John Green fans must have felt as though they’d stumbled into the literal heart of Jesus on Monday with news that the author’s 2008 novel Paper Towns would also be adapted into a feature film, with The Fault in Our Stars actor Nat Wolff cast in the lead. The announcement isn’t just a boon for Nerdfighters everywhere, but also for fans of what, for our purposes, I’ll call Everyday YA: teen narratives in which nary a magic wand, sparkling vampire, or deadly arena (save for the high school hallway, of course) are to be found. And this latest option may just be the start.
When my colleague Nicole Sperling spoke with movie producers in the wake of Divergent‘s boffo box office, they hinted that the trend in young-adult filmmaking may very well be these types of tales — “less action-oriented and more intimate,” as Sperling summarized it. So if the tide is indeed turning toward the sort of characters who would have populated your 15th birthday party, noshing on Doritos and paging through YM magazines (RIP!), where should moviemakers mine for source material? I’ve got three suggestions for Everyday YA perfectly suited for celluloid:
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
How much do I love Perkins’ debut novel about a teen cinephile acclimating to life (and lust) in Paris? Let me count the ways…or not. Suffice it to say, the will-they-won’t-they romance of Anna Oliphant and her Parisian paramour, Etienne St. Clair, is the sort of stuff a teen film written by Nora Ephron would have amounted to, had Nora Ephron written teen films. I’ll have the Nutella-filled crepe she’s having…
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Really, either of Rowell’s wonderful 2013 young-adult novels would be good film fodder, but I’m giving the edge to the cheeky-fun Fangirl, not only because I preferred it over Eleanor and Park (we can argue that stance in the schoolyard after class…), but also because the in-story Harry Potter-esque fanfiction Cath Avery writes would make for a positively magical movie-within-a-movie. Does this cheat the “no fantastical elements” rule? Perhaps, but I won’t squeal to the Watford School of Magicks if you won’t.
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Adaptation chatter has followed this endearing novel by the authors of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist for years. In fact, the film rights were purchased in 2010 by Scott Rudin Productions with a then-up-and-coming filmmaker named Lena Dunham set to write and direct. A lot (and not much) has changed since then: Dunham has become a star thanks to her HBO series Girls, and Cohn and Levithan’s tale of two teens involved in a yuletide scavenger hunt across New York City has yet to appear neatly wrapped in theaters. Santa: Consider this my early Christmas wish list.
What are your picks for Everyday YA in need of the movie treatment?