Friday, April 23, 2010

The Heights

The Heights

Peter Hedges

Tim Welch is a history teacher at a private school still working on his dissertation about loss. Kate Welch is a stay at home mom who loves taking care of her children. Everything changes when they meet Anna Brody. Tim takes a year off, Kate gets a job. New feelings appear. Told from several different perspectives, but mainly Tim and Kate you get to learn what life is like in the Heights.

Hedges, who wrote both the novel and screenplay for Whats Eating Gilbert Grape as well as several other screenplays has come up with one of the most over told stories ever. It's rare for an avid reader, such as myself to think "This would be better as a movie" but it's true. The story unfolds like some mediocre character driven drama. The book itself reads like an Oscar nominee, not an Oscar winner, one of those dry dramas where everyone makes bad choices and says terrible things and people rave about it for a few weeks and then when they think about it years latery they're all like 'yeah, that was kind of terrible'.

The characters themselves are contrived, Kate is endearing in the beginning before she becomes annoying. Tim is interesting before becoming pathetic. Anna Brody is always mysterious before you realize she is about to cause to most uneventful causal event ever.

There is obviously a demographic for novels like this, and with it being only 293 pages it's a little hard to justify putting it down.  Hedges, stick to writing for the screen. Love your movies, hated this novel.

My Rating
**

7 comments:

Becki said...

I LOVED What's Eating Gilbert Grape and have waited that long for Hedges to write another book. I can't believe that I didn't catch this, as I've been watching for one, too. Where have I been?

I checked the average rating on Goodreads and it definitely is below the level that would normally compel me to rush out and purchase the book, so now I guess I feel a bit torn as to whether or not to read it. I've been looking for this for SO long.

Did you enjoy What's Eating Gilbert Grape? Genuinely curious, subscribing to comments. I don't look forward to books to this degree very often (STILL can't believe I missed it!). Some awesome reviews on Goodreads and some not so awesome reviews. It looks more like it comes in at "so so" than either good or bad, which is freakishly disappointing. Ugh!

Thanks for the review. Very well articulated, even if disappointing. :)

Letter4no1 said...

I never read the novel for Gilbert Grape but love the film, as well as Dan and Real life and About a Boy, which he also wrote and co-wrote.

I thought the book itself sounded really interesting and only knew about it because it was one of Librarything's early review books last month, but i didn't win.

It was a well written book, and I guess I was just expecting it to be more originally, given the other things he's worked on. I'd still like to read the novel for Grape, so maybe that will change my opinion on his as a novelist.

I'd recommend getting it from the library. I'm glad i did.

Becki said...

What's Eating Gilbert Grape is one of my all time favorite novels. Personally I didn't feel as though Johnny Depp (one of my favorite actors for reasons beyond his looks) was able to quite pull off the character of Gilbert, which was disappointing. Amy and Ellen are also both, in my opinion, require a bit of imagination to fully pull off. The fact that Becky is only fourteen is also lost in the movie.

I got my copy of Gilbert at Half Price books, since I can never let go of a book that I've gotten my hands on, but I know they don't have The Heights. Very frustrating. If it wasn't my favorite book I'd offer to swap lol

I was impressed some weeks ago about the fact that Gilbert is rated at 4.03 on Goodreads. That's pretty good considering variances in taste. The Heights is only at 3.30 -- significantly less.

Given his style I don't see him pulling off the varied perspectives this book seems to have though.

Diane said...

I was looking forward to this one; sorry it was disappointing. Just discovered your blog through Blog Hop; it looks great!

Becky said...

Oh, what a shame it was so disappointing. I hate reading books where it feels like you're reading a book, and that's what this one sounds like.

Ben Carroll said...

I love the Gilbert Grape film, but I had no idea it was a noel first/as well. I'll track that down, I think.

Priya Parmar said...

i though gilbert grape and about a boy were both such wonderfully quirky films i am surprised the writing is predictable here.