Movie Musings: The Half of It – Review & Book Recs
The Half of It which is a Netflix exclusive movie released last Friday and I couldn’t wait to watch! Definite friendships, small town life, and clearly LGBTQIA+ content, WoC leads, and written and directed by a WoC!
Yes, Netflix. You have my attention. Hell Yes!
I will also give you some book recommendations because, I love books and can’t help myself.
The Half of It (2020)
The Half of It is exactly what the movie tag line says – not a love story. The internet will tell you it is a love story, and it is, but it isn’t your typical love story. It is a take on the Cyrano de Bergerac trope, where one young man enlists the help he needs to write love letters to his crush. Just so happens that the smart girl in school enlisted to write these love letters also has a crush on the same popular girl!
This movie is full of so much perfectness. There was the burgeoning friendship between Ellie and Paul. The institutional racism that was so perfectly done and add on the dichotomy between a pretty girl and a smart girl, neither white in a small town. The accidental betrayal and heartbreak. The self discovery and self loathing. The familial dynamics between all 3 major characters were so different yet all somehow the same.
The ending sparked some online debate, some claiming it was queerbaiting. I am queer and I thought it was perfect. Many teens crush on the pretty girl or guy in school because it’s safe. It’s unattainable for the weird smart nerdy kid when really you are hiding more than just your sexuality behind your good grades and immersing yourself in school work… oh wait was that just my personal experience?
This movie has a wonderful friendship developing. It has a queer girl realize that someone was attracted to her personality (even if that someone thought someone else was chatting to them). It has a happy self-discovery about leaving behind what you know and taking a chance on life!
The character growth alone was so well told. But the cinemetography. Swoon. So many gorgeous shots. So many emotions told in images. My two favorite scenes are the mural wall painting quoted in the tweet below, and the hot springs scene. These two beautiful women just being together in just the most gorgeous scene (see tweet below).
Remember this is not a traditional love story…it is about so much more. It is about growth and discovering who you are and what you want to be!
“Love is being willing to ruin your good painting for the chance at a great one.”The Half Of It (2020) Netflix Alice Wu
These first two aren’t LGBTQIA+ but they have the same tropes and themes!
The rest are about LGBTQIA+ teens, self discovery, grief, and love.
Just Another Girlby Elizabeth Eulberg
Published by: Scholastic
on March 28, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
You resent her. You can't stand her. You might even hate her.
But you don't know her at all.
Hope knows there's only one thing coming between her and her longtime crush: his girlfriend, Parker. She has to sit on the sidelines and watch as the perfect girl gets the perfect boy . . . because that's how the universe works, even though it's so completely wrong.
Parker doesn't feel perfect. She knows if everyone knew the truth about her, they'd never be able to get past it. So she keeps quiet. She focuses on making it through the day with her secret safe . . . even as this becomes harder and harder to do. And Hope isn't making it any easier. . . .
In Just Another Girl, Elizabeth Eulberg astutely and affectingly shows us how battle lines get drawn between girls -- and how difficult it then becomes to see or understand the girl standing on the other side of the divide.
You think you have an enemy. But she's just another girl.
We Are the Perfect Girlby Ariel Kaplan
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
on May 21, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
She’s the beauty, I’m the bold one–together, we are the perfect girl…
Aphra Brown is bold and outgoing. Her best friend, Bethany, is achingly beautiful. Individually, they could both do a little better in the self-esteem department, but together? Together, they have what it takes to win over Greg D’Agostino, a proverbial “ten,” who happens to be fluent in six languages–seven if you count the language of smoldering gazes . . .What begins as an honest mistake turns into an elaborate deception, wherein Bethany goes on dates with Greg while Aphra coaches her on what to say, and texts him in the guise of Bethany, trying and failing, all the while, to tamp down her own hopeless crush. It’s only a matter of time before things come crashing down. The question is: What will happen when Greg finds out? And can Aphra and Bethany’s friendship survive the fallout? From the author of We Regret to Inform You comes a witty, warm-hearted exploration of love in all its forms, and a cris-de-coeur for self-acceptance when the pressure to be perfect is overwhelming.
We Used to Be Friendsby Amy Spalding
Published by: Harry N. Abrams
on January 7, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, GLBTQIA+
Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.
Lookby Zan Romanoff
Published by: Dial Books
on March 31, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, GLBTQIA+
Things Lulu Shapiro's 10,000 Flash followers don't know about her: * That the video of her with another girl was never supposed to go public. * That Owen definitely wasn't supposed to break up with her because of it. * That behind the carefully crafted selfies and scenes Lulu projects onto people's screens, her life feels like a terrible, uncertain mess.
Then Lulu meets Cass. Cass isn't interested in looking at Lulu's life, only in living in it. And The Hotel—a gorgeous space with an intriguing, Old Hollywood history and a trust-fund kid to restore it—seems like the perfect, secret place for them to get to know each other. But just because Lulu has stepped out of the spotlight doesn't mean it'll stop following her every move.
It's a story about what you present vs. who you really are, about real intimacy and manufactured intimacy and the blurring of that line. It's a deceptively glamorous, feminist, emotionally complex, utterly compelling, queer coming-of-age novel about falling in love and taking ownership of your own self—your whole self—in the age of social media.
The Grief Keeperby Alexandra Villasante
Published by: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
on June 11, 2019
Genres: Young Adult, GLBTQIA+
Seventeen-year-old Marisol Morales and her little sister Gabi are detainees of the United States government. They were caught crossing the U.S. border, to escape the gang violence in their country after their brother was murdered. When Marisol learns that the old family friend who had offered them refuge in America has died and they are going to be sent home, they flee.
They hitchhike, snagging a ride with an unassuming woman who agrees to drive them to New Jersey, but when Marisol wakes up in D.C. she learns the woman is actually a government agent. Indranie Patel has a proposal for Marisol: she wants Marisol to be a Grief Keeper, someone who will take another's grief into their body. It's a dangerous experimental study, but if Marisol agrees she and Gabi will be allowed to stay in the United States. If the experiment fails the girls will be sent home, which is a death sentence. Things become more complicated when Marisol meets Rey, the wealthy daughter of a D.C. Senator, and the girl she's helping to heal. Marisol likes Rey's short hair and sarcastic attitude. But she didn't expect the connection from their shared grief to erupt into a powerful love.
Suddenly being forced from the United States isn't just a matter of life and death, but a matter of the heart.