Peter Hedges' What's Eating Gilbert Grape

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Peter Hedges' What's Eating Gilbert Grape "I would hope that people might view their fellow beings, all beings, with more empathy, more compassion, with a desire to understand. Even if they can't know why people are the way they are, to understand that they're probably that way for a good reason." said Peter Hedges, author of the book What's Eating Gilbert Grape, and the book has helped him realize this wish. Gilbert Grape, a 24-year-old GenXer, lives in Endora, a dying small town where life is ¡°like dancing to no music.¡± He works at a grocery, whose business is threatened by the newly opened supermarket. Gilbert¡¯s mother, who was once the town sweetheart, has not stopped eating since her husband hanged himself in the basement, and the floor beneath her TV chair is threatening to cave in. His elder sister Amy still mourns the death of Elvis and the fact that her boyfriend dumped her. Ellen, the younger sister who is hooked on makeup and boys, quarrels relentlessly with him. The biggest event on the horizon for all the Grapes is the eighteenth birthday of Gilbert's retarded younger brother, Arnie, who is a living miracle just for having survived so long. When everything in Endora is eating Gilbert Grape and all that he thinks about is leaving, a worldly and beautiful girl Becky rides through town on a bicycle, helping him to have a new vision of his family and himself¡­ There is no one specific plot to this novel, though many conflicts do arise. What makes it so good is the interaction between characters and the unique language style. The family and the characters in What's Eating Gilbert Grape might be strange, but they seem like real characters with real emotions, for the author successfully gives each of them a vivid depiction.

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