Hick – Written by Andrea Portes
Hick is the debut novel of Andrea Portes. Kicking off in Palmyra, Nebraska, this story follows 13-year-old Luli McMullen, a runaway with ambitions to make her big break in Las Vegas. Luli is raised in a household where she isn’t cared much about, having two alcoholic parents who don’t get along much. Since Luli is our narrator, she explains how dismal and bored she is of her hometown, anxious to escape. The first thing I noticed about Luli was her transcendence between youth and adulthood. At points in her storytelling, it is very obvious that Luli is an inexperienced and vulnerable 13-year-old girl with an imagination that runs wild but, at other times, it is almost astonishing at how grown up she forces herself to become as she enters a very rough and scary new world.
The story really begins to unfold once Luli meets Glenda on the road, an older-sister type who takes Luli under her wing (in addition to giving her cocaine and teaching her how to steal). Her previous encounter with Eddie seems out of place, but comes full circle once the two women run into him again. The novel very much felt disjointed and without a traditional flow, which I liked. It moved as an unplanned journey would. The most problematic thing for me with this book was sometimes Luli’s voice felt muddled and not authentic. Portes definitely could have delved deeper into the characters persona, instead of having drastically different components put into one book.
Hick isn’t a story for everyone. Towards the end of the novel, Luli’s experiences become disturbing and quite heartbreaking, something that those who aren’t into darker stories may not want to read about. Eddie becomes the catalyst for drama after he basically kidnaps Luli and uses her as his own sadistic possession. When Glenda finally resurfaces and comes to Luli’s rescue, the moment of elation is soon overshadowed by violence and death.
In the end, I found myself rooting for Luli’s happiness. She is a hick, there is no changing that, but the fact that Luli is able to recognize what she could have if she gets away from her old life is mature. She does not have a solid family, so Luli needs to pave her own way. Hick was a really cool book and I’d recommend it to those who want to read something slightly edgy and dark, but still easy enough to breeze through quickly.
“Hick” – Directed by Derick Martini
When I saw the preview for “Hick” I was pretty excited. I thought it looked well-cast and had an edgy appeal to it that made me really want to see it. Unfortunately, the film was a little bit underwhelming. It wasn’t that the movie was necessarily bad it just wasn’t very good and I thought it was missing some major components.
They use Luli’s drawings in the movie to shed light on the fact that she is still just a kid, but I felt that the film honed in on the story of her stillborn baby brother rather than her family life or actual feelings. The movie could have used the voice-over and art component to explain how, and when, Luli learns how to use her sexuality as a weapon. In the novel, Luli realizes her power as a woman in the very beginning of the story when Ray tries to come on to her. After this, Luli realizes that she can make a mans “eyes swirl” and get them to do whatever she wants just by being pretty. This very important piece of Luli’s character is void in the film.
Eddie Redmayne’s portrayal of Eddie Kreezer was pretty spot on considering I don’t find Redmayne to be the most phenomenal actor. There was something about him that was attractive and sexy yet perverse and frightening at the same time – exactly how Eddie is described in the book. Despite the great casting for this role, I did not find the entire situation with Luli to be as dark as I wanted it to be. In the novel, Eddie repeatedly rapes Luli and ties her up for days before being rescued, but in the movie it seems to be just a one day excursion. Maybe it is just my affinity for making cruel situations realistic in a movie, but this entire aspect of “Hick” was really lost. I feel that most people who see the film, without reading the book, won’t feel remotely anything for Luli’s well being.
“Hick” was not the worst movie ever made it just wasn’t as excellent as I wanted it to be. Andrea Portes provided a really great story that could have worked wonders on the big screen, but poor directorial choices cause “Hick” to flatline. If you have interest in it, go see the movie, but it is definitely not a must-see.
Mook Rating – ★★