A&E - Page 8

Local artist paints mural memorializing late L.A. rapper

Rapper Nipsey Hussle is being mourned in the hip-hop community

When the news broke that Nipsey Hussle, an L.A. Grammy-nominated rapper, had been killed, the hip-hop community stood together in its mourning. Hussle was not only a rapper but a serious investor in his community; he sought ways to bring about fundamental social and economic change to the area.

230 miles north of where he was shot, people are paying their respect for him. One such individual is Fresno native and artist Frank Pardo, who painted a wall-sized mural of Hussle.

“I respect him, and I wanted to show my respect since he just passed away.” – Pardo

“I respect him, and I wanted to show my respect since he just passed away,” Pardo said.

Although Pardo didn’t listen to Hussle religiously, he is a fan of hip-hop and knew what Hussle’s death meant to the community, as well as the people he served in Los Angeles.

According to several news outlets in the L.A area, Hussle’s service to the community (aside from his music) included investing in a fish market to increase accessibility of healthier food, being a spokesman to the police department to create dialogue with residents and helping convicted individuals reintegrate into society.

The mural is located next to High City Smoke Shop, near the 99 Highway on Shaw Avenue. Pardo’s friend owns the smoke shop and was the one who suggested to Pardo to paint the mural after Hussle was shot two weeks ago.

The site has become a scene of respect: people from the community have left ornaments, glasses, icons and candles to demonstrate their sense of loss of the rapper. Some people have gathered here, both in an organized way and informally, to take a moment to honor Hussle.

The idea for this piece was to commemorate the rapper in the clouds, inspired by the recent nature of his death. He looks down to Earth with his eyes closed. “It almost looks like he’s praying,” Pardo said.

Pardo plans on adding to this mural. He recently included one of Hussle’s song lyrics: “This the remedy, the separation, 2Pac of my generation”. In addition, he would like to add more clouds in the section of the mural filled with empty blue sky.

Pardo got interested in painting murals in high school, getting his start in tagging. From there he honed his skill by painting things which interested him. Over time, portraits became his speciality. Pardo has painted other murals around Fresno, including a “Rick and Morty” mural in Tower District and a “Grinch” mural near Fresno High School. According to him, this Nipsey Hussle mural is one of his best works.

Pardo hopes that the art he produces brings some sense of joy or inspiration to its viewers. “As long as it makes them feel good, it makes me feel good. I guess that’s part of why I still do it. Maybe it inspires other people, like, they think ‘maybe I can do something like that too’,” Pardo said.

Pardo runs a paint stylist business called “Above Par Designs”,which specializes in designing store logos, signs and customizable items.

Some female artists contribute to their own objectification

Oversexualization of women in the music industry

In an industry where women make up only 28 percent of the publishing and record label workforce, female artists often struggle to gain credibility and success. When the growing fantasy of a hyper-sexualized world is thrown in the mix, it’s no surprise that women are often portrayed as objects rather than people. In today’s society, most women are expected to rely on their appearance to be successful. Most of the pressures that they face come from the male-dominated nature of the industry; however, some prominent female artists are doing more harm than good in combating these issues.

From Miley Cyrus to Nicki Minaj, some number of women have willingly put their bodies on display to capture their audiences’ attention. One female artist who’s rapid rise to fame is due in part to her sexualized image is Cardi B. To be fair, Cardi had a sexualized image before she started producing music. It wasn’t just a byproduct of the pressure experienced within the industry.

We should be concerned about the example it sets

Cardi B has embraced her image and claims that she uses it to empower women. Despite her supposedly good intentions, her actions may be contributing to a bigger issue: that of women being viewed and treated as objects.

On March 1st, Cardi B released the new music video for her song “Please Me” with Bruno Mars. Given the title of the song, it’s unsurprising that the lyrics, outfits and choreography are highly explicit. In fact, that is the most concerning thing about this video: none of it is surprising. We expect to see barely-clothed women dancing atop men. We expect to hear lyrics about sex and the desire to be pleased by others. All of this is becoming the new norm, and that’s something women need to be cautious of.

From the video’s beginning to its ending, there are a few differences between the way men and women are portrayed that raise red flags. The first and most obvious is the manner in which Cardi and Bruno are dressed. Cardi has a skin tight and skimpy leather outfit on, and is wearing ripped fishnet tights. Bruno, however, is completely covered with jeans and a button up shirt.

The choreography presents another issue. The way Cardi and her backup dancers move their bodies is incredibly sexual, especially when viewed in the context of the lyrics. The way Bruno Mars and the other men dance is nowhere near as raunchy. Even the album art shows Bruno looking down at Cardi in a way that gives off a feeling of objectification.

The message that such imagery sends is unsettling, and we should be concerned about the example it sets for young people. Seeing women portrayed in an oversexualized way can lead young men to feel as though they are able to treat them as objects for their own pleasure. Sexual objectification is not only harmful because it hinders serious female artists in the music industry, but it may also lead women to develop health-related issues such as poor body image, depression, eating disorders and substance abuse.

It’s important to promote body positivity and non-conformity to the society’s vain expectations. Women should be able to feel pride in their bodies. But if a female artist, in an attempt to criticize the way the music industry oversexualizes women, instead objectifies herself, is there anything good being accomplished? Such hypocrisy can discredit other female artists who genuinely seek to combat this problem.

Annual Janzen writer series brings Mennonite poet to FPU

Todd Davis to speak on the gift of nature

Beginning in 2007 local poet Jean Janzen and her late husband, Dr. Louis Janzen, began the Jean and Louis Janzen Endowed Writer Series by donating a sum of money that they had received from selling inherited farm land to Fresno Pacific University, as a way to bring poetry to students and hopefully expose them to the art for the first time; this was all done in the hopes of instilling a respect for it in their young minds. Prior to their efforts, there has been no outlet of public speaking, much less poetry reading, available for students. The money was used as an endowment for the new poetry series and has since collected interest over the years, allowing for it to become a thriving cultural event on campus.

Originally it was focused entirely on Christian writers; however, Janzen decided to redefine it as being about “excellent” writers, so that the scope of those who could be invited to speak was not limited to those with Christian roots. Coincidentally, each writer has been Christian (and most of them, to be specific, Mennonite) anyway.

English program director and Humanities Division chair Eleanor Nickel, Ph.D., joined the leadership of the program in 2012. She approved that most of the writers and poets coming to speak at the event were Mennonite, for good reason.

“I feel like most students here have no idea who the Mennonites are,” said Nickel, “I really continued with the Mennonite writer idea because it’s something that students aren’t really exposed to around here.”

Todd Davis, speaker at the upcoming Janzen writer series

Nickel explained that something fascinating about the event is the audience: half of it consists of the students and faculty, while the other is made up of the local Mennonite community, who know the Janzens and return year after year to show support. The event is advertised all over town, especially in the bulletins at Mennonite churches.

In the organization and preparation of each event, Nickel meets with Janzen to choose which writer will speak. Janzen, having known many Mennonite writers and poets throughout the community during her involvement, has many connections to potential spokespersons for the event; however, Nickel tries her best to find a specific type of poet.

“I try to pick people that are accessible to freshmen,” said Nickel, “I don’t want people to come to this poetry event and not understand it, and have a reinforced stance of ‘I don’t get poetry’ or ‘I hate poetry’.”

She went on to explain that the negotiation comes down to finding someone who can be understood by a wide variety of audiences. She is in charge of getting in touch with the speaker, making travel arrangements and hosting a dinner for  both the Humanities faculty and the writer at Janzen’s home.

“She has this incredible, huge and beautiful house,” said Nickel, “however, this year will be the last dinner at her house, because she is selling it and moving to a retirement village.”

This being the last year of the dinner being hosted at Janzen’s home already makes it a monumental year for the Humanities staff and the writer series; this holds true especially for Todd Davis, the Penn State Altoona professor they have chosen as special guest this year. Deciding on a more eccentric topic, Nickel has big hopes for what he has to share with those who attend.

“Todd is actually a convert to Mennonitism,” said Nickel, “He didn’t grow up Mennonite, so he is going to speak about why he became a Mennonite.”

Surely this will be a treat to the attendees of the event, as Nickel has previously expressed her desire to educate the FPU community on Mennonitism – the topic Davis chose satisfies both this desire, and her wish to introduce students to the art of poetry. He will also speak on his deep appreciation and love of nature and the wilderness. He lives in Pennsylvania, and oftentimes spends most days in the “wood” and on the “steams,” even if only for an hour or two.

“My poems grow out of my love for the Earth, my reverence for all the species with whom we share the planet,” said Davis, “I know how fragile this place is- I write as a way to say we must be careful not to lose this gift.”

Davis further explained that he loves to visit other colleges and universities, as a way of meeting new people and talking with students and faculty about “the literary arts, about environmental issues, about how spiritual matters are often behind the arts and our relationship to the earth”.

Davis leaves us with this parting note: “Too many people are scared of poetry; they think it’s a puzzle that’s difficult to figure out. I don’t want anyone to be scared away by the fact this will be a poetry reading. My poems tell stories. My poems are accessible and fairly plain spoken.”

Davis’ time in  the Jean & Louis Janzen Visiting Writer Series will take place on January 31, and will be held in North Hall 123 (the Seminary Chapel).

“The Hate U Give” does not sugar coat police brutality

Movie sparks conversation about the realities of being an African-American in current society

Focused on an African American teen as she struggles with her identity, crosses cultural boundaries and faces the loss of a friend to a police officer, “The Hate U Give” shows the realities of systematic racism. In a time where diversity is a hot-button topic, “The Hate U Give” portrays a riveting yet heartbreaking representation of the realities many African Americans face in current society.

This isn’t a relaxing movie by any means; certain scenes may trigger intense emotion or anxiety. These emotions, however, are important. The topics of police brutality and discrimination are never what anyone wants to hear about, let alone to visually observe in a movie. But this film serves as a harsh reminder of what so many African Americans face. Although it is fairly graphic in some scenes, especially when the police brutality is exemplified, I believe that this was a purposeful move by the directors. The topic of police brutality has become so overlooked and generalized that those of us who have never experienced it have no idea what it actually looks like.

As for the cast, Amandla Stenburg (Starr Carter) could not have been more perfectly cast for her role. Known most popularly for her previous roles in The Hunger Games (Rue) and Everything Everything (Maddy), Stenburg is now gaining critical acclaim for her part in this film. She played Starr effortlessly, and although she has less experience than most big-screen actors she showed no on-screen awkwardness and seemed to really connect with the character.

KG Opa (Chris) and Sabrina Carpenter (Hailey) also played well as the characters who are somewhat unaware of their white privilege. However, Carpenter’s portrayal of Hailey seemed awkward, forced and overall like she was trying too hard to portray the “privileged white girl” stereotype. Since her role is (somewhat) significant in exemplifying unintentional racism and privilege, her lack of on-screen comfort made key scenes in the film feel cringe-worthy and disconnected.

Russell Hornsby (Maverick) and Regina Hall (Lisa) could not have been a more perfect selection to fill the roles of Starr’s parents. They showed amazing on-screen chemistry, serving as two characters who are able to lighten the mood while also addressing the larger, more difficult topics (like Starr struggling to find her voice as a witness).

“The Hate U Give” is one of the few movies of its kind where police brutality and the oppression of African Americans in current society is portrayed.

“The Hate U Give” is one of the few movies of its kind where police brutality and the oppression of African Americans in current society is portrayed. What this film delivers is something many people try to ignore, instead choosing to believe that certain oppressions are no longer relevant. It serves as a gruesome reminder, however, that these issues are ever-prevalent in our society.

FPU symphonic band invited to music conference in Seattle

The band premieres piece at the Western International Band Clinic

The FPU Concert Band performed at their Send-off concert in the middle of November, before they officially departed to Seattle for the Western International Band Clinic. Our symphonic band was among just four bands invited to perform, and was the only one from California.

The conference takes place throughout the Western seaboards of Canada and the U.S., and is mostly made up of music teachers of many academic levels and college students who are involved in music.

“It’s been something that we have been working towards for the last five years since we started this band program,” Erik Leung, Band Director, said.

When the band program first started less than 30 students were involved, a few of which were first-time players barely learning their instruments. The program didn’t even have its own designated rehearsal space on campus.

“A lot of it in the beginning was just teaching people how to play,” Leung said.

Over the course of five years, the program underwent intense rehearsal and practice, making it to music festivals in Chicago and achieving other worthy accomplishments along the way.

“There was no band program before me,” Dakota Botton said. “If you would’ve asked us when this band first started if we’d be able to be here, we would have laughed in your face.”

For newer students, the progression made over the past few years has been impressive. “When I heard that they had a band I was surprised, because this is such a small school… It is amazing how much it has grown,” Jasmine Mozqueda said.

Everyone involved was grateful to be given the opportunity to attend the Seattle conference, and they hope that it will both put FPU on the map and give the students a route to more opportunities in the field of music.

“In music, it’s kind of about who you know that gets you a job. Being able to put stuff like this on my resume, I know I get a boost,” Rachel Garbutt said.

In terms of their set, a junior high piece was included for junior high level audiences. “Rhapsody in Blue” was also performed featuring Walter Saul on the piano. The band was also able to premiere “Ash” by Jennifer Jolley, which has never been played before.

“It has really been a journey to be the first interpretation of this music,” Leung said.

“Ash” was inspired by Fresno, and its reputation as the ash grove. When Jolley was a young girl growing up in southern California, she saw a forest fire approaching her house. In the piece, she recollects the sight of ash falling from the sky, claiming she wanted to musically capture that magical, yet frightening, memory.

While the Western International Band Clinic has proven to be a big gig for the symphonic band, they still have kept their eyes on what’s next; they have hinted at a possible “concert on the Green” next semester, which would feature performances of popular film scores and maybe even tracks from video games.

“We are such a great team,” Leung said. “We’ve always had really great students throughout the years, who have believed in what we’re doing. Through sheer force of will from all of us, we have been able to make things happen.” The conference invitation hasn’t just provided opportunity, but it has boosted their drive.

***Correction Note: In the print version of this article “Rhapsody in Blue” was incorrectly referred to as a junior high piece during the copy editing process.

FPU’s theater production of “Falling” inspires to love unconditionally

Show depicts the dedication of a family despite complicated realities of having a child with autism

The theater program is about to debut their first fall production: “Falling”, an emotional story about autism and unconditional love. It will be sure to tug on the heartstrings of audience members as it depicts the complicated relationship between a mother and her autistic child.


Tyler Miller, theater faculty,  opens up about the impact students are making in this program, through this production. “My students here have been working extremely hard in ways they are not traditionally asked to do. It’s a lot more creative, and I have them thinking in a new and different way. I want them to be in the moment and theater is all about being in the present,” Miller said.

The hard work at this play can be attributed to both the dedication of the students and the stage director Shannon Brewington, who has given the students a space to both perform and grow as individuals.

Regarding the upcoming play, she states how she appreciated the way the author portrayed a family dealing with a son suffering from severe to low functioning autism, giving a reason to care for people who are difficult to love.

According to Brewington, “a lot of people can sympathize, but it’s really hard to empathize with families who deal with this struggle, so hopefully we can bring that perspective.” The whole family struggles together, and this play reveals the universal truths of challenged parents in such circumstances.

This is the first time that an FPU play has featured a disabled character. As this is their first play concerning autism, Shannon has hopes of building a bridge into the community to bring forth families who have similar struggles.

The theater program has reached out to the Central California Autism Center by giving them flyers, in the hopes of bringing in an audience who can relate to the unwavering compassion it takes for a parent to love unconditionally.

Kathryn Fleener plays the role of Tami, the mother, and she states that the biggest obstacle in playing this role has been trying to understand what it means to be a mother who is forced to let go of the hopes and dreams she has for her child. This specific character challenges Kathryn as an actor because she hasn’t experienced what it means to have a child of her own, and then how to deal with such a child diagnosed with autism.

Kathryn describes her understanding of this role, saying: “I’ve tried to use my own experiences with some of my extended family members on the spectrum as inspiration for understanding what it means to deal with something like autism every minute, of every day, for the rest of your life.”

This play will leave you walking away with a heart full of compassion, and a different perspective about what goes on in the daily lives of families with a child who suffers from autism.

Shannon Brewington, Tyler Miller and Kathryn Fleener highly encourage students to audition for the next spring play! Tyler Miller would like for students to know that “the upcoming spring show is going to be Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’, and we want everyone to come audition for that. Even if you are not in the theater program or a theater major, we encourage you to come audition”. College is an amazing time to break out of your shell and try something new.

Q&A: FPU alumn publishes Christian romance novel

Get to know Sarah Beth Williams

Sarah Beth Williams is an FPU alumnus and former staff writer and editor for the Syrinx. Williams released her first novel, “When Hearts Collide”, on September and shares that the FPU experience helped her find inspiration for her novel. After graduating from FPU Williams returned to her hometown of Sacramento, California, where she now lives with her husband and two daughters. When she’s not focused on writing, she enjoys teaching children, playing guitar, reading and spending time with her family. “When Hearts Collide” is available for purchase on Amazon www.amazon.com/author/sarabethwilliams

How would you describe When Hearts Collide?
When Hearts Collide is a contemporary Christian romance about second chances, redemption and forgiveness. When a young ex-con discovers that his past is connected to the woman he’s falling in love with, he grapples with the decision of whether to break her heart with the knowledge of who he is or live a lie.

When did you discover your love for writing, and when did you decide to write a book?
I’ve loved writing from a young age. I wrote a lot of story drafts and poetry in high school. In 2004, I had begun sketching the early beginnings of what would become When Hearts Collide, but I didn’t know which genre I wanted to pursue. In 2007, while attending FPU, my flash drive with all of my writing on it burned out, erasing everything. That left me discouraged, so I focused on other things for a while. In 2013, I began to read a lot of Christian fiction and fell in love with all of it. That’s when I began to research what it takes to become published.

How did FPU inspire portions of your book?
The overall campus life of students, both academic and recreational, and the freedoms that college students experience as young adults, the living situations, those kinds of things influenced my story. One of the main settings in the story is a coffee shop, much like the coffee shop on campus at FPU when I attended.

What has the process of publishing a book been like for you?
It’s been a long process. It took 3 and a half years, 4 written rejection e-mails and a handful of ‘no replies’ before someone finally read through my manuscript and offered me a book contract. I debated whether or not to self-publish and I’m glad I waited to seek traditional publishing.  My goal was to produce high-quality Christian fiction to show the world that Christian fiction isn’t lame, bland or boring, so I was glad to endure a thorough editing process.

What was your major when you were a student at FPU?
I graduated with a Liberal Studies/elementary education major, with an emphasis in theater. I wanted to do a full theater major but they didn’t have one at that time.

You were a previous editor and staff writer for The Syrinx, what is something you remember about your experience?
I’d written a lot of poetry and fiction beforehand, so it was different to learn how to write for a newspaper. It was a new challenge and I picked it up quickly. As I said, I lost all my writing projects, so I wanted that new challenge. I made good friends and found a place where I could contribute my ideas and use my talents in a worth-while manner.

What was your favorite part about being a student at FPU?
I like the small-school atmosphere. I enjoyed intramurals. There is probably double the number of student attendance now, but it’s still relatively small compared to other universities. Things I enjoyed: helping backstage during Fiddler on the Roof; the game room; playing soccer and this ninja game on the Green at midnight; playing Mennonite Madness; playing on this gigantic teeter-totter. Some of you reading might not get any of those references. It’s been a while since I’ve graduated.

Did you have a favorite professor or class while a student at FPU?
There were so many fun classes and professors. It’s been a while but the ones that stand out are my theater classes.

Do you have any advice for students looking to become writers/publish their own works?
Research everything. Christian writing contests, writing conferences, agents, editors, publishers, Christian authors IN your genre. I cannot stress this enough. That means you need to decide on a genre. What stories are being written and sold? Which ones are popular? What authors do other people love? Why do they love those authors? What makes those authors so great? What stories are not being told that you want to tell? It takes a while to find your own voice. Majoring in English isn’t a must, but it’s a strong step to take. I’d go back and major in English if I could. Lastly, read a LOT in the genre you want to write in.

What do you want students to take away from When Hearts Collide?
This is a story about forgiveness and how it is possible, even under the most difficult circumstances. It’s also a story about second chances, not just in romance, but in life in general.

FPU professor featured at the Fig Tree Gallery

Chris Janzen’s work focuses specifically on human experience

FPU’s very own Chris Janzen is set to be featured at the Fig Tree Gallery for the entire month of October. The Fig Tree Gallery is considered a prestigious opportunity for local artists in the Central Valley. However, for Janzen, this is nothing new.

“This will be the fourth show that I’ve had at the Fig Tree Gallery,” Janzen said.

Although he has been featured previously, this particular body of work is different from anything Janzen has created before.

“I never know what’s going to come in the end product, but the source material has changed over the course of 10 years since grad school… My perspective and the stuff I’m encountering is different,” Janzen said.

Specifically, Janzen’s experience as a parent of two daughters has given him a new outlook on his material.

“As an artist I think that’s what all of us are doing all the time, we’re trying to remember how to be kids again, and try to remember that whatever that random thing is that’s sitting in your studio might be designed to be used one way, but you can use it in a completely different way,” Janzen said.

“As an artist I think that’s what all of us are doing all the time, we’re trying to remember how to be kids again . . .”

This ties into the overarching theme of the exhibit: human experience and the nuances of people’s day-to-day lives. In his mixed-media oil-painting entitled “Sick Kid”, Janzen depicts the “fevered-dream state”  of his eldest daughter who suffered a high fever over the summer.

“Each artwork is simultaneously a meditation on personal daily experience and a way of addressing the challenges we all face as members of society. The paintings and drawings contain symbolic subjects representing thoughts, joys, fears, experiences and experiments from my daily life as a means of seeking truth in unexpected ways,” Janzen said.

Outside of portraying real life experiences, Janzen also hopes to present art that is a “fun and exciting visual representations”.

For student artists at FPU, seeing a professor with such accomplishments in the community is encouraging. Carolee Rowe, a current student in Janzen’s sculpture class, says: “I think that any student who is interested in taking art here should be excited to learn from someone who’s established in the community and does regular art shows and is an actual working artist.”

Even students who are not taking classes from Janzen are excited about the progression he’s making as an artist. Alexis Lopez says: “I feel that seeing a professor reach out into the community is not only a good representation of our campus, but also something worthwhile and awesome.”

Janzen’s exhibit will be at the Fig Tree Gallery until the closing ceremony on October 27.

Marcos Dorado’s “Immigrant Me” exhibit installed on campus

Dorado hopes to captivate students with a positive depiction of immigrants

The first day of school brought many new changes for students; among them was the artwork lining the walls inside McDonald Hall. Marcos Dorado’s recent exhibit, entitled “Immigrant Me”, contains compelling pencil-drawn por­traits.

These portraits highlight the sto­ries of immigrants from various coun­tries. On his blog, Dorado spoke about his project.: “I share the personal stories of those who came to this country,” he writes, “You’ll find out how immigrants arrived, what made them come, how they’ve adjusted and how they identify as new Americans, among other details that make up the rich immigrant story of this county.”

Although the title of the exhibit may appear relatively simple, its meaning is three-fold and holds a greater purpose. “I am an immigrant and growing up I was terrified of people knowing that now I am proud of who I am, and I want to promote my immigrant story. The title ‘Immigrant Me’ also describes every single person who models for the project and when the reader reads the title it puts them in first person as if they were the immigrant. They have to say ‘Immigrant Me’ even if they are not an immigrant,” Dorado said.

In a time where immigration is a hot topic, and is oftentimes portrayed in a negative light, Dorado hopes to bring positivity. “What I can do, as an artist, is speak the language of art and convey these stories and convey this positivism that is not always portrayed by the media,” Dorado said.

Chris Janzen, the assistant professor of art, who is a close personal friend and supporter of Dorado’s work, was key in getting the exhibit installed on campus and hopes it will have an impact on students. “[Marcos’ work] allows us to think about a relevant, contemporary, social issue and it does so in a really pro­ductive, constructive way,” Janzen said.

“What I can do, as an artist, is speak the language of art and convey these stories and convey this positivism that is not always portrayed by the media.”

Even after the exhibit has conclud­ed, Dorado wants to make sure that the stories of immigrants from all over the country continue to be told. It is for this reason that he has decided to begin releasing photographs on his blog. Be­cause the photographs are less time con­suming to produce, Dorado is hoping to release new photographs and stories more often. Melinda Salerno, Dorado’s close friend and one of the models for the next section of the project, says that it has been a great honor and is very important to her. “All of us came from somewhere, we need to spread more positive news about all immigrants,” Salerno said.

Dorado will be on campus giving a speech to students on September 18th, at 12:40 pm, and encourages students to stop by. He will be answering questions and talking to students after his speech.

To all the rom-coms we’ve loved before

We still can’t get enough!

After the 2014 novel “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”, written by Jenny Han, garnered critical acclaim, the beloved young adult fiction book scored a deal with Netflix to hit the big screen.

Fans of the book quickly flocked to Netflix, and within 24 hours the movie was rated at 5 stars and was quickly becoming a hot topic on social media platforms, getting rave reviews from critics.

Both Lana Condor (Lara Jean) and Noah Centineo (Peter Kavinsky) effortlessly filled their roles and had amazing chemistry on screen. From their butterfly-in-the-stomach small talks to their steamy hot-tub scene, Lana and Noah won the hearts of fans and became their new OTP.

However, some of the smaller roles had some hiccups and on-screen awkwardness towards the beginning of the movie. Specifically, “Pretty Little Liars”’ Janel Parrish (Margot), and Anna Cathcart’s (Kitty) performances felt forced and awkward. Thankfully this dissipated about 20 minutes into the film.

The movie falls into another generic teeny-bopper high school rom-com, but there’s something different about this Susan Johnson adaptation than other movies in this category. The movie perfectly encapsulates the relationship between siblings, but also the relationship between a single parent and their child. It portrays a very realistic coming-of-age story where Lara Jean fights with her inner desire to be invisible, but also her desire to be heard and a part of the crowd.

Because of this, the movie does not have any flat plotlines or surface-level character tropes. These are real life things that happen to people during their high school journeys, even if their personal letters don’t get sent out to their hardcore crushes. And all of these facets of life can intersect and affect how a person approaches the complexities of the high school hierarchy.

Even though the movie slightly differs from the book, the changes were made so gracefully that readers and new fans alike thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Even though the changes were noticeable (especially for avid readers of the book), they smoothly fit into the film and added a new comedic edge that was more fitting for a cinematic interpretation of the novel.

If you’re looking for a getaway to take the edge off an already stressful semester, “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” is the perfect binge-worthy flashback to the golden days of highschool when things were a lot more simple and innocent.

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