Everyone has heard stories like Romeo and Juliet, stories that feature star-crossed lovers who defy all odds to be together. But what about Five Feet Apart, the tale of two young teenagers who fall in love, but can never be together because of the deadly disease that keeps them separated? The young adult novel by Rachel Lippincot, Mikki Daughtry, and Tobias Iaconis was made into a movie and released by CBS Films.
Five Feet Apart is told from the dual perspective of the two main characters, Stella Grant and Will Newman. The teens have a genetic lung disease called cystic fibrosis. However, Will’s condition, called B. cepacia, can cause harmful effects to someone like himself, Stella, and other CF patients. During their extended stays at a hospital, Will and Stella fall in love, but are forced to remain six feet apart at all times due to these risks of cross infection.
While Stella remains pessimistic about the idea of having a future with Will, he persists, taking every opportunity to speak with her. This eventually changes Stella’s feelings about their relationship. They bend the rules slightly, choosing to be only five feet apart in order to be together, until finally, they must make the ultimate choice: life or love?
Although the main plot and character development stays constant in the book and the movie, there are some slight differences. A major difference between the book and the movie is the point of view. In the book, the story is told from the alternating perspectives of Stella and Will. The movie does not take on that point of view.
While the mechanics were only slightly different, the plot showed some variances. For the dramatization there are differences in Stella’s relationship with her family, some internal complications between Will and Stella, and there is a lack of an epilogue that appears in the book. However, these changes don’t impact the integrity of the film.
Stella and Will’s story teaches readers a powerful and relatable lesson: love isn’t always easy, but it is worth fighting for. Whether they choose the film or the book, audiences of this modern take on the classic story of star-crossed lovers will learn the chilling reality people in tragic situations face.