Tag Archives: Peter Hedges

Down-to-Read with Daniela: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges

Age Group:
Teens and Adults

Realistic Fiction, Classic, Humourous, American

Twenty-four-year old Gilbert is experiencing something of a quarter-age crisis when he realizes his life has been spent working a dead-end job, taking care of his ‘retarded’ brother Arnie and fulfilling the man-of-the-house role in the wake of his father’s suicide. His long suffering and immensely obese mother, once the former sweetheart of Endora, Iowa, now eats her feelings as the family tries to maintain a semblance of normality despite tragedy and misfortune.

My Thoughts:
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape is real and unapologetic; and it reached me on a deeply personal level. Gilbert is a likable and completely realistic protagonist, whose blasé attitude hides deeply smothered feelings of sadness and despair. The joy of the novel is in seeing Gilbert’s growth as he realizes, in the always optimistic words of his employer Mr. Lamson, that “there will be wonderful surprises” ahead.

Borrow What’s Eating Gilbert Grape from your local VPL library today!

If you enjoyed the story of Gilbert Grape, you might like these other novels from Peter Hedges: An Ocean in Iowa and The Heights.

Have you read any of these books? Let us know what you thought!