Johnny's movies

Gilbert Grape, what a masterpiece!

Posted in Uncategorized by Anna Maria Polidori on April 27, 2014

Impressive story and thematic. Peter Hedges was able to capture the essence of the life. Stunning characters portrayed with lightness and intensity.

 

The first lesson learned once finished to read

What’s eating Gilbert Grape

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My book cover

by

Peter Hedges 

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is that a dysfunctional family will always experience problems and will never be able to sorting out any problem until the person or the cause of the dysfunctionality of the family won’t disappear or won’t be removed. And of course it is not said that the remaining living people will be “safe”, because in the while time was passed by and existences ruined by the adversities.

 

A tragedy bring always with itself other tragedies richly distribute to all the family involved as well.

In fact a big dysfunctionality in a family is created by a special event that will bring the family in the condition of being called “dysfunctional” or disgraceful for the rest of their “familiar-life”. It can be a birth, a death, when a suicide or a homicide take place, a very sad event able to change the fragile equilibrium of many existences. A litigation for little things. Hate can be long per generations. At the end no one will remember exactly why a certain person shouldn’t speak with a certain relative, but it’s that.

So.

In the case of Gilbert Grape the twenty-four years protagonist of the story, the disfunctionality of the family took place when his dad one day very cheerfully decided of hanging up himself in their home kitchen and her mom consequentially started to eating and smoking and watching TV compulsively for the rest of her days uninterested anymore, apart for these topics, food, smoke and TV, to the rest of life.

At first Gilbert Grape’s family as it happens always in these cases was more than a good family. A normal family, without particular problems. Yes, with common problems but substantially a happy family.

A lot of children, a blessed situation at work, Albert Grape’s wife was once the most beautiful girl of the town and he married her. They loved each other. Perfect situation.

The disgrace of Albert Grape changed all. What it was real before the disgrace became absurd later. Living in that family, living in that house for one of the brother and one of Gilbert’s sister, unacceptable. After it.

 

 

I loved this book so badly and I want to re-read it as soon as possible because although the big sufferance suffered in the house the children are able to cope with all of it continuing in a way of living a sort of life.

Gilbert is involved in a story with a married lady. Being just 24 he doesn’t imagine everyone in the little town know about the story, including the husband of this woman.

Then there is Amy 34 years, Gilbert’s sister, still the bedroom of a teen-ager of 13th. Considering her hard life, cleaning up, cooking and baking all the time for her compulsive mom she deserves a dreaming corner where to rest her mind. She is an Elvis Presley’s lover. Not a boyfriend, but an old story ended up quiet tragically because of…her sister.

Ellen the 15 years old Gilbert’s sister is a nymphomaniac.

Arnie the main reason, their retard brother, why they are still a family. Maybe more than because of their mom, or maybe because of their mom’s love for Arnie.

Arnie deserves his own attention and Gilbert and the sisters try to do all their best considering that Arnie will be soon 18th years and this one is another great topic of relevance for the life of Gilbert’s mom: seeing the arrival of the 18th years of Arnie with all herself. Birthday party included.

Gilbert’s character is complicated. In part is introvert,  He is a good good boy. Linear. Practical he doesn’t know what to dream in a situation like the one he is in. I don’t know if he really needs someone close to him or if he feels of being sufficiently enough by himself. He needs some lightness.

He is in fact involved in a lot of strong familiar heavy realities. Apart the married lady, he discovers this teen-ager to and he starts to be friend with her, and he starts to feeling something for her. Gilbert is not the kind of guy can be attracted by the normality. He is attracted by something else. In a way I don’t read the love-story he lives with the teen-ager as a sort of liberation from all the difficult situation Gilbert is living. Gilbert is not so enchanted for believing that someone can be a savior. Maybe a helper but not a savior. Maybe a light in the darkness. His male friends think he is very lucky about women, Gilbert doesn’t think he is. He is a boy with a heavy situation at home. This is sadly true.

Gilbert hates and love his mom. He loves his mom because once they were happy and because he is his mom. He hates her mom because he feels his existence is too much sacrificed. Although there is no escapism to it apart leaving the little town. Forever. An option taken in consideration. Because when a something change a family nothing will be back to the normality. Not anymore and not for a very long time.

 

I was impressed by this first Peter Hedges’ book.

I loved his writing-style and the linearity of the story. He was able of giving voices at a lot of diversified characters with humor and lightness at times and it’s difficult when a story like this one is treated. 

The narration remains light, although the family lived a tragedy after another and the existence of these children of course very focused on bigger problems in comparison to the ones of their contemporaries.

 

Unfair but at time the life is not a comfy highway.

Having a retard brother, having a mom eating and smoking compulsively, who became with the time a little whale with problems of movements, makes the difference. Because for these children after the horrible departure of their dad, so the authoritative character in a family,  there is not anymore the other great and important and real  support they need: their mom. There is not anymore someone with which they can talk of problems for receiving some help.

 

Gilbert’s mom died emotionally the day Albert Grape decided of killing himself. A part of Gilbert’s mom died that day. Forever. As a wife, and as a mom. And no one would have being able of bringing her back from the hell where she jumped after seeing what her beloved husband committed to himself.

These teen-agers  and young adults know very clearly and sadly that a part of that life is over and the life is just in their  hands. Positive for sure, but when a disgrace involve still little children can be a devastation because a guidance is necessary.

 

As wrote by someone from the South (Fannie Flagg)  There is a special God for children, able to give to them all the protection and force for coping with every sorta of problematic and very often the result will be wonderful adults.

 

Another book I am reading now is involving a teen-ager. Once raped she end up to be a sort of whale because of nerves. Two different stories of big shocks and tragedies, sorted out with food for bringing back to body and mainly soul all that love, and trust and joy for life that an act, a death without sense, or a tragedy was able to destroy. Although time it is said should cure everything there are maybe pains no one can cure.

 

Food included that of course can become a real killer.

The end of the book is beautiful, touching and make justice of an existential condition who needed to have dignity and respect ’til the end. I found it beautiful, although I would want to read a sequel written by the author. Yes: telling to us what happened later to Gilbert, Amy, Ellen, after that…

Well if you haven’t read it, I highly suggested it, I fell in love for it and I can assure you that all the protagonists won’t fly away once you will have finished to read the book but they will remain like sculpted in your soul forever.

So.

Happy reading.

 

Anna Maria Polidori

 

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6 Responses

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  1. Bobbie Donnelly said, on April 28, 2014 at 12:44 am

    very interesting and very well written review, and it makes a real reader want to read this fascinating book. Anna Maria Polidori has a very talented gift of wetting your mind for the time when you will be reading this delightful book…..

    • Anna Maria Polidori said, on May 16, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Thank you! X0

  2. Peggy Ann said, on May 16, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    Anna Maria, this is one of my favorite movies! I have not read the book but I will be looking for it to read it! I so identified with Gilbert. I think it opened my eyes to how ‘not normal’ my family might be!

    • Anna Maria Polidori said, on May 16, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      Hi PeggyAnn! Thanks for your comment! The book is stunning. I haven’t seen yet the movie, can you believe it? And I am a Johnny’s fan. I once ordered the book because the story attracted me so badly and I found What’s Eating Gilbert Grape simply stunning and incredibly well written. All the characters are identified very vividly so that there is no dispersion or confusion and the reader will simply fall in love for them remembering them forever and ever. The writing-style is very clear. While I was reading Gilbert Grape I was also reading She’s come undone by Wally Lamb another very interesting book. These books treat the thematic of food when a tragedy fall upon a family and there is not other reaction than to feeding, compulsively feeding a body for trying to survive to all of it. I hope that you will find my blog interesting. Please keep in touch! Anna

      • Peggy Ann said, on May 16, 2014 at 7:11 pm

        I have She’s Come Undone on my book shelf! I will keep in touch, Anna Maria. I will answer your email soon! Busy day today.

      • Anna Maria Polidori said, on May 16, 2014 at 7:37 pm

        Hi PeggyAnn, many thanks!I believe it, She’s Come Undone is an Oprah’s Book Club and it’s written wonderfully. I still need to finish of reading it. I enjoy the intensity of the story-telling and character, Dolores, unforgettable for sure. These two books are first books of their respective authors. Peter Hedges’s first book has been in fact Gilbert Grape and same for Wally Lamb with She’s Come Undone. Very impressive stories. Yes, sure PeggyAnn. I can’t wait to receive your e-mail. And of course I hope that you’re finding this blog interesting. Have a happy day!


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