My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’d been hearing a lot about True Grit – not the book, but (obviously, I’m sure) the movie. Before I could get around to seeing the remake, I watched the original John Wayne film for the first time. My parents, who had seen the new movie already, attested that the original movie paled a bit in comparison. They also said that the endings didn’t match up.
A few days later, I was looking at my classroom library and saw a slim volume on the shelves: True Grit itself. I’d really had no idea that it was a book! Curious, I pulled it down and began reading.
The book, written a year before the original movie came into being, was a quick read and had apparently been a staple of the middle school classroom curriculum “back in the day.” I was astonished to see how closely the actress who played Mattie in the original captured Portis’s voice, and/or how well he captured the voice of his stubborn, proper, 14-year-old female narrator.
As I read, I was also mildly astonished at how closely the screenplay followed its source material… up to a point. I won’t go into details, lest I reveal spoilers, but the book and the new film adaptation are much more related than the book and the original film. In fact, from what I gather (I still haven’t seen the original – more about that in a moment) the new film is exceptionally true to the book.
The only thing I’d say against this book, given current circumstances, is that you might as well hold off reading it if you’ve seen the movie recently. It’s so true to the book that you’ll feel like you’re just reading the script – down to the words, down to the descriptions, down to the tone of voice. You’ll be bored silly. But if you haven’t yet seen the film, or if it’s been a while, you’ll likely enjoy this story about a kid – not John Wayne OR Jeff Bridges! – who has “true grit.”