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Sunday, July 21, 2024 at 12:58 PM

“Happiness for Beginners” by Katherine Center

“Happiness for Beginners” by Katherine Center

The book is always better than the movie. We have all read and loved a book, and when it is made into a movie or show, we get excited – but we may also remain very cautious because we know how this often turns out. There are great examples of screen adaptations being different from the books they are based on, but still excellent, and many terrible ones. 

This week’s book is “Happiness for Beginners” by Katherine Center, and it also happens to be a new movie streaming on Netflix. The novel is a fun and fast-paced romantic comedy about Helen Carpenter, who can't seem to bounce back from the last year or six of her life. Newly divorced at thirty-two, she's unsure if she can ever put her mess of a life back together. She decides that a shake-up is in order and signs up for a three-week wilderness survival course in Wyoming. She hopes this adventure will be just what she needs to reset her life. It is a total disaster. A few of the things Helen has to deal with on her big adventure are blisters, a summer blizzard, rutting elk, and a pack of sorority girls.

Add to the list that her annoying younger brother’s even more annoying best friend, Jake, is also “coincidentally" on the same trip, and Helen isn’t sure she can take anymore. But, as it often does in these stories, Helen discovers that sometimes we have to be broken all the way down before we can be put back together, and getting lost is sometimes the only way to be truly found. In short, I loved this book.

The movie? Well. Except for the name being the same and the very general idea of the story being the same, it was almost nothing like the book. It was unbelievable how many things they changed. I know this would bother some readers, but hear me out. The movie is funny, cute, and perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon. I am no movie director, but as a “consumer of stories," I understand why things are tweaked or changed when translating a book into a movie. Time doesn’t always allow for every single plot point to be addressed. Some great stuff in a book might make a movie or show drag. Budgets may not allow certain book aspects to make it into the film. There are so many factors involved, and at the end of the day, if people watch the movie on Netflix and think it's cute, they might be more likely to go pick up the book and see if there is truth to the old “the book is always better" adage.  These movies make readers, and that's enough to make me happy.

Check out “Happiness for Beginners” in book form and on Netflix, then come tell me which you liked better over on Instagram @allison.the.reader, where I am reading and rambling every day of the week.

Allison Diegel is the Executive Chaos Coordinator at the Diegel Home for Wayward Girls and Their Many Pets here in her hometown of Fallon. She has been reading since before she could talk, and now she likes doing lots of both.