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What's Eating Gilbert Grape is the story of a self-sacrificing man who, even though sometimes it's hard for him to do, always puts the rest of his family before his own desires. However, when a young woman named Becky comes to town, Gilbert struggles even more with the problems that he was already having trouble controlling. To me, this book shows us that if you don't try to make everything about yourself, and you spend more of your time helping others than helping you, it will pay off in the end. I really enjoy Hedges' style of writing in this novel, with very simple and to the point dialogue and descriptions, but still with enough embellishment so that you picture the characters and settings exactly the way he wants you to. Also, Hedges does a great job at bringing the characters to life in a believable, life-like way, and the way that the family interacts is identical to some of the dysfunctional families of my friends and acquaintances. The only thing I do not like about this book is that I watched the movie first. Some of the characters are described differently in the book than they are portrayed in the film, and after watching the movie first it's hard to picture the character Arnie as overweight when he is played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The only reason I can find for someone not to read this book is if they don't enjoy reading great pieces of literature, because that is certainly what What's Eating Gilbert Grape falls under.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 16, 2008
The characters in What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges are gritty and flawed and repulsive and totally engaging as well as entirely believable. It's a great study of a young man seeking meaning for his life and trying to decide when he can put his own needs before the needs of a very dysfunctional family. Gilbert's day-to-day life in small-town Iowa is mind-numbingly realistic, and you can understand both his frustrations at the life he's living and the limitations that keep him living it. As long as he doesn't think too much about his situation or analyze his prospects for the future, life can go on as before. But when a girl who is very different from anyone else Gilbert knows arrives on the scene, he begins to question everything. This is a great book to read in a mother-daughter book club of girls in 11th grade up or an adult book club and then to watch the movie. Comparing and contrasting the two is very interesting, particularly since author Peter Hedges also wrote the screenplay.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 22, 2001
What¿s Eating Gilbert Grape, the first novel by author Peter Hedges, is an intense joyride of emotions from cover to cover. The book, written in 1991, portrays a 24 year old Gilbert Grape living on the brink of insanity in a tiny Midwestern town, fictionally named Endora. As a matter of fact, just about everything in the book is fictional. Hedges uses a unique abrupt writing style all his own to bring to life this small town and the characters therein. Most conversations between characters do not begin or end with 'he said,' or 'she said,' but rather begin by identifying the speakers, and then forcing the reader to follow along, allowing for a quicker, more upbeat read. Endora¿s unique population of characters unfolds slowly as the book progresses. The book doesn¿t just focus on Gilbert and his family, but on the inner workings of Endora as well. However, the reader doesn¿t just view Endora as is, but instead sees the small town through the eyes of Gilbert- whose voice Hedges uses as the narrator. The use of Gilbert as the narrator allows the reader to become submersed in Gilbert¿s world, feeling his emotions or disagreeing with them entirely- nevertheless providing for a unique view, and a unique book. There seems to be two main topics that remain constant throughout the book (there are many sub-plots and side topics though): Gilbert¿s strange and totally unique relationship with his family-and the relationships between themselves, (mainly the anticipation and planning of his younger, mentally challenged brother¿s eighteenth birthday), and Gilbert¿s somewhat romantic involvement with Becky, a beautiful sixteen year old girl who has come to visit her grandmother for the summer. Throughout it all you find the town and the people slowly changing- for better or for worse. Gilbert himself, however stubborn he may be, slowly changes and forms almost a new person entirely. It seems that the only constant, unchanging character is Arnie. With his child like playfulness, and all around stubbornness, the character of Arnie appears as almost the backbone of the story. Yet, no matter who you are or where you come from- What¿s Eating Gilbert Grape is a story that will keep you reading until the wonderful end, and will continue to stay with you- even after the pages between the covers have been read. In closing- I leave you with a quote, that possibly sums up more than half the book, from the master pessimistic narrator himself, the one, the only- Gilbert Grape: 'Everything is peachy. I¿ve got a mother who would eat her arm if she had enough barbecue sauce, a dork a$$ older brother and a wicked sister who got out of t his town, a little bit** of a sister who very likely made love to Jesus last night, and ever fattening older sister who deserves a decent man, and a retard brother who, we have reason to believe, has gone into hiding and is once again terrified of water.'Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 14, 2001
What's Eating Gilbert Grape
What's Eating Gilbert Grape is a loving story about a 24-year-old [Gilbert Grape] who has never left Endora, Iowa. Its a story about his life and wanting to get out, but along the way has to take on the responsibility of rasing his mentally challenged brother, Arnie. I would recommend this book because Peter Hedges does such and excellent job writing this book. He make you feel like you are in Gilbert's shoes.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.