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  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2016/09/06 Permalink
    Tags: , gayle forman, leave me, ,   

    A Woman’s Escape to Find Herself in Leave Me By Gayle Forman 

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    We’ve all thought about it, one time or another: the great “What If?” What if we packed our bags and took the next train to Anywhere But Here? What if we could leave our troubles behind us and make new friends, find new loves, and hope that these new relationships would erase the pain of our old ones—or at the very least, give us perspective on them? What if a brush with death forced us to hit “Do-Over” on our lives and become someone new?

    Gayle Forman’s first foray into adult literature examines these questions with the same ease of prose and depth of character that I had come to love in her young adult fiction; the difference for me was that here, she was writing about an experience I have not yet had—that of being a mother—whereas in her previous novels If I Stay, Where She Went, Just One Day and more, I felt a kinship to her characters on a molecular, primal level, being a “young adult” myself. But now, as childhood is firmly behind me and my own marriage approaches—Leave Me read almost like a premonition.

    Maribeth Klein is your typical overworked New York City mother. In her mid-forties, life is a juggling act; between micro-managing her twins’ schedules, picking up after her (also typical) disengaged husband, and trying to succeed at the magazine where her best friend is also her boss, Maribeth has let one big thing fall through the cracks—her health. She suffers a heart attack, and like many women, does not acknowledge the signs or symptoms; she simply pushes through, because that is what the modern woman has been taught to do. That is, until she has emergency bypass surgery, forcing her and her husband to reconcile the fact that their lives, as they have been living them, are over.

    Forman’s stinging portrayal of Maribeth’s recovery process had me cringing with sympathy for her: her husband lets the housework pile up, refusing to take responsibility while she is sick, instead calling in Maribeth’s own mother as reinforcement. Leave Me’s real strength is in the development of its characters, and the web Forman weaves is complex and riveting, as each relationship thread is pulled taut. Maribeth’s tension with her mother for judging her city lifestyle; her concern for her children over what would happen to them if she died; her fear that she isn’t capable of being a good mother because she was adopted; her envy of her best friend, who married her way into an upper-upper class lifestyle; and her rage towards her husband for insisting that soon, “things will go back to normal”, because the last thing Maribeth could ever want is a return to the life she had before.

    So, she snaps, in an act of wish-fulfillment of mothers everywhere; she writes a note, withdraws some cash, and flees. But of course, Maribeth finds out quite quickly, once she has the space to breathe and recover properly, that her recovery extends far beyond the physical, and far beyond this one heart attack. Her heart was broken before, and it is those wounds that truly need healing before she can return to her old life—if she can return to her old life.

    Forman’s cast of supporting characters serve to do more than provide Maribeth with banter on her sojourn; rather, they directly impact into her character’s arc, forcing her to truly deal with the pain she has been pushing off for years. Her new cardiologist, Dr. Grant, is either a shifty crook, or a kind gentleman atoning for his own sins of the past. Maribeth seeks out an adoption counselor to help her find her birth mother, under the guise of needing to know if there’s a medical history of heart problems—but really wanting to know if there is any shared history between them, as two mothers who each left their children.

    But that’s the thing about motherhood: no matter how far away from your children you are, or how distant from them you feel, you are always a mother—at least, I imagine this is the case, because this is how I feel as a daughter. Maribeth did not simply abandon her children; the novel is interspersed with letters to them that she never sends, conversations that she wishes they were old enough to have with her, memories of moments she hopes they will never forget. She was merely doing what they tell you to do in airplanes: put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping someone else. Women forget this every day: that to be a better friend, partner, daughter, or mother, we must first take care of ourselves. If we don’t think we are deserving of love, then how can anyone truly love us the way we want to be loved? What kind of examples do we give our children, if they see us sacrificing our marriages and health supposedly for their sake?

    Hopefully, then, Leave Me is not a premonition for my future life but rather a flashing yellow light urging us to yield: yield to our flaws as human beings, as women. Yield to the fact that life will not always be perfect, or even in order, at any given moment. Yield to the truth that marriage—and one day, maybe motherhood—will be everything and nothing like I thought they would. Yield to the notion that I cannot be the best daughter, friend, employee, and wife all at once; that some days, it is enough to just be the best me, for me.

    Whether Maribeth reunites with her family I will leave unspoiled, along with the even more important question of whether by the end of Leave Me she reunites with herself: the person she was before, the person she wants to be, and the flawed, broken, but hopeful person she is now.

    Leave Me is in stores now. 

  • Jenny Kawecki 7:33 pm on 2015/04/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , gayle forman, , just one day, , , , , ,   

    This Week in Page to Screen: Fifty Shades, the Little Prince, and a Whole Lot of YA 

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    You’ve probably heard by now that director Sam Taylor-Wood and screenwriter Kelly Marcel jumped ship after the release of the first Fifty Shades installment, leading to much speculation that there might not be an adaption of the second and third books. But not to worry, fans, because the franchise has already acquired a new writer for Fifty Shades Darker: Niall Leonard, E.L. James’ husband. Meanwhile, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are looking for a pay raise before getting back on board.

    Fifty Shades isn’t the only book-to-film adaptation with a new screenwriter: Universal just hired a screenwriting team for Gayle Forman’s Just One DayIsaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, the screenwriting duo who recently adapted Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler’s The Future of Us, will be handling the project, Forman’s second novel-turned-movie. Just One Day (and it’s accompanying novel, Just One Year) follows the changes that one romantic, adventurous, inspiring day in Paris can bring (especially when said day is spent with a handsome actor named Willem).

    In other YA news, film rights to Kiera Cass’s The Selection have been bought by Warner Bros., which hired Katie Lovejoy to adapt the novel (Lovejoy is the scriptwriting genius behind Black List). The Selection, the first book in Cass’s series, is about America Singer, a regular girl who’s thrown into a competition to marry her prince—despite the fact that she’s in love with someone else. Meanwhile, the fourth book in The Selection series, The Heir, is coming out May 5.

    With the release of Insurgent, the second film in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, rumors about the upcoming Allegiant movies (the final book is getting split into two parts) are circling. While it has yet to be confirmed, all signs point to Aaron Eckhart playing David, Tris’s nemesis in the third and fourth films. In response to fans’ concern that the final films are going to stray from the book’s bittersweet ending, Theo James would like to assure everyone there’s no need to worry—even though Insurgent wandered away from the source material, Allegiant is sticking pretty close to the plot.

    Blake Crouch, however, has no such expectations about the television adaptation of his Wayward Pines books.  The series follows Ethan Burke, a secret service agent on a mission to locate two fellow agents who seem to have gotten lost in a small Idaho town. It was recently transformed into a TV show by M. Night Shyamalan (which Crouch says is “a dream come true”), but Crouch readily admits he hopes the show won’t stick too closely to his novels. Wayward Pines premieres on Fox on May 14.

    And finally, in case you haven’t had enough feelings today, do yourself a favor and watch the second trailer for The Little Prince movie. If you, like me, were a bit skeptical about the computer-animated adaptation of this beautiful classic, there’s a 98% chance this trailer will change your mind. The story-within-a-story setup looks promising, and the animation style is absolutely enchanting—and no, I’m definitely not crying at all. The movie will be premiering at Cannes this May before widespread release in July.

    What page-to-screen adaptations are you excited about?

  • Melissa Albert 5:30 pm on 2014/09/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , gayle forman, huntley fitzpatrick, , , , john corey whaley, , my life next door, , noggin, , , ,   

    What to Read Next if You Loved If I Stay 

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    If I Stay recommended reads

    You cried when you read the book, you cried double when you saw the movie, and now you’re all cried out and in need of a seriously good follow-up read (and a glass of water). Gayle Forman’s elegiac heartbreaker If I Stay finds teenaged Mia on the precipice between death and life, after the rest of her family has been killed in the car crash that left her in a coma. Now she must choose: oblivion, or all the sorrows and joys of staying in her life on earth—and choosing life comes with the added sweetness of a boy, a dreamy rocker named Adam who is the yin to Mia’s classically trained cellist yang. After you’ve read and loved it, here’s what to try next:

    If you need more Mia and Adam like you need air…read Where She Went
    At the end of If I Stay, (highlight white area to show spoiler) Mia chooses life, rededicating herself to her art. In follow-up Where She Went, she and Adam reunite in New York City three years later, where Mia’s Juilliard successes are shadowed by her painful past, and now-successful rocker Adam’s still not over the girl who was his muse. This is a cathartic after love story, that may or may not end in a new beginning for two relatably imperfect characters.

    If you loved the opposites attract love story…read The Raven Cycle
    It’s disdain at first sight when Blue meets Gansey, a polished future president type who comes swaggering into the restaurant where she works and pisses her off posthaste. Blue is prickly and hotheaded, the daughter of an unconventional psychic mother who raises her among an extended family of clairvoyant women in a house that doubles as their workplace. But the things is, she’s seen Gansey before, in a vision that leads her to believe against all odds that he’s meant to be her first love, and over the course of two books (The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves), they warily circle each other and try to deny their growing attraction. We’re fangirling hard for the release of trilogy ender Blue Lily, Lily Blue, out October 21.

    If you want another meditation on life and death…read Falling Into Place
    Zowie. Falling Into Place takes bullying and grief and best friendship and parent-child relations and the struggle to be cool and how far people go to fit in and suicide and loss and redemption and SHAKES IT ALL UP LIKE A SNOW GLOBE, giving us a gorgeous, breathlessly written story about the day queen bee high schooler Liz Emerson decides to die, and all the days that lead up to it and come after, and all the lives she touched for better or worse. Read it and weep.

    If you’re looking for another tearjerker…read Noggin
    This book about a dying boy whose head is removed from his body, cryogenically frozen, then sutured to a donor body five years later extends far beyond the boundaries of speculative fiction. It’s about what it’s like to drop out of your life for five years, and come back feeling exactly the same—only to find that the world has moved on without you. It’s about the secrets people keep, out of fear or love, about the kind of relationships that can overcome age difference and near-death, and the disorienting blend of compassion and selfishness that true love inspires. Argh, read it! You’ll cry your eyes out (I did).

    If you loved the window onto a wonderful family…read My Life Next Door
    Dissatisfied with her own family—one older sister and a striving single mother—Samantha has long been fascinated by the big, messy, ebullient family next door: two parents, eight kids, and a bursting house that can barely contain them. Her chilly mother finds the riotous Garretts distasteful and forbids her children to mix with them, but Samantha can’t look away. And then one night, 17-year-old Jase Garrett catches her peeking. Just as her mother’s new boyfriend is making her home life unbearable, Samantha finds her escape in Jase. As the two fall for each other, you’ll fall for the wonderful Garretts—and have your heart wrung out by what Samantha and Jase have to face on their way to a happy ending.

    If you loved its artistic heroine…read I’ll Give You the Sun
    Jude is a teenaged sculptor whose work always fall apart in the kiln. It’s not her fault, it’s her mother’s unsettled ghost.  Three years after losing her mother in a car wreck, Jude and her once-close twin brother, Noah, are practically strangers, and her bold, brave self is whittled down almost to nothing. It takes the appearance of a boy as messed up as she is and a legendary artist with his own losses to mourn for Jude to find her way back to her brother, the memory of her mother, and herself. This beautiful book will make you feel lucky to be alive. If it also makes you feel like punching the air and running down the street hollering, just go with it.

    What YA cry-reads do you love?

  • Janet Manley 6:00 pm on 2014/08/22 Permalink
    Tags: , , gayle forman, , , , ,   

    Why You Must Pack All the Kleenex Before Seeing If I Stay in Theaters Tonight 

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    WE CAME, WE SAW, WE ALMOST DETACHED OUR TONSILS TRYING NOT TO CRY. For those of you who haven’t read Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, the film introduces us to Mia (Chloe Grace Moretz), a talented 17-year-old cellist from an Oregon family of punk rockers whose tidy world implodes when she meets Adam (Jamie Blackley), a self-assured musician who introduces a bit of chaos as they embark on their first adult relationship (“Life is a gigantic stinking mess, but that’s the beauty of it,” advises Mia’s mom, Kat, played by Mireille Enos). The clash of Mia’s East Coast Juilliard aspirations and “inconvenient” love for Adam becomes life-altering when Mia is involved in a fatal car crash with her family, and finds herself in a spiritual limbo, standing guard by her comatose body and tasked with deciding whether to stay or go.

    BOOK READERS: you are going to love this movie to pieces. EVERYONE ELSE: Read on, there are no spoilers in this review.

    Where The Fault in Our Stars focused on making the most of a small infinity with twinkly shared moments and grateful, shallow breaths, If I Stay shows us a teen relationship that is very, very realistic (if you’re lucky enough to have Jamie Blackley come strolling down the street declaring “I CHOOSE YOU!”). Mia is half ready to rip Adam’s shirt off and half terrified of being in a big-r-Relationship. As a couple, they have good moments (with a big gesture or two), and they have hissy fits; they worry about fitting in with each other’s friends, and they worry about how they fit with each other.

    And the parents in this film are so, so good. Kat and Denny (Joshua Leonard) are former punk rockers, and they’ve kept up real identities after becoming parents/YA book characters. Mia is keenly aware of the pragmatism it took them to quit touring and settle down with somewhat boring jobs so they can raise their kids and enjoy a life of Sunday potluck dinners and Adirondack chairs. Mia listens to her dad’s old albums, and shrinks back from the wild ACTUALLY VINTAGE wardrobe of her former-groupie-but-still-leopard-print-wearing mom. The advice they dispense to her is heavy with actual experience: “Either way you win. And either way you lose,” Kat tells Mia after a rough night with Adam, in a scene that shows these aren’t the kind of parents to shield their kids from the world, but rather give them the tools to handle it.

    It’s so important that the filmmakers got this right, because when we get to the*sad clapping of hard metal cutting into soft trees* you are aware of just how much Mia is losing with the deaths of her family members, but also the deliberate way her parents brought her up. Mia’s choices are all hers, even before the crash, and you know, in a sense, that her parents have finished “raising” her. This YA story gives full respect to its teens; there are no choosing ceremonies, no uniforms, just the burden of complete free choice and the gaping world beyond high school.

    This brings me to the MUSIC. It says a lot about Foreman’s writing chops that she could pull off a book that relies on music for some of its big plot points, and the way music is used in the film will just about annihilate you. Moretz shows us what it feels like for Mia to play the cello and connect to classical music (she trained for seven months on the cello), and she is more than matched by Blackley, who sings for Willamette Stone (a name change from the book), an up-and-coming Portland band whose biggest gig is to open for the Shins (another change). The moment where their different styles come together in the INCREDIBLE full-cast cover of the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Today,” really brings it all home. Chloe told us they tried several old punk songs for the jam session, but it’s inconceivable that they would have chosen anything but this song, which epitomizes the Pacific North West’s punk legacy, the ’90s (which define Mia’s parents), and those special, fleeting moments where everything comes together. Trust me, people are going to be flocking to buy cellos (and banjos) after this. *air cello riff*

    Lastly, the rest of the cast are BONKERS GOOD. Liana Liberato smashes it as Kim, the best friend, shown with a camera but given limited (important) time on screen; Jakob Davies boils your heart over a stove as Mia’s adorable little brother, Teddy; Gramps (Stacy Keach) is there to sauté some finely chopped onions at a crucial moment in the film, and Liz is brought to redheaded life by Ali Milner.

    In the end, the film does such a fantastic job of showing us loving parents and friends that it’s incredibly hard to choose between them.


    • you like music
    • you like beanies
    • you loved the book!
    • you like boxing-glove-to-the-heart love stories
    • you like our girl Chloe
    • you want to see a YA movie with characters that are real, grown people

    Are you pumped for this weekend, when you will be able to cry your VERY OWN TEARS in your local theater?

  • BN Editors 8:00 pm on 2014/08/11 Permalink
    Tags: chloe grace moretz, gayle forman, , ,   

    Interview with Chloë Grace Moretz, Star of the Upcoming Film Adaptation of If I Stay 

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    If I Stay

    The highly anticipated summer film If I Staybased on Gayle Forman’s fantastic YA novel by the same title, tells the story of Mia, a girl with a wild flair for the cello, played by actress Chloë Grace Moretz. Mia dreams of going to Julliard, but knows that moving across the country to New York would mean leaving behind her boyfriend, Adam, the lead singer of a rising Portland band. The story takes a profound turn when Mia is caught in a fatal car crash that kills her parents. Stuck in limbo outside her comatose body, Mia has to ask herself what it would mean to wake up alone—who her parents were, who she is, what Adam means to her, and just what she is losing.

    We talked to Chloë about rocking out to ’90s punk, going through classical music bootcamp, and how adults portray teens on-screen.

    Did you read the book first or the script?

    I read the book simultaneously as I read the script and pretty much fell in love with the character Mia, and I think because I fell in love with the book early on it mobilized me to want to really be true to the book and to the real fan base.

    What will every teen understand about Mia’s situation in this film?

    I think what they’re going to be able to understand is the idea of losing everyone in your family and losing your one true love, which is the family you’re born into, and kind of the life that you lead. When that is gone and when they all die around you, your identity in a sense is gone—you don’t even have your mom, your dad or your little brother, you’re kind of alone and I think anyone can understand that and feel that even if they haven’t been through a major tragedy.

    A lot of actors lie about being able to ride a horse, did you lie about being able to play the cello?

    I didn’t—everyone knew I couldn’t play the cello when I booked the role. So they spent about seven months training me, and really all I could learn in those months was the emotional kind of connection cellists have to their cellos and how lyrical it is to play it.

    Was it harder than learning martial arts for Kick-Ass?

    It was definitely harder, because I’m athletic, so learning martial arts wasn’t hard for me—I could just do it—but learning cello is a different skill set, you know what I mean.

    Your character Mia is as tough as Hit Girl, but in a different way—tell me about why she’s so kickass.

    I kind of fell in love with Mia in the beginning because we kind of have the same passion—she found the cello when she was eight years old and I found acting when I was five years old, so I kind of immediately had this connection to her (such) that I could really understand her and justify her struggles. And when I saw the amount of pain and loss she goes through and how she still overcomes it, and how strong she is, it really reminded me of kind of myself, because I’m not a “weak girl,” in a sense, and it was kind of easy to understand her.

    One of my favorite moments in the film is when a group of characters sing Smashing Pumpkins together. Did you know a lot about ’90s punk before making If I Stay?

    Yeah, I actually knew a good bit about it, so it was fun when we did that cover of Smashing Pumpkins with the cello and the banjo and the guitar and the amalgamation of different sounds. It was really cool.

    Which song would you love to hear made into a classic/punk collaboration?

    Oh, good question. It’s hard because a lot of those songs, I don’t think they lend themselves to (being) broken down like that because it has to have a trailing beat that you can kind of make up in the different sounds we were creating. And they actually did try a couple of different songs, and none of them worked—for some reason it just didn’t break down well enough and that was the one that broke down.

    Music is what Mia shares with her parents, and what she shares with Adam—did you use music to bring your relationship to life as actors?

    I think that Jamie and I definitely like the same kind of music, and he’s funny because he actually likes a lot of Top 40—he, like, loves Katy Perry, and Jay Z, and he loves The 1975, he’s really funny with his music taste. We all would dance and be stupid on our off time, it was fun.

    Your character’s parents fit the role you might have seen given to a teen in an older film—they rebelled, they were the punks. What do you think we don’t see enough of when teens are shown on film?

    I think we don’t see enough of a normal family situation, because not everyone has a horrible family situation—obviously some stuff happens, but it’s not absolutely horrible all the time, I think movies tend to villainize (parents) or make them all peaches and cream. So it’s great to see the parents (that) aren’t really great and aren’t really bad, it’s a normal familial relationship, and I think that we lose some of the rawness of, you know, childhood or young adulthood. Because (in If I Stay) they got to New Year’s Eve and they have some drinks, and they’re falling in love and it’s real. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine.

    Your character is given a lot of freedom by her parents in the film; she’s able to ride her bike around and make her own decisions—have you had to work to make adults take you seriously?

    I think when I was younger it was definitely harder for adults to take me seriously, but as I’ve grown up I’ve earned my stripes to be taken seriously, and now it’s taking effect and I’m being questioned less and, I guess, accepted.

    Jakob Davies plays Teddy and was the young kid on set, which used to be you—did you give him any pointers?

    He’s a pretty experienced kid for a young actor—he’s done a lot of TV and movies and stuff, so he kind of reminded me of myself when I was a kid. He was very precocious and sweet, I don’t even know if I gave him any advice.

    Liana Liberato plays Mia’s BFF, Kim. What did you guys want to show in your friendship?

    I don’t know, we were friends either way—just off set, we became friends—so we kind of mimicked our own relationship in the movie and kind of did what we do in real life, so some of it was just us fooling around and being stupid and the other bit was scripted.

    You’re starring in The 5th Wave next, an adaptation of a YA series by Rick Yancey, and spent a lot of time on-set with If I Stay author Gayle Forman—has this inspired you to get writing?

    I try to, but because I’m 17 I think my brain can’t handle sitting and writing one thing, so I’ll literally start a project of writing something and I get completely sidetracked and I CANNOT FINISH IT. So I think I have to give myself a couple of years and try.

    What are some of your favorite YA books?

    I enjoy books that aren’t really YA in that sense, so when I read The 5th Wave it’s a very un-YA YA book, and the same with If I Stay, and these are books that hang under the label of YA but aren’t really—they deal with bigger problems and bigger emotions than most YA books. My favorite novel in general is Wuthering Heights.

    If I Stay is in theaters on August 22.

    (Interview cross-posted from our friends at SparkLife.)

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