Category Archives: This Book Would Make A Great Movie

But What Does She Look Like?

November 4, 1936


Here you come, Harriet Nathan, tiny face pinched, eyes squinting fiercely against the glare of surgical lamps, at a newly renovated Swedish hospital, high on Seattle’s First Hill.

This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

Once again transcribing the first sentences of a book I just finished shows me something I either missed or forgot while reading the book. It was somewhere around page 8 that I started wondering if the story was taking place in Seattle; specifically, was the store Frederick & Nelson in other places in the country that also had a Fourth Street and Union Street that intersected? But there it was in the very first sentence. Oh well, that is not what I came here to record.

I liked the books’ structure, and the title’s reference to the old TV show was perfect, but I’m a sucker for short chapters and non-linear storytelling. There were a few times that I felt something for the characters and a few times I was surprised by something, but maybe not enough.

Harriet, in my mind’s eye, was a generic “little old lady.” I couldn’t picture her, not at 78, not at 36, not at 18, etc. Mr. Evison gave her a personality, I should have given her a face and maybe then I would have been more invested.

Even in a non-linear story, it helps to have a beginning point – a time the story is moving forward from so that you can watch characters grow or learn, or something. I expect that was supposed to start on page 10, when we first meet Harriet at 78. But, other than getting soundly stepped on a few times, I don’t think Harriet changed between April 6, 2015 (when we first meet her) and August 26, 2015 (when we say goodbye). For me, in the end the entire story felt like something that had already happened, was completely set, and we were just revisiting to find out why Harriet was Harriet.

Rereading that first sentence and the first two chapters, I start to think more about the story. Maybe I should reread it again at some point in the future, perhaps it is the sort of book that once you stop wondering what is going to happen next, you slow down and get something completely different out of it.


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Filed under Books to Read on Planes, I Need To Read This Again, This Book Would Make A Great Movie

The Risk For The Girl On The Train

She’s buried beneath a silver birch tree, down towards the old train tracks, her grave marked with a cairn. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I had forgotten about the first two pages; if you had asked before I looked back at the beginning of the book, I would have told you the first sentences were these:

There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train tracks. Light-blue cloth – a shirt, perhaps – jumbled up with something dirty white.

Reading the real first sentence, even a week after I finished the book, reminds me that, damn, that was a good book!

There is always a danger to reading a book that “everyone” is saying is great, just as there is in seeing the movie or eating at the restaurant that “everyone” is talking about, anything placed on a pedestal is in danger of falling, of failing to live up to expectations.

Perhaps I was saved from this disappointment by a celebrity comment that she thought the book was just ok?

Or, more likely, I wasn’t disappointed because the story really is that good, and because it had my all-time favorite type of ending: I didn’t see it coming but it made perfect sense.

I expect to see this made into a movie, and I hope they do a really good job of it because it’s going to be really easy to be disappointed if it isn’t great!


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When You Reach That Wrinkle In Time

So Mom got the postcard today. It says Congratulations in big curly letters, and at the very top is the address of Studio TV-15 on West 58th Street.

Whoever the intended audience is, a good story is a joy to read and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is good story. You don’t have to believe me, it was a Newbery Medal winner. Just as importantly, my sister-in-law recommended it during a conversation about A Wrinkle In Time (Miranda’s, our narrator, favorite book).

I could see the movie that should be made from the book in my mind.

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Can Adult Fiction Have a 14 Year Old Protagonist?

“Growing up in rural Connecticut, I had been told the name Riddell meant something to people in the Northwest.

Just finished A Sudden Light by Garth Stein. I enjoyed the story, but I never completely suspended disbelief two reasons:

1) Letters and diary entries that were too detailed.

2) Our protagonist turns 14 in the first part of the book but Trevor Riddell didn’t sound 14 to me. I read a review that said this age-voice mismatch is because the story is being told by Trevor as an adult, but that wouldn’t explain all of it. Then again, I’ve never been a 14 year old boy, and our author has, so maybe he knows this voice better than I do.

This story could be an excellent movie; some of the components of the story that we need to know could be shown instead of being told through a diary entry and a strong actor could make it easier to believe Trevor regardless of his age.

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