A few Fridays ago I had dinner with my lovely adopted family in Arlington and in between brainstorming career paths and swapping travel stories with the parents, hunting for Hello Kitty puzzle pieces, meeting the entire crew of giant-eyed stuffed animals, and keeping tiny feet from knocking over my wine…one of my dreams came true. The seven year old and I got to talking about film (naturally) and we discovered that both of our all-time favorite movies are Frozen and Tangled (I also love Remember the Titans and Silence of the Lambs, but figured we would have less to talk about on those fronts). She told me that she knows every single word to every single Frozen song, but when I asked her to sing she said she was too shy to do it alone. Embracing the most opportune moment I would ever receive, I told her that she was in luck because I, too, happened to know every single word to every single song. And until that night, I had settled for singing them alone in my kitchen.
But then we had a Frozen sing-along and it was glorious. Not only did the movie and hit single “Let It Go” sweep the Golden Globes and Oscars, but the song also changed the entire trajectory of the movie. The film originally kept to the traditional Disney story line, where Anna was a ‘perfect princess’ and Elsa was the villain. But once the producers heard ‘Let It Go’ they felt that the song’s “themes of personal empowerment and self-acceptance were too positive for a villain to express”. And they rewrote the story (which was originally titled ‘The Snow Queen’–a Hans Christian Anderson story) to focus on the complex relationship between two sisters instead of a rather one-dimensional story of a good princess defeating a villain and falling in love with the handsome prince. Enough people have written about how Frozen is the most progressive Disney movie to do date, so I won’t get into that. What I do want to share are these lovely violin covers of ‘Let It Go’ that bring this powerful number to stirring new levels of amazing.
In-keeping with the snowy theme of this post, I also just finished the book Let It Snow (which also rhymes with ‘Let It Go’, in case no one else noticed that), a novel written in sections by three authors that center around three ordinary teenagers whose lives are rocked by a snowstorm and converge fortuitously in a Waffle House. There is also clumsy, unexpected love and a teacup pig involved. So I loved it. A quick preview:
There is always the risk: something is good and good and good and good, and then all at once it gets awkward. All at once, she sees you looking at her, and then she doesn’t want to joke around with you anymore, because she doesn’t want you to seem flirty, because she doesn’t want you to think she likes you. It’s such a disaster, whenever, in the course of human relationships, someone begins to chisel away at the wall of separation between friendship and kissing. Breaking down that wall is the kind of story that might have a happy middle—oh, look, we broke down this wall, I’m going to look at you like a girl and you’re going to look at me like a boy and we’re going to play a fun game called Can I Put My Hand There What About There What About There. And sometimes that happy middle looks so great that you can convince yourself that it’s not the middle, but will last forever…but then again (and here is one of my main complaints about human consciousness): once you think a thought, it is extremely difficult to unthink it. And I had thought ‘the thought’.
A lot of people knock young adult novels, but even though the writing may be simple in structure and the characters are usually in high school, the sentences and messages are often profound and full of wit. I’m on a plane on my way back to Texas for an old friend’s wedding (more to come!) and I suspect that the new book I’m reading, Taliban by Ahmed Rashid, will feature fewer Waffle Houses. Shucks. Parting words from author John Green’s portion of Let It Snow,
“I don’t have a thing for cheerleaders,” I repeated. “But,”’ JP said, “we both have a thing for hot girls who love Twister. That’s not about loving cheerleaders, Duke: that’s about loving freedom and hope and the indomitable American spirit.”