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The Last Song – Book/Movie (Mom)

My daughter wrote her review/comparison before I wrote mine. I will try to respond and expand on certain things she mentioned, plus some things we discussed after reading the book and watching the movie.

Nicholas Sparks has said he wrote the book with Miley Cyrus in mind as the lead for the film. Keeping that in mind, I have some questions as to which things were changed specifically for the movie. As every mom knows by now, budget requirements sometimes override creative input.

My teen describes the book is written in a way that mixes romance, heartbreak and a touch of mystery. I wouldn’t say comedy, because those laughs were very-necessary relief from the tension.

If you haven’t read the book or seen the previews, the story centers on Ronnie (Veronica) spending the summer with her dad on the beach. The book says Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, the movie changes this to Tybee Island, Georgia. To those who live in the NY/NJ area, either of the two seems like a great place to be. By plane, not much difference.

In the book and the movie, Ronnie’s mom drives her to dad’s house. Try driving 11 hours from NYC midtown (I used Grand Central as a starting point) with a 17-year-old who doesn’t wanna go to dad’s house. Now try 14 to 15 hours with that same teenager and her younger brother as they argue. What do you call a mom who makes that trip without pulling over, or yelling? An absolute saint, or completely imaginary.

One scene from the book, was Ronnie’s first afternoon at the beach. She gets out of her mom’s car, walks past her dad without saying hello, and goes to the beach. While she’s looking for fun or trouble, or trying to stay away from her dad, a fight breaks out. Where some teenagers might walk away to avoid getting drawn into the fight, Ronnie raises her voice and rescues a little boy who was wandering into the battlefield. I mention this scene specifically because it’s the first  glimpse of caring from her. If the movie had included this scene, we would think of her earlier attitude as cranky instead of dismissive. As we heard so often and continue to hear today “if you want to be treated like an adult, try acting like an adult”.

I won’t spoil the book, or the movie, for anyone who wants to enjoy them. I can tell you the book has some very dramatic moments, where Ronnie discovers things about her parents. These facts make her realize that her parents are people, not just mom and dad. In the movie, these moments are removed and we have the story of a girl reconnecting with her dad and finding her first love.

In the book, Ronnie’s dad Steve lived by himself but had a very intimate relationship with God, plus personal friendship and a mentor relationship with Pastor Harris of the local church. Steve was working on a stained glass window for the church, which I found symbolic for the rebuilding of his relationship with Ronnie. The moments when Steve would play on the church’s piano made me cry, because it was like overhearing his most private thoughts. Without his outside interests, Steve seemed stuck as a dad instead of being a full character on his own. There were other parts of the movie where characters were condensed or almost eliminated, and those cuts affected my feelings about the film.

As my daughter wrote in her review..

the movie is great by itself. But if you read the book, you may be a bit disappointed.

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