Riding in Cars With Boys by Beverly Donofrio
Weight: 2.4 oz
Method of Disposal: Giving Away or Donating
It was late at night, and I was looking for a movie I could watch online, right away. I came across Riding in Cars with Boys and, as per usual, I thought I had already seen it but figured I would give myself a quick refresher since I could not remember it. I don’t know why I always felt like I had seen the movie and read the book. I know now that I had done neither.
I enjoyed the movie overall. I sympathized with Barrymore’s character and with the character of the son. I did not think the acting was top of the line, but I am not on the Barrymore bashing bandwagon either. I have always liked her. I was invested.
I went to bed thinking about Bev and when I woke up I decided to track the book down. I found it on one of my shelves and started reading. There were so many glaring differences! It is obvious that the people who made the movie felt that they needed to make Bev a more likeable and pitiable character. It was annoying to realize all the changes. In the movie Bev does not smoke marijuana, but she does get busted for it in a last ditch effort to get her family out of the rut they are stuck in. In the book it is her saving grace and even helps her relationship temporarily. She enjoys smoking and does it often. In the movie, she never wanted to be married and was pushed in that direction. In the book, she does fall for it for awhile. She loves Ray—the moron. In the movie, she does not get into college because they are afraid she will not be focused. In the book, the college she attends on a scholarship understands that she will not be able to handle the course load of the other students. I knew the romantic relationship between her child and her best friend’s child was bullshit before I read the book. That would never happen in real life. It goes on and on and on.
It is true that in the book she makes a lot of bad and selfish choices. She is called a bad mother more than once and the reader can see why. She brings strange men into the home where she lives with her son and with her best friend’s daughter on a regular basis. She complains about her son’s existence repeatedly. She leaves him with his junkie father to go out and have fun. They show that she can be a little selfish in the movie but not like that. In the end, though, I can still see that she loves her son, that she was young when she had him and ill-prepared, that they are bonded and have a good relationship. I can see that some of her unusual parenting styles were probably beneficial for her son and some of them were not. She was a young girl who did not have the option of abortion and it changed her whole life. She is brutally honest about her experience and does not hide behind shame. A lot of parents make mistakes and do illegal, risky, problematic things with their children. They are not all so honest about it. Many do not do it as often, but if we did not grow up poor, with a baby as a teenager, who we to say how we would have handled it. I am not convinced I would be better than Bev. I think when all things are said and done she is a good mother who loves her son and had a rocky road to that realization. She is possibly also a little hard on herself and does not mention all the sweet things she did as often as all the risky things. Movie Bev, Book Bev , you both frustrated me, broke my heart, had me fighting for you, had me dreaming with you.
Now, that last line makes it look like I wanted to write a raving review. I give both the movie and the book 3 stars.