“Wonderfully entertaining . . . This distinctive first novel goes down like a chocolate milkshake but boasts the sharpness and finesse of a complex wine” (Publishers Weekly).
Gilbert Grape is a twenty-four-year-old grocery store clerk stuck in Endora, Iowa, where the population is 1,091 and shrinking. After the suicide of Gilbert’s father, his family never fully recovered. Once the town beauty queen, Gilbert’s mother is now morbidly obese and planted eternally in front of the TV; his younger sister has recently turned both boy-crazy and God-fearing, while his older sister sacrifices everything for her family. And then there’s Arnie, Gilbert’s younger brother with special needs. With no one else to care for Arnie, Gilbert becomes his brother’s main parent, and all four siblings must tend to the needs of their helpless, grieving mother.
So Gilbert is in a rut—until a mysterious new girl named Becky arrives in this small town. As his family gathers for Arnie’s eighteenth birthday, Gilbert finds himself at a crossroads . . .
This “completely original” portrait of a family (The New York Times), “charged with sardonic intelligence” (The Washington Post Book World), was the basis for a film starring Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio, and stands as one of the most memorable novels of recent decades.
“Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and always engaging.” —The Atlantic
“By the book’s exhilaratingly luminous ending . . . we have already been mesmerized.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer
“A funny, touching, caring first novel whose characters are familiar and moving in spite of (or perhaps because of) their peculiarities.” —Booklist