s time. But it’s smart to know what interests kids and learn what commonalities hit books have as well as discover new ways to bring up old subjects.

I like to think about what I used to like reading when I was younger and see the parallel books out now in stores. Some of my favorites were the Magic Tree House series (still going strong), American Girl series, Mary Kate and Ashley mysteries, The Magic Attic, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, Harry Potter, the Boxcar Children and Captain Underpants. Currently, I can see elements of those books in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Percy Jackson series, the 39 Clues, the Hunger Games, Nerds, Theodore Boone:Kid Lawyer, and Pretty Little Liars.

I have a lot more footage of great YA and middle grade books that Brandi recommends for readers, but there was just too much to fit in with this video so I’ll be putting that together in another one for my next post.  Oh and if you’re interested in the book clubs for kids and teens that Changing Hands has that help discover the latest and greatest books in children’s fiction, there’s Club Read and BIT:Before It’s Trendy. There will be more on that in the next video as well. Don’t miss out!