Wednesday, June 12, 2013
What I Read
“Life is hard, Pat, and children have to be told how hard life can be.”
“So they will be sympathetic to others. So they will understand that some people have it harder than they do and that a trip through this world can be a wildly different experience, depending on what chemicals are raging through one’s mind.”
Okay, I'm finally getting around to doing this. I finished the book over a month ago, and started writing this and never finished it. And then one of the book clubs used it for their book for May, so I didn't really want to get in the middle of a club I wasn't in. Logical? Not really. But that's my story. So let's get started, shall we?
First of all, I have to point out how much I love that Pat's main trigger is Kenny G music. My dad always played Kenny G in our house growing up (he still does), so every time he mentions "Mr G" and how awful he is, I had to smile to myself. This alone put the book into a special place in my heart.
If I'm going to see a movie based on a book, I usually try to read the book first (as I'm sure most of you do), but I didn't do that with this, because honestly, I hadn't heard of it until the movie started getting attention last year.
I was excited to read it though, because I loved the movie. It got some criticism for not accurately portraying mental illness, but I disagree. I thought it did a great job.
So now I'm going to say what you're probably not supposed to say: I'm not sure if the book was better than the movie.
Like I said, I really, really loved the movie. And then when I read the book, I really, really loved the book. But I think I loved them for completely different reasons, which is why I'm not sure if I can say that one was better than the other.
A book is always able to get into the real nuances of someone's personality, more than a movie ever could. This is always one of the major benefits of reading a book over watching a movie, but I think it's especially notable when the main characters are dealing with mental illness. What's going on in their brains is entirely the point of the book, so to be able to experience that firsthand really makes a difference.
One thing I really loved is he montage that Matthew Quick paints while they're doing their dance rehearsals... it's so, so beautiful to me. I could totally picture it in my head, and not the dance scenes from the movie. I could hear the music playing, and see the sweat dripping off their bodies, and feel the tension in the room. It's some really good writing, you guys.
Honestly, I loved most of the characters as they were drawn into this book. Pat's dad was kind of a douche, but when you think about the fact that he probably suffers from some of the same issues that Pat does, you tend to be a bit sympathetic, even to him. Matthew Quick is REALLY good at weaving the entire character into the story that you're reading - you can easily see the tenderness of Pat's mother, the awkward hopefulness of his brother Jake, and the guarded, confused vulnerability of Tiffany. (Obviously we have the whole book to get to know her.)
People have criticized the book (and the movie) by saying that true love doesn't make all of your issues go away, but I don't think that's the message this book is trying to convey - I believe the book is saying "hey, you know what? life kinda sucks sometimes. that's not going to change, so you might as well surround yourself with people that you love." And I think that's true. No matter what you're dealing with throughout your life, it always helps to have people by your side that love you, right?
Another thing I've seen is that there's not a good enough "reason" Pat and Tiffany are the way that they are, and I'll be honest, that makes me angry. Please understand this: mental illness doesn't have a reason. It can affect anyone. Anyone. Suggesting that they don't have a good enough "reason" to be crazy is an insult to anyone that suffers from mental illness.
At the end of the day, I think I love this book because at its core, its an optimistic book. All of the characters have been through a lot, and even though the book hits some pretty low points, it always maintains that the sun will come out eventually, and that there is always a shot at a silver lining. And that is a wonderful thing.
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