What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
By Peter Hedges
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? by Peter Hedges was written in 1991 and turned into a major motion picture in 1994. Gilbert Grape is played by Johnny Depp and Arnie Grape is played by Leonardo DiCaprio! 😀 😀 😀
The main character, Gilbert Grape is one of five children in the Grape family. He has two older sisters (Janice and Amy), an older brother (Larry), and a younger brother (Arnie) and sister (Ellen). The setting is in Endora, Iowa.
Amy, Gilbert, Arnie and Ellen live with their obese mother whose only activities include sleeping and eating. Janice and Larry live out of state and earn the most money. All of the responsibility in the house falls to Amy and Gilbert since Arnie is 17 and mentally challenged and Ellen is 16 and well…16.
Gilbert’s father is dead (you’ll find out why if/when you read it) and Gilbert is emotionless.
Gilbert’s mother just wants to see Arnie turn 18 since he wasn’t supposed to leave passed the age of 10. She’s been eating excessively since her husband died and Gilbert has all different names for her. Sometimes he calls her a beached whale. Sometimes he calls her a walrus.
Amy is an Elvis Presley addict and is slowly becoming like her mother. She points it out to Gilbert, but she does nothing about it.
Arnie is mentally challenged and acts like a little kid. He is attached to Gilbert and always calls Gilbert by his name. Gilbert is like a father to Arnie.
Ellen is 16 years old and does nothing around the house to help Gilbert and Amy. In fact, she doesn’t even try to help Arnie. She is rude and self-absorbed. However, she does work but that’s about all that she does.
There is another important character in the book, Becky, who is “other worldly” to everyone in town. She is a beauty and Gilbert has fallen for her. However, he cannot admit this to himself or to her.
Gilbert has only one friend, Tucker and sometimes Bobby. They are recurring characters but even Gilbert isn’t sure why they are in his life.
The novel is 335 pages long and is told in Gilbert’s point of view. He is stoic and never says what is on his mind.
The book is beautifully written and is quite moving. Anyone else in Gilbert’s predicament might just leave their mother for dead rather than put up with all the BS that he has to go through; it is not easy being him.
In all honesty, and I ashamed to admit this, the book is funny. Gilbert Grape is a man with a great mind and good sense of humor. In fact, this was a perfect role for Johnny Depp to play.
In fact, this book is real to life. There are plenty of people in this world who can not leave their parents no matter how bad things get. It is a novel also about a brother’s love and patience.
What’s eating Gilbert Grape you ask? Read the story and find out. I promise you, you will not be able to put it down.
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