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© 2018 by John Leslie Butchart

Wild Children of American Culture

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

Is Elyana the first “wild child” to impact American culture since the movie Nell starring Jodie Foster?

Nell, starring Jodie Foster (and produced by her) is a great film, beautifully acted, and shot in a gritty, realistic style. I couldn’t help thinking about it as I wrote Elyana, because it was the only story about a “wild child” that I could find. 

Nell set a high standard, and I used it to motivate my writing.

However, I avoided watching Nell again, afraid I might be tempted to steal something from it. As Elyana’s story took shape, I realized that it was so very different from Nell that plagiarism wasn’t a problem. (Though I still avoided watching the movie.)

Nell is “the story of Poto and Cabengo, twins who created their own language, the film’s narrative follows a young woman who has to face other people for the first time after being raised by her mother in an isolated cabin.” (Wikipedia) You can read more about it here.

Nell is set in the North Carolina mountains, Elyana is set in the mountains of West Virginia. Nell was raised in an isolated cabin, so was Elyana; but that’s where the similarity ends.

I’ll let you discover the story of Elyana for yourself, because my point, or question, at the moment, is whether or not there’s another “wild child story” out there in popular culture. I’m sure there is, but my Googling hasn’t turned up any other titles — films or books.

Here’s the cover of Elyana.

Unlike Nell, Elyana speaks perfectly well for a girl who never set foot in school.

Her story is the journey of discovery she takes through the modern world, however, the novel has a number of flashbacks into her childhood, contrasting the harshness of her life in the Appalachian Mountains with her new life as a young woman struggling, with humor and grace, to find her way.


Here’s Elyana, the “wild child.”

As you might gather from the photo, Elyana is a survivor. In that sense, she is a modern woman who knows how to fend for herself (or butcher a rabbit or four-point buck), but not how to open a ketchup packet.


Prepare to fall in love with Elyana, the newest addition to the wild child genre.


#Elyana #Screenwriting #Nell #Filmmaking #Novel #Appalachia

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