Like any other book to movie adaption, there are countless differences between the two. This one being no exception of course.
The first difference between the two that caught my attention is that in the book, Novalee is not a fan of sevens while in the movie she’s against anything that has to do with fives. Why they made this change in the movie I have no idea but I think it would have had more of an impact in the movie if they would have kept the fear of sevens instead. Especially with her being left by Willie Jack when she was 17 years-old and 7-months pregnant.
How Willie Jack lands his ass in jail in the book is way different than that in the movie as well. In the book there is an entire chapter dedicated to how Willie Jack ran out of gas as he continues his trip West and how he comes across a bar where he meets the girl he decides to pick up and take with him. For the money she has being the only reason really. They did keep the fact that the girl is still underage and making it seem as if Willie Jack had stolen the items from the store though. However, in the movie, Willie Jack actually picks the girl up from the side of the road and never shows him breaking down in the middle of nowhere and going to the bar.
At least one part that they keep the same between the film and the book is that in which Novalee takes pictures of pretty much everything and everyone with the Polaroid camera she has. However, the picture that wins her the Kodak award is vastly different. In the movie, the picture that wins her the award is one she took of her daughter, Americus, after the tornado that destroys everything they have come to call home. In the book, the picture that wins the award is one in which Novalee captures a young boy who is stark naked, running across a hill in the woods as the sun rises behind him.
One of the biggest differences, to me, between the book and the movie is how much Forney is a part of Novalee and Americus’s lives. In the book Forney is always around Novalee, doing pretty much everything with her, coming to read to Americus every night, and voicing his opinion about much of everything. However, in the movie, even though it was made to show that Forney and Novalee become the best of friends, he isn’t shown being around as much as he is in the book. I wish they would have made him a more prominent figure than he was in the movie.
Another huge difference between the two adaptions is the characters. In the book, Novalee and Americus are both blondes, however, in the movie they are both burnets. Then there’s Lexi, the nurse (nurse assistant in the book) that becomes one of Novalee’s dearest friends. In the book she is portrayed as being of Asian-American descent while in the movie she doesn’t look a thing like what she is described to be in the book. We also never get to meet Moses’ wife in the movie even though she had a decent size part within the novel. We also never get to meet Benny in the movie, the one who actually gave her the buckeye tree even though in the movie she is given the tree by Sister Husband.
I was not a fan of how the book ended at all. I’m happy, of course, that Novalee and Forney end up together, however, how she goes about telling him she’s in love with him is completely different than how she tells him in the movie. In the book, after Novalee lies and tells Forney that she doesn’t love him after he says it to her, Forney decides to go and explore the states. Novalee ends up finding him working at a bookstore in Chicago and decides to call him up and tell him that she had lied to him, that she was in fact in love with him. However, in the movie, she goes to drop Willie Jack back in their home state and then she drives to where Forney has returned to finish his college degree and tells him that she loves him face to face. I know that the movie was made years after the book, but it had a sweeter ending than the book did.
Another part that I enjoyed in the movie more so than the book was when Lexi finally meets and marries the guy of her dreams. In the book, the guy she marries turns out to be a nurse but in the movie, he’s an exterminator. The wedding is also different between the two as they have a nice, country shin-dig for a wedding in the movie while in the book they have a quicky wedding in the hospital chapel. I did like how they kept the part of how he ends up having his daughter the same between the two with his ex taking off with his car and leaves him her daughter and the son they have together as she wanted nothing to do with them.
Overall, I think that the movie had a much sweeter and loving portrayal of the story. The book has all the details, some I really wish they would have added to the movie to make it more rounded out, especially when it came to the relationship of Forney and Novalee, but I do think they did a pretty good job with taking the book and making it into the film.