Thursday, March 19, 2009

What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, by Peter Hedges

Facts: It almost took me a week to finish all 320 pages of this book. The chapters, of which there are 60, were very short. This was published in the year 1991, which, by coincidence, was the year that I was born. The novel was then turned into a movie 2 years later, with the screenplay written by the same author, Peter Hedges, and starring Johnny Depp as Gilbert Grape, the title character. Incidentally, Leonardo Dicaprio also plays Gilbert's retard brother, Arnie, so that makes two of my favorite actors in one movie. (See this link) I haven't seen the movie yet, but we just got it out from the library yesterday, so when I see it I'll be sure to edit this review to tell you how I liked it.

My opinions: Right off the bat, you guys should know that this is a Y/A novel, a book for young adults. It's got certain scenes in it that aren't meant for children to read about. But it's largely a good read. Gilbert Grape is this 24 year old dude who's stuck in the small town of Endora, Iowa, with his family. The Grapes are certainly a strange family (besides their last name). The strangest members by far are his soon to be 18-year-old brother, Arnie, who like I said before is retarded, and his mother, who is described to be so fat that she would be the butt of all those "Yo momma's so fat" jokes. Gilbert is naturally protective of Arnie, but he seems to hate the rest of his family. The book is all from Gilbert's point of view. There's not much of a driving plot, like no quest or evil villain of any sort. It's just his life and how he develops as a character. The town he lives in is almost a character on its own. He doesn't like the changes happening in it. Gilbert resists change. He doesn't like the new supermarket or the fast-food restaurant being built, or the burning down of his old elementary school. One of the biggest changes is when a strange, pretty girl comes to town and has everybody smitten with her.

I believe I liked this book alright. I wouldn't recommend it to everyone, but it seems like a good piece of literature. Below is a trailer of the movie, What's Eating Gilbert Grape.

*Edit* I've now read the book and seen the movie. As is usually the case, I liked the book better. But the Gilbert Grape movie wasn't too bad. It seemed to really try to stuff everything from the book into it. They left out a few scenes and characters, but that was okay, I guess. Depp and Dicaprio were absolutely the best. Though I couldn't say I loved the movie, I really enjoyed watching these two actors perform. Especially Leo. He's so adorable and lovable in his character.

Even though Annette and Adam did not read the book, like I did, they still thought the movie was a good one. I guess I'm prejudiced. I thought it was really weird how Johnny Depp was made to have long red hair. That's not quite how I pictured Gilbert. Oh well.

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