It’s that time again! That’s right, it’s time to talk about the differences between the book and movie for the recent adaptation of Our Chemical Hearts.
In an interview, author Krystal Sutherland mentioned how the movie really focuses in on the two main characters, Henry and Grace. This assessment is very true and the main difference between the book and movie. In the book, there’s a fairly large cast of characters—Henry’s parents, his sister, his nephew, his two best friends, and a few of their friends. The movie narrows this down to just his parents, older sister, and two best friends—who are all not as complex as they were in the book. Henry’s sister is still going through a divorce, but she doesn’t have a son and her character wasn’t the rebellious version she is in the book. His parents are present, but the end of the book revealed that their marriage wasn’t the perfect relationship Henry had been led to believe all these years and they announce a divorce (this doesn’t happen in the movie). With his friends, Muz isn’t Australian nor obsessed with his ex-girlfriend, and La doesn’t live next door and is actively interested in a girl instead of already having a girlfriend. And then of course many of the other minor characters were just missing.
What the movie does well is portraying Grace and her grief. This stayed true to the book, and you can see how Henry wants to fix what he think is broken about Grace. By focusing on their relationship, the consuming nature that Henry fell into in the book comes through. Although, in the book, Henry really let this take over him and he missed homework assignments as well as newspaper deadlines, which did not happen in the book. The newspaper theme was also established early in the book—and not put-off until the last minute.
While most of the main scenes (especially the emotional ones) make it from the book to the movie, quite a few of them seemed to be out of order. The timeline also changes as the book takes place through the fall while the movie ends on the last day of school. But the story is still coherent even though the scene order was rearranged. For example, Grace and Henry were together in the book before the Halloween party and Henry desperately wanted someone to catch them together there to make their relationship “real.” In the movie, they get together during/after the Halloween party—but in both they end up in Henry’s room after the party.
Overall, Chemical Hearts stayed true to the themes within the book, and Lili Reinhart and Austin Abrams did a good job portraying the main characters Grace and Henry.