From the mailbag:
Kelley writes: Dear Laurie Halse Anderson or Whoever-Reads-This,
Just this spring (2006) I saw the movie Speak aired on Lifetime. It was an amazing movie. It insprired me to find the book and read it. On my way to a small vacation, I read and finished the book within a couple hours. I couldn’t stop reading it. I had a question, though, because I didn’t understand something. In the book, at the end when Melinda tells her teacher about what happened, it is different in the movie. In the movie Melinda tells her mom. I was just wondering why you decided to use the ending of Melinda telling her mom in the movie, but in the book she tells her teacher. I know that it may seem like a stupid question, but it has been nagging me for a long time. So, if you have the time, could you please answer this question? Thank you for your time.
Good catch, Kelley. You’re right – that is the major difference between the film and the book. It was one that I had no power over. When an author signs the contract that gives permission to make her book into a movie, she gives up all control over the story itself. The director has to make the choices (and changes) that will make a good film. (This is why watching a movie made out of your favorite book can be a disappointment.)
There is one aspect of this change that makes sense to me, though. The book is a strong first person point-of-view story. We see the world and the characters through Melinda’s eyes. That is part of why her parents come off as such jerks; she is a depressed 14-year-old who doesn’t have the maturity to understand the struggles her parents are going through.
The movie is told from the third person point-of-view. (Most movies are.) In the film, you get a clearer sense of the problems that the Mom and Dad are struggling with, and also that they are trying (awkwardly) to reach out to their daughter. I think this makes the movie ending work.
I’m off to Ithaca today for an adventure in a special library and to give a speech at Cornell. (Scroll down for my listing.)
I wish I could go to Comic-Con. Are any of you going?