Summer mail and a speech

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?

9 Replies to “Summer mail and a speech”

  1. i want to see that movie very much. i swear, melinda is just like i was in high school, except i didn’t have a janitor’s old closet or whatever to hide out in. plus i’m not as brave as she is.

  2. Ooooh, if I didn’t have to cope with work/internship/classwork/7 year old, I’d take a little road trip to hear you speak at Cornell!! Do you get to tour their special collections library? It’s supposed to be pretty amazing.

  3. I have a few things that I want to say to you. The first thing I want to say is how much I loved your book Speak. I also want to add that Speak helped me in more ways than one. I find that I can relate to Melinda on so many levels and it was nice to see a character that I can relate to for once. Thank you so much. You have helped me in many ways also.

    You should try and go to SDCC. I know that Fred Gallenger is going to be there. It would be pretty cool to meet him. You could get some Megatokyo stuff signed or have something drawn by him.

  4. Speech at Cornell

    Hey! I was one of those crazy kids in the front row when you gave your speech at Cornell. I wanted to let you know that I really appreciated your “secret author tips.” I think that a large part of why some kids have trouble in school is that teachers expect kids to (1) immediately start reading a book because they simply “say” it’s good, (2) expect kids to write critiques of these books in very short periods of time, and (3) grade firsts drafts. Especially that last thing; grading first drafts has always seemed rather degrading to me, and while comments about first drafts are very valuable, telling someone how bad their first draft is can be rather cruel. Anyway, I was very happy to learn that you’re a blogger.

  5. Regarding the changes made between film and a book:

    Do you think it is “right” or “fair” for Hollywood to make changes without the author’s consent? I understand the author usually signs away the rights to film, and that an author who doesn’t is less likely to have a film made of her book. But in spirit, do you agree with this practice?

    ~ T

  6. Cornell Lecture / Classics vs. YA in Schools

    Dear Ms. Anderson,
    I’ve been trying to find an email address or a mailing address for you, but I’ve had no luck! Please let me know how I can reach you so that I don’t rant too much on your livejournal about the issue we were discussing.

    You can email me at

    -Dorian (the pro-classics in schools student)

  7. Book Was Better

    I was seriously disappointed with the movie. It lacked the humor and “student’s-eye-view” that the book had. There are only a few sentences narrated by Melinda, and although it stayed true to the plot (with the exception of the resolution, where Melinda confesses to her mom rather than Mr. Freeman), there were some discrepancies in detail:
    1. They changed Heather’s place of origin – how hard would it have been to make her hometown Ohio instead of La Hoya?
    2. Nicole was not mentioned anywhere in the movie.

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