Top positive review
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The book is way better than the movie
on May 15, 2010
I first read this book many years ago when I was in high school and I have to admit, as a romantic teenager (who had not yet come in contact with many of the college experiences portrayed in the book, including drinking binges, wild parties, and one's first red-hot sexual love affair) I didn't really "get it". Picking up the book again several decades and half a lifetime of experiences later, I "get it" better now. As this story appears to be set in the late 50s or very early 60s, Pookie Adams could be the mother (or perhaps the grandmother) of the emo, bespectacled "Ghost World" girls of the 90s and 00's. She ruminates on life and love to an extensive and bizarre degree; she is not conventionally physically beautiful, but with her quirky, forward ways, she still manages to capture the heart of the narrator, a rather ordinary, reserved young man named Jerry. If Pookie was in college today, she'd probably be buying her clothes at thrift stores and listening to indie rock singles while she scribbled her incisive, poetic and sometimes wacky thoughts into a notebook. By the end of the story, when Jerry and Pookie clash based on his obvious pursuit of boring normality - indeed, his lack of intellectualism and staunch pursuit of frat-guy drinking antics seem to make him the Boy Most Likely to Become Babbitt - you're rooting for Pookie all the way and wondering (as she herself does to some extent) what she ever saw in Jerry in the first place. It's clear that falling in love with Pookie was his most creative and outside-the-box action to date and that might be true for his entire life, and that whatever happens, he'll be remembering her for a long, long time.
The book ends on a much more positive note than the film, which takes the strong, vibrant Pookie character and turns her into a lovesick, depressed stalker. I liked the book much better since it's very open-ended. You're free to imagine your own fate for Pookie and Jerry. I liked to think she ran off to San Francisco and probably became a professor of creative writing somewhere.