YA Novel With Blasian Lead is Getting a Movie...And This Is Important

28.8.15 ShaSha LaPerf 3 Comments

Look at me, making two blog post in the same month! LOL!


So I’m sure some of you have seen this image floating around the Twitter and Tumblr feeds the past year:



Well that’s Nicola Yoon with her family. Nicola Yoon is an avid supporter of #WeNeedDiverseBooks, a movement to get more exposure to writers and stories as well as encourage new writers to write books with diverse characters. This means leads and stories from the eyes of POCs, the LGBT community, different religious, you get the idea. Nicola has recently published a YA novel titled Everything, Everything. the story of a teen Blasian girl who’s so allergic to things she hasn’t left her house all her life. The story follows Madeline a.k.a Maddy, as she becomes interested in a next door neighbor. The book is getting some pretty good reviews.

What’s especially interesting here is that although the novel doesn’t get an official for sale release until September 1st, it's been optioned for a movie adaptation of the film. Right now YA novels are a big thing in Hollywood, with the success of Twilight, Maze Runner, and The Hunger Games. And movies like The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns means there’s room for more than just the dystopic YA world. Now I’ll say these movies and books are hit or miss, but they make a lot of money and they get pretty amazing exposure to the authors and actors.


I was a big reader when I was younger (I’ve somewhat transitioned to reading more comics these days though). There were very few YA novels out there that had POCs as the lead protagonist at the time. Sure The Babysitter’s Club had Jesse and Claudia (and OMG I fucking loved Claudia SO MUCH!!!!!) and RL Stine would pop a Black kid in the Fear Street Series. Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley series would have a POC from time to time too, though sometimes the character stories were a bit cringeworthy. I still read a lot of these books simply because I liked to read and I wanted to read books about people my age, even though I understood I wasn't the target audience despite the ages of the characters being close to mine. 18 Pine Street is the first series I remember with POC characters that I felt I could relate too, but it was very hard to find these books because many stores and libraries didn’t always carry them.

Although we are starting to see more YA novels various genres with POC leads, there’s still a need for the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement. Everything, Everything is important for a few reasons. This is one of the few times we’re seeing a YA novel with a POC lead get a movie adaptation. While Twilight, Maze Runner, and The Hunger Games has some POC characters (though I'm still WTF over those idiots racist reactions towards Rue in THG). A lot of novels written by POC leads have been made, but very rare--hell if at all--we are seeing a novel specifically aimed at a younger demographic getting a movie. And we certainly don't see many with a character of Black and Asian descent. It's important for young people to see themselves in stories in book form and the big screen. Again YA novel-based movies are a big thing and have proven to be successful. It's about time we see an expansion in the stories and the characters. And this could lead to a boost in Nicola's novel sales and hopefully will give an eye to looking at other YA novels with POC leads to adaptation.

Of course the major concern I have is how this will play out as a movie. Nicola wrote Everything, Everything with diversity and her own family in mind. I'm not sure of how big a role Maddy's Blasian heritage will play in the novel. But given that Hollywood still insists on whitewashing characters, the thought of hiring a White actress or White/Asian actress instead of a Black/Asian one is very real. I don't know how much control an author has once their book hits the movie screen. E.L. James seemed to have a lot of control with Fifty Shades of Grey, but Stephen King was not happy with the way The Shining turned out. And Ursula K. Le Guin famously called out Studio Ghibli's Tales of Earthsea for whitewashing the characters she created. Plus let's not forget that book covers are often whitewashed so they can appeal to the mainstream (a.k.a. White readers). I hope Nicola has enough say to make sure a actress of color is hired, specifically one that is of Black/Asian descent. Bustle magazine is suggesting teen Blasian actress Sydney Park for the lead role:

Everything, Everything isn’t out yet and I’m not sure if I’ll get around to reading it since I have a fair amount of books I'm already behind on. :( but I’m very glad to see this is happening. I hope that both the book and movie does well. 

One of the reasons why I majored in English in college was because I was aware of the lack of diversity when it came to books aimed at younger people and I wanted to write stories for them. I have to admit that I'd gotten a bit lazy about it mostly because I shifted my focus to art as I grew older. So it warms my heart to hear of Nicola Yoon's book and the progression of #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Because we are not a monolith, and it's important to see and read stories coming from all kinds of people.

As for my own novel I mentioned earlier, LOL I'm still working on it. :)

For more info:
We Need Diverse Books Twitter
We Need Diverse Books Tumblr
Nicola Yoon Website

3 comments:

  1. The book is friggin adorable. I think the ending is a little off, which some reviews choose to ignore because the story itself is so well written and cute, but it's a very cute book.

    The only thing I would've changed was the cheat trope at the end...

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  3. As the mom of 3 blasian babies, I really really want a blasian actress to get this role!

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