Archive for July, 2014

My YA Binge, Plus Two Great Movies

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Until about a month ago, I had never heard of John Green. Then suddenly he was everywhere in my particular media niche: In The New Yorker, on NPR, in my Facebook feed. In other words, tipping point—everywhere and all at once.

I took the hint and read The Fault in Our Stars, followed by An Abundance of Katherines and Looking for Alaska. That’s in reverse order of how he wrote them, and it’s plenty evident: Fault is by far the most accomplished (the deepest, the most realized) and was by far my favorite. A spell was cast, and I was bound. Heartbreaking, of course—and also electrifying in its willingness to spend unflinching time with dying teenagers, never stooping to pretend that they aren’t dying.

I do take a certain amount of issue with Green’s pretensions, which arise in the form of references to certain authors or literary works or philosophies, etc. I don’t mind that kind of content, per se, but I wish he’d bring it in a little more subtly, or organically . . . something. It feels so very instructional. But maybe not to teens?

Now I’m reading Rainbow Rowell‘s latest book, which is, at least 60% in, my least favorite of her books so far. Ah, well. Can’t every book be the best book.


In movie news, Short Term 12 is the very most emotionally devastating (in the best possible sense) thing I’ve seen in forever. And it’s streaming on Netflix! Gorgeously tight writing, beautiful acting. rivetingly wise. Just, if you’re going to watch it, don’t already be in a hard place with your feelings. You’ll need a little fortitude to get through it. And maybe have a buddy. And also some tissues. And then just let your heart break forever and ever. Oh, and this’ll help you get through it: happy ending. Mostly.

And finally, Obvious Child! Hilarious, smart, and totally singular voice. A comedy about abortion (and romance, and career, and art, and being a young adult) that is truly funny and truly wrenching. Also known as the film version of Jenny Slate! Of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On fame! Now I love her even more and hope that she makes a million movies, all of them as good as this one. Or at least five. Can she make five more movies? Jenny?

(ETA: I did wonder whether the film accurately represented the full spectrum of options re: abortion—i.e., why no mention of the medical vs. surgical procedure?—and here’s more on that.)