In honor of today's release of Before I Fall, a dark drama based off the Lauren Oliver novel of the same name, we're celebrating some of the most iconic teen movies to come from YA books.
Let’s be honest: Life will never be as dramatic it was in high school, when day-to-day routine is governed more by emotions than by responsibility. It also will probably never be as tumultuous or as awful or as exciting. It’s no surprise, then, that YA books are so fun to read. These novels capture the sound and the fury of high school hallways with real, relatable, and compelling stories.
Great movie adaptations have to work with great source material. So, some of the most stirring movies about adolescence — movies that explore more than just wild parties, say — are based off of YA novels.
Before I Fall (2017)
You can catch this movie, an adaptation of Lauren Oliver's best-selling novel, while it's fresh. Premiering March 3, Before I Fall
follows in the footsteps of YA movies like The Perks of Being a Wallflower
and The Fault In Our Stars
by refusing the shy away from life's more pressing questions.
Sam and her three best friends are the coolest girls in their high school, and they're not afraid to admit it
. In fact, they wear their popularity like a badge of meanness. The movie opens on Cupid Day, the Friday Valentine's roses are handed out — a.k.a. the best day of the year for popular girls. But after a disastrous party and confrontation with the girl they've been bullying relentlessly for years, Sam and her friends get in a car crash on the rainy roads. Sam wakes up trapped in a Groundhog Day
-esque loop of Cupid Day.
To escape, Sam has to rethink the way she lives her Cupid Day — and her whole life.
13 Reasons Why (2017)
Okay, you got us — this is technically a series, not a movie. But that means double the fun, right? This show, coming to Netflix on March 31
, is based on the novel by Jay Asher of the same title.
When 13 Reasons Why
opens, Clay Jensen has just come home to a mysterious box placed on his bed. Within the box he finds 13 cassettes, each recorded by his friend and crush Hannah Baker, who had committed suicide two weeks ago. Each cassette denotes one of the reasons that led to her decision to take her life. Will Clay be one of them?
The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (2012)
Turns out that jocks aren't the only potential protagonists of high school movies. For its endearing characters and brave discussion of depression, the novel by Stephen Chbosky quickly became one of the most beloved YA books of all time
. The critically acclaimed movie was lauded for translating the book's successes onto the screen.
Awkward and introverted freshman Charlie is still reeling from the suicide of his friend, Michael, when the film kicks off. Recently discharged from a mental health unit, he finds adjusting to high school particularly challenging. But in a manifestation of every freshman's dream, two larger-than-life seniors take him under their wing and show him the ways of the world. The movie's aura of sadness makes its moments of triumph even more meaningful.
The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants (2005)
From romance under the Santorini sun to soccer camp in Mexico, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
will make you yearn for your bygone summer vacations. While there are flings and fiestas galore, the real glue of the movie
comes in the four leads themselves. Catch Amber Tamblyn, America Ferrera, Blake Lively, and Alexis Bledel just as they're on the cusp of stardom
And to settle the debate as to whether the film's center premise that one
pair of jeans can fit four
different bodies is actually feasible: in the magical universe of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
it's totally feasible, and that's all that matters. Thank you, Ann Brashares, for giving the world this magical pair of pants.
The Princess Diaries (2001)
Before Anne Hathaway won an Oscar
— and before she hosted
the Oscars — she played the American version of Kate Middleton in The Princess Diaries
, a movie based on Meg Cabot's book of the same name
Mia Thermopolis (Hathaway) is a witty, sarcastic, curly-haired high schooler who lives with her free-spirited mother in an artsy loft in San Francisco. Struggling with unrequited love and normal teenage boredom, her life is far from that of a princess'. So you can imagine how surprised Mia is to find out that her estranged father is actually heir to the throne of Genovia, a made-up country in Europe. When her father unexpectedly dies, Mia is called upon by her grandmother (Julie Andrews) to assume the throne. But before she can become queen, her grandmother has to instill the ways of royalty within our spunky heroine.
While this movie never gets old, don't forget rule number one of The Princess Diaries
: thou shalt not discuss the sequel.
A long, long, long time ago, Shia LaBeouf was a Disney star, not a man who lives his life like an avant-garde art piece. While his role as Louis on Even Stevens was golden, it pales in comparison to the glory that was Holes, this film based on a Louis Sacher book of the same name. Seriously — this film introduced an entire generation to the twist-ending.
In the movie, LaBeouf plays Stanley Yelnats IV, a good kid who's unfortunately inherited the family curse of unluckiness, all because of his "no good, dirty rotten, pig stealing grandfather." After Stanley is falsely convicted of stealing a pair of sneakers, he's shipped off to volunteer at Camp Green Lake instead of serving jail time. Camp Green Lake is like the seventh circle of Hell, if the seventh circle of Hell entails endlessly digging holes. What are the prisoners digging for? Why is Stanley's family cursed? And what's the whole plot line involving Jon Voight, who plays the prison warden, who is actually Angelina Jolie's father?
You've probably forgotten the answers to all of these questions since you last saw the Disney classic, so dig in!
The Fault In Our Stars (2014)
We'd be happy to tell you the plot of The Fault in Our Stars
, but we're busy crying
In all seriousness, don't attempt to watch this drama, based off a John Green book of the same name, without buying a box of tissues. Shailene Woodley plays Hazel Grace Lancaster, a stoic 16-year-old living with a fatal form of cancer. Encouraged by her parents, Hazel reluctantly goes to a support group. There, she meets and falls in love with the dashing Augustus Waters, former basketball player and amputee. His cancer is in remission, hers isn't, and so begins the only love affair that's made us cry more than Jack and Rose's.
Here's a controversial thesis for you: The Fault In Our Stars
shows that YA novels and their film offshoots can sometimes broach the quandaries at the heart of human existence with greater heart and grace than their jaded adult counterparts can.
Paper Towns (2015)Thank you, John Green
, for producing some of the most compelling stories in the entire YA genre. No need for tissues, either. This John Green spin-off is notably less tear-jerking than its counterpart, The Fault in Our Stars.
In high school, there is no motivation more powerful than the pursuit of one's crush. So, when Quentin "Q" Jacobson's longtime crush and forever neighbor, Margo Spiegelman, suddenly disappears, Q has no choice but to drop everything and follow her trail. Ever the manic pixie dream girl, Margo loves mysteries so much that she decides to become one. She leaves a trail of mysterious, elaborate clues for Q to reach by a restricted time limit.
In a coming-of-age meets road-trip movie, Q and his quick-witted friends pile into the car to solve the Margo enigma, and give Q a chance at love.
The Book Thief (2013)
Markus Zusak's novel The Book Thief was technically marketed as YA, but it's one of those books that everyone should read. The same goes for the film, which pretty much reduces people into a quivering blob of tears.
The period drama is about a young girl name Liesel Meminger growing up in WWII-era Germany with her adopted parents. Rebellious and intelligent, Liesel sates her intellectual curiosity by stealing books from the Nazi book burnings. But Liesel only realizes the true stakes of the war after her parents reveal that they've been hiding a young Jewish man in the basement. When Max becomes sick, she brings books to the basement to read to him. She weaves a magical world to inspire the adults in her household, but even the best of stories can't block out the horrors of the outside world.
The last twist? In an inventive structural conceit, both the novel and the film are narrated by Death itself.
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)
The real dream of a suburban high schooler? For something — anything! — interesting to happen to them.
Well, when Nick and Norah open themselves up to spontaneity, spontaneity smiles back. Based on the novel of the same name by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
, this movie takes place over the course of one wild night shared by two strangers. By the end of their Manhattan all-nighter, Nick and Norah have a relationship formed by the fast flames of intimacy. Michael Cera and Kat Dennings live out a New York romance that's only possible if you still believe in high school love — and they made believers of us.