Title: Forrest Gump
Author: Winston Groom
Book Length: 239
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Fiction, Classics
Read Start Date: August 10, 2022
Read Finish Date: August 22, 2022
Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: Meet Forrest Gump, the lovable, herculean, and surprisingly savvy hero of this remarkable comic odyssey. After accidentally becoming the star of University of Alabama’s football team, Forrest goes on to become a Vietnam War hero, a world-class Ping-Pong player, a villainous wrestler, and a business tycoon — as he wonders with childlike wisdom at the insanity all around him. In between misadventures, he manages to compare battle scars with Lyndon Johnson, discover the truth about Richard Nixon, and survive the ups and downs of remaining true to his only love, Jenny, on an extraordinary journey through three decades of the American cultural landscape. Forrest Gump has one heck of a story to tell — and you’ve got to read it to believe it…
My Review: Normally I would never say that the movie adaptation is better than the book, but in this case it is true. The movie is fantastic, but the book is only so so. First and foremost, the terms used in the book are no longer politically correct. That being said, back in 1986 when the book was first published was it “okay” to call a mentally challenged person an “idiot”? Not sure. Was it “okay” to call the Vietnamese people “gooks”? Not sure. I get that Forrest, being mentally challenged and from the South might have used these terms and that is his character, etc, but some books just do not age well and are out of place in the day and age.
Secondly, the plot had much to be desired. In the movie the plot is more succinct, whereas in the book it goes all over the place. Forrest gets into a lot of hijinks, and seems to get along fine in each of his endeavors until someone finds out he is an “idiot” and then he has to move on. For example, he can play football really well, so he is recruited to play college ball — but then he fails out academically (except for math classes, at which he seems to excel).
Everything is different between the movie and the book and what made the movie iconic, really isn’t in the book at all. Forrest never goes on a run across the country. Forrest doesn’t sit on a bench and tell his life story to a stranger. Forrest’s mother never said “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” In fact, the only reference to a box of chocolates in the book is this line: “Let me say this: bein a idiot is no box of chocolates.” Forrest and Jenny have a longer romantic relationship in the book, but Jenny doesn’t get AIDS, she doesn’t marry Forrest, she doesn’t die. They end up splitting up and Jenny goes off and marries someone else.
Also, what I found weird about the book is that there is another character, an Orangutan named Sue who plays a big part in the second half of the book. What’s weird about it is that no one questions that a Orangutan is around, going everywhere with Forrest. Forrest meets Sue on a mission to space … then they spend years together in the jungle when the space ship crash lands on an island. When Forrest is rescued, Sue decides to stay, but then is later captured and brought to Hollywood, where Forrest meets up with Sue again when Forrest is hired to play a role in a movie. Sue goes back to Alabama with Forrest. There is just so much that seems implausible honestly.
Anyway, I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. It was definitely an interesting read, but I think I will skip the next two books in the series.