Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Wish list entry #12: "Broken for You"

This will be the last (for a while, at least) of several recent novel suggestions I've suggested could make great adaptations for Meryl. Stephanie Kallos' 's debut 2005 novel, Broken for You seems a tale ripe for a limited series. I say that because it's a reasonably long book, which would give ample story to cover six to eight episodes. 

One of the two main characters is Margaret Hughes, a 70-something wealthy divorcĂ©e living alone in a mansion in Seattle. Spoilers ahead. She's gotten a diagnosis of brain cancer and ends up taking in a boarder, Wanda Schultz, a young woman who's sort of obsessively trying to track down her ex boyfriend. The two develop a friendship which ends up changing them both in profound, but different ways. 

Margaret houses countless expensive antiques, which turn out to be items that were taken from Jewish families during WWII by Margaret's businessman father. Despite her many attempts to locate the owners of all the antiques, she's been unsuccessful, and harbors strong guilt around possessing them. Wanda is employed in the theater and has an artistic background. Events unfold where she ends up making enormous mosaic artworks out of the antique items, which get a lot of attention from the press...mostly very good, some controversial. But it ends up being a way for Wanda to work through the pain of parental and partner abandonment, and for Margaret to somehow do right by the families she's been unable to reach. Fun connection at the end is that Wanda's father, who'd left when she was a child to search for her mother, ends up befriending an old Jewish lady who possessed a small item that was part of an antique set in Margaret's possession. He ends up getting connected with Margaret after his friend dies and leaves the antique to him, and of course, he and Wanda get reunited. 

I thought it was a pretty good book with nicely drawn-out characters. Margaret and Wanda definitely feel like co-leads if they were to be portrayed similarly to the way they were in the book. It may seem a bit "been there done that" when one reads that the would-be Meryl character is suffering from cancer, but I'd argue it's not quite the same way we've seen from her before in the case of One True Thing, for example. I think the people you have around you, what you leave behind, and what secrets or regrets you may have greatly shapes people's experiences and approaches when faced with the real possibility of death. Margaret is in a very different position than Kate Gulden. And while not a mother (anymore--additional background that her son died tragically quite young), the stakes are perhaps higher in her their own, unique way. 

I suppose the story could work as a feature film as well. I just tend to think longer books with a lot of moving parts that span decades of experience are so often better suited for a limited series. The medium is a much more respected and highly-financed option that even fifteen years ago, and it also provides more time for us to enjoy our favorites onscreen. 

We (and Meryl, more importantly) have options out there, people! On this blog I've suggested adaptations of The Testament of Mary, The Buried Giant, Without Blood, The Cypress Club, State of Terror, State of Wonder, Celine, All Adults Here, and Broken for You. A couple have been optioned, non have been casted. With no official news on any upcoming filming projects, how fun would it be if one of her next came from the above list? 

Patiently waiting. 

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