Tag Archives: Oprah Winfrey

Movie vs. Book: A Wrinkle In Time

The classic fantasy children’s novel tells the story of a young girl Meg, who is transported to another planet by three other-worldly women (Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which). The mission: to locate her father who has gone missing in a space-traveling mishap. Along for the ride are her younger “special” brother (Charles Wallace) who is brilliant and a boy from school (Calvin) who — unbeknownst to her — is interested in her, her intelligence and her friendship.

It’s an empowering female story about love, trust and taking a leap of faith. For that reason, it has been read by boys and girls everywhere since it was first published in 1962. To see it on the big screen with such a phenomenal cast as Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Storm Reid and Chris Pine was exciting to say the very least.

The movie takes the novel a step further by not only having a female lead this story, but by making her mixed race, forcing more than just a gender-oriented discussion. The character of Mrs. Who, who in the novel only speaks by quoting famous philosophers and successful people, is also updated in the movie as she quotes more modern artists, including Outkast and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Because the book is so fantastical, the movie has to hold up to it; it relies on a lot of CG in these make-believe planets. Good or bad, cheesy or not, the CG is beautiful. It’s simply a pretty movie to watch, which works considering how pretty the story is when we first read it.

But there are some major changes that really take away from the original story. In the novel, Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace are each given a piece of advice from the three Mrs. when they are forced to complete the journey on their own. Calvin is told his best talent is communication and he should use it when the moment calls for it. When the trio finds themselves in a moment where the evil spirit IT is trying to hypnotize them with monotonous chanting, Calvin gets out of the trap by shouting back at IT in phrasing that doesn’t rhyme or sound rhythmic in any way. It allows him to keep from being hypnotized, and then Meg follows suit. This section is eliminated from the movie altogether. By cutting this scene, the movie ultimately gives Calvin no real purpose. He just seems to be a character along for the ride. Without those few key moments, he’s essentially worthless.

In the book when Meg finally finds her father, he is trapped in a glass tube. Getting him out from there becomes a entirely new challenge. But in the movie, when she finds him, he’s just roaming around in a multi-colored hallway, and they are able to embrace and easily move on with the story.

As the story goes, Charles Wallace has become brainwashed by IT. Meg’s father suggests leaving the planet without Charles Wallace. The mere suggestion leaves Meg so aghast that her father would ever consider leaving his son behind. It leaves the reader aghast too. I remember thinking what a horrible father! But then Meg, Calvin and Meg’s father “tesser” — or transport — to another planet. Meg becomes really sick. She’s comforted and nursed back to health by a mysterious, mystical creature who she names Aunt Beast. During this time, she and her father resolve their issues and the Mrs. come back and tell Meg that she must be the one to  save Charles Wallace since she has the closest relationship with him. This ENTIRE section is removed from the movie. It is crushing to have this section cut and damages the storytelling of the movie. First of all, Aunt Beast is a beloved character. To have her eliminated is just sad. Secondly, this part of the book allows Meg — and  us, the readers — to make peace with Meg’s father over his suggestion to leave Charles Wallace behind. This resolution doesn’t really happen in the movie until the very end, at which point it feels like a rushed, forced afterthought.

It’s no surprise to me that the movie version of A Wrinkle in Time has gotten bad reviews, and that the movie will likely bomb at the box office. Personally, I thought there was some great acting and a few key moments filled with emotion. I also still think it’s an important movie for right now — seeing a biracial female lead us on this journey. But it doesn’t finish with the full scope of emotion, positivity, strength, empowerment, fantasy and storytelling that the book is known for.

Get A Wrinkle in Time in paperback for $5.65. 

Or on your Kindle for $6.99.

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Review: A Million Little Pieces

41g7xxsr2olRecap: Since he was ten years old, James Frey has been drinking. He’s been smoking pot since he was a teenager and doing hard drugs since he graduated high school. Arrests and sweet girlfriends couldn’t get him to stop. So finally one day, he woke up on a plane with a broken nose, missing teeth and no idea where he was headed. It turns out, he was headed to meet his parents, who were taking him to a rehab facility — one of the best in the country — at the age of 23. With his life and his heart in a million little pieces, he spends the duration of the book trying to put it all back together in rehab.

He gets into fights and refuses to accept the Twelve Step program. He starts dating a girl named Lilly even though it’s against facility rules. But eventually makes friends, reads books sent to him by his brother and makes amends with his parents, who visit for the family program.

Analysis: If you’re wondering “is this the ‘fake memoir’ whose author Oprah embarrassed on national television years ago?”, the answer is yes. But for me, the controversy that comes with the book makes it all the more interesting. Knowing the background allowed me to read the book more as a fictionally-embellished memoir or straight-up fiction novel and therefore enjoy it. Sure, had I read it ten years ago as a memoir and learned afterwards that many of the characters and experiences in Frey’s life were fabricated, I would have been upset. But it likely wouldn’t have — and didn’t now — stop me from still finding the Frey’s struggle with drugs both fascinating, sad and educational — however enhanced they may be.

Frey’s writing style also mirrors the struggle of an addict. New paragraphs are not indented. Many sentences are run-ons. Selective words are capitalized throughout the books, like Family or Girl or Fury. Those choices parallel the messiness, disorder and classification of things good and bad with which an addict tends to deal. One can assume that Frey’s staying sober is real since he’s now a well-known published author. The “friends” he references throughout the book mostly end up in jail or dead in the books’ epilogue. Even though those characters may not be real, I believe that their endings are likely real for most addicts of that level. The book’s details may not be real, but the experience seem true, and that makes it worth reading.

Get A Million Little Pieces in paperback for $9.25.

Or on your Kindle for $11.99.

 

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Oprah Penning New Book

After having co-authored five books and writing a monthly column in her own magazine, Oprah Winfrey is coming out with a new book.

According to The New York TimesWinfrey has written a book about life — its struggles and inspirations. Called What I Know For Sure, the book is named after and adapted from the column Winfrey writes in her monthly O, The Oprah Magazine.

The book is being marketed as a self-help book meant to “guide” people to become “their best selves.”

What I Know for Sure is due out in September, and will be published by Flatiron Books, a new nonfiction imprint of Macmillan.

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‘Today’ To Start Its Own Book Club

Though Oprah Winfrey resurrected her famous Oprah’s Book Club last year with Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, producers at NBC still felt TV viewers throughout the country were lacking in the book club department. Hence, the new Today book club.

According to The New York Times, it’s part of The Today Show‘s attempt to revive and substantiate the show, adding something Good Morning America doesn’t have. The Today book club will feature roughly one book a month, and will air interviews with the books’ authors during the morning show. The books will feature stickers, so they’ll be easily recognized as a Today Show pick.

Oprah’s Book Club brought a lot of success to the publishing industry — most of her selected books skyrocketed to bestsellers — and to Oprah herself. Publishers, authors, and the staff at Today are hoping to mirror that success with the new book club. The only problem — Oprah had Oprah to help boost the sales. People listened to her. Today doesn’t have that one person to make people listen. Either way, books and authors are starting to, once again, get the media coverage they’ve been lacking for so long.

According to the L.A. Times, the blogging site Tumblr is following suit, starting its own book club.

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Get For One More Day for $15 in Hardcover

There’s a hot deal right now for Mitch Albom’s bestseller For One More Day. Now you can get it in hardcover for less than $15 — a total savings of 32%. And it’s less than $10 on Kindle or in paperback.

I reviewed it a few months ago, and pointed out its fantastical take on life and death. It’s a tearjerker, but it makes you think and appreciate what you’ve been given.

Definitely worth picking up.

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Review: For One More Day

Recap:  Well, Mitch Albom did it again. The author best known for Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet In Heaven writes yet another philosophical, fantastical novel about death. For One More Day follows the story of Charley “Chick” Benetto, who tries to kill himself by driving his car drunk into the path of an oncoming truck.

The accident seriously injures Chick, and he enters limbo between Heaven and Earth. That’s where Chick comes into contact with his dead mother. He spends one more day with her, reflecting on his childhood, learning about his father who left them, and even more about his mother and himself.

The story leaves us wondering a number of things. Is Chick seeing a ghost? Is this really happening? And is he going to die or live?

Analysis: In For One More Day, Mitch Albom does what he does best. He writes from the heart, telling a story that one could only wish, hope, and dream to be true. He gives this character – or real person as we’re told – the ability to spend one more day with his mother, after she’s been gone for so many years. Though I’m lucky enough to still have my mother, I know that if she were to pass, I could only dream of seeing her again.

What Albom does – and does well – is tell the reader some things matter-of-factly, whereas other plot points are blurred. For instance, he makes it clear that Chick Benetto is a real man he met one day, and that this is Benetto’s version of events. But the ghostly relationship that develops leaves us to wonder how much of this could be true. Albom develops this uncertainty on purpose.

He urges us to question so many things about what’s real and what’s not. In the end, he leaves it up to the reader to decide because ultimately, the reality of the plot isn’t the point of the story. The love between a mother and her son is the true story here. And I dare you to read this book and not feel that love or shed a tear by the end.

MVP: Pauline “Posey” Benetto, Charley’s mother. Real or not, she seems perfect and flawed in a motherly kind of way. Like any mother, she has her secrets, which are not revealed until much later. But she’s loving, caring, and would do anything for her children, despite their disinterest or unwillingness to appreciate her. She is proof that a mother’s love never dies.

Here is the trailer for the made-for-TV movie version of the book, starring Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos) and Ellen Burstyn (Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Requiem for a Dream).

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