194: Young Adult Lit Book-to-Screen Adaptations
Updated: Oct 9
In this Unabridged Podcast episode, we discuss one of our favorite topics, book-to-screen adaptations. In this one, we focus on young adult books that have been adapted to films or series. We talk about ones we've discussed on the podcast and others we've loved. This episode is perfect for the 2021 Unabridged Reading Challenge because it covers the category for a YA lit book that has been adapted as well as for the bonus "Watch the Adaptation" category!
Adaptations Mentioned in Episode
Jenny Han's To All the Boys series (Amazon | Bookshop.org) and the Netflix adaptations (episode about the All the Boys I've Loved Before adaptation adaptation and the episode about the Always and Forever, Lara Jean adaptation)
Jen's Bookish Fave blog post featuring YA Lit Fantasy Adaptations
Give Me One - Thing You Like to Do with Friends
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Ashley said, "So one of the books I'm reading is The Nature of Witches (Amazon | Bookshop.org). This one just came out in June, so it's a new release from the summer. This is the story of Clara who is an Everwitch: she is at a school that is for witches. All of the students in the school and the witches in the larger community have the ability to help with weather events, so she's in school to help craft that ability. But all the other students are seasonal, so that means that if they're a Spring, then their ability is strongest in the spring, and so they can do a lot with like storms and things like that. But then when summer comes, they still have some power, but it's much, much weaker. The reason Clara is called an Everwitch is because her abilities last and change from season to season. She is the only one who has this ability to have full power essentially all year. As in our real world, the larger community is not taking care of the environment in great ways, so there are a lot of rather cataclysmic weather events that are happening, and so the role of the witches is becoming more and more important as they help to stabilize these unexpected weather events that are occurring and that are causing floods and fires and things like that, that can really decimate a community. So the witches' role is really important, and she has this special talent. However, her power also is kind of unpacked as the story goes on, but her power has targeted essentially the people that she loves. She has lost people, like people in her life have died connected to this power that she has. So she—in a lot of ways—wants to not have her power at all anymore, yet, this is coming at a time when the world needs people with her exact skill set to be able to help the community. There's a lot of tension for her with that, and the teachers at her school are desperate to help her harness her power so that she can use it effectively and be able to help with these weather events where she would be such a vital asset early on as she is finding her way.
"There is a student who is brought in from another school, . . . and he can do all these really amazing things with a growth of flowers and a vegetation. His other ability is he has a very calming power, and so they're hoping that he will be able to partner with her so that the anxiety that she feels when she's trying to cast and to help with these really hard situations . . . that he'll be able to help her do that. A lot of the beginning of the story is is them training and working to help her both contain but also use her power because she is so has so much trepidation that she doesn't want to use it. So it's a really interesting story, and I feel for her as she is trying to figure out what to do and how to manage this unique situation that she's in. She feels really lonely, and there are some awful things that have happened and that happen that are related to her struggles. So I mean, I'm really interested in it; I have seen such great reviews of this one, and I am often all here for all things witchy. I really love stories that explore the story of witches and that build those worlds where they're learning to use powers in interesting ways, so that's why it caught my attention. So far, so good. So that is Rachel Griffin's The Nature of Witches."
Jen said, "So I am reading—this is actually a reread for me—Eric Schlosser's Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (Amazon | Bookshop.org). I read this back (I just checked on Goodreads) in 2012. So it has been a while. But I'm reading this for school. One of the things that we did this past year was a fast food project that asked students to consider the marketing of fast food as one component and then also the agricultural impact of fast food. One of the teachers is an ag teacher, and so she really studies the agricultural impacts of fast food. Reading it through that lens is really fascinating. I'm not very far in it. I'm sort of doing a chapter here and there. It is a book that you can dip in and out of, but Schloesser is analyzing both the way that the United States's shifts have affected the fast food industry and the way, even more powerfully, that the fast food industry has shaped a lot of communities in the United States. Some of it is quite insidious and really disturbing, but it is definitely fascinating. I'm sort of looking for a chapter that I can use with my students, so I'm definitely reading it with a different lens than I did the first time it is a really well done read, he goes into the first few chapters are about the history of fast food, how everything got started, the way it sort of became an industry instead of standalone fast food restaurants, the way parts of it are mimicking industrialization. I know that eventually he gets into the impact it has had on nutrition. So I'm sort of waiting for those chapters. Those are the ones that hit me hardest the first time through that I really remembered. So a lot of this, I remember vaguely, but it's always interesting to reread nonfiction, particularly when your lens has shifted. The first time through, I was just reading it for enjoyment, and then again, this time, I'm looking at it from a teaching perspective. I'm learning a lot this time around."
Sara said, "I just started Laura Dave's The Last Thing He Told Me (Amazon | Bookshop.org). I've been seeing this everywhere, and it sounded so compelling. I mean, I just started it. I'm only a couple chapters in, but so far I'm hooked. It seems like it's going to be one that is just going to grab me and make me want to read and turn the pages as fast as I can. So the the premise is that the main character has found her husband—oh, the main character's name is Hannah, and she met this guy, and they dated a year, and then they've been married for a year. She thinks he's the love of her life, and one day, she is at her house with her stepdaughter, and this young girl who's 12 knocks on her door and hands her this piece of yellow paper that has her husband's handwriting on it. It says, 'Hannah,' her name, and the girl says that her husband had given it to her in the hall at school and said please give this to Hannah and that he just shoved it in her hands, but he gave her 20 bucks to do it. So she brings the paper to her, and when Hannah opens it, it only says two words, and the words are 'protect her.' And that's it. So that's where I am: I mean, that happens in the very first chapter, and then I assume we're going to find out more and more as it goes. I can tell you one thing. I mean, it's caught me from the beginning. I can't wait to read the rest. So the kind of tagline for it is a gripping mystery about a woman who thinks she's found the love of her life until he disappears. So we'll see what happens. But I'm excited to see where it goes. That is Laura Dave's The Last Thing He Told Me."
Main Discussion - YA Literature Adaptations
Here are just a few of the adaptations we mention in the episode.
Ashley said, "I think I would like to shout out the To All the Boys series (Amazon | Bookshop.org). Those adaptations, I absolutely love all of all three of those. So we got episodes for the first one and the last one, but I also loved the middle, and I just thought all three of them were really fun and just great. I loved that series. We've talked before about all the reasons why I love that series, but I just think that Jenny Han does such a phenomenal job bringing Lara Jean to life and showing her and her family and the ways that she is growing up and the love that she feels for Peter, but also how she's trying to find her way. All of that just really worked for me. So yeah, I would shout that series out. Because I absolutely love both the books, and all three of the adaptations I thought were fantastic. I think I shared when we recorded about them, but my life partner watched them too, and he enjoyed them as well. So I think that is a good testament to the fact that they are well done because why a romance is not his go to."
Jen said, "So the one I want to share is actually one of our more recent episodes, Looking for Alaska (Amazon | Bookshop.org). That's a series on Hulu. We only talked about the pilot, which I think is brilliant, but I have watched the entire series, and I just could not recommend that adaptation more. I love the John Green book, but as I said in the episode, that's not my favorite John Green book, and I think that adaptation in some way takes the strengths of the book and emphasizes those even more and elevates the source material. I think the casting in that series is amazing. I think it emphasizes some issues of race and class that aren't as big a part of the book that I think made it really seem updated even though technically it is historical fiction—a historical movie anyway. But I really could not recommend that limited series more. So Looking for Alaska, the John Green book is his first book, and then you can check out the adaptation as well."
Sara said, "Well, I know that neither of my counterparts are going to agree with me on this, but I really liked the adaptation of Five Feet Apart (Amazon | Bookshop.org). Also, along with that I really liked the adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars (Amazon | Bookshop.org) by John Green, which we have not covered on the podcast, but we have talked at length about it. I think even when we covered Five Feet Apart, which [they're] happy is in our vault. But we did cover it way back when, and this is actually one of the rare times that we did not agree as much on the book nor the adaptation, but I really love this adaptation. I love the casting. I really like Cole Sprouse. So I thought he made a great Will, and I thought the casting was really good in that movie, and I love the book. I'm always here for emotional manipulation, and a good cry during a book more even than than a movie. It takes a lot more to make me actually shed a tear in a book versus a movie, but I did both in the adaptation for Five Feet Apart, and also for The Fault in Our Stars. I just really liked these stories. I think back then it was really new to cover chronic illness and be living with something that has you in and out of the hospital and really limits what you can like the connections you can make in terms of touching. I thought that was all real. I learned a lot, and I just I really liked it. I am all about the star-crossed lovers trope, which I know that Ashley and Jen are not, but I just really like it, and I just thought it was really sweet. I just thought the acting was really good, and I just liked it. I liked the book, and I liked the adaptation of Five Feet Apart."
Be sure to listen for the rest of our recommendations!
Give Me One - Thing You Like to Do with Friends
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