Forrest Gump (1986)

by Winston Groom

If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll be surprised at how different Forrest Gump the book is. Many incidents in the book weren’t in the movie, and vice versa. Forrest never says, ""Life is like a box of chocolates." More important, Forrest's character is different.

It's not just that he has a half-foot and who knows how many pounds on Tom Hanks. It's also that his personality is not as sweet and passive. And mentally, he's not an idiot but an idiot savant with extraordinary talents in chess, numbers, and the harmonica.

There’s also a matter of outrageousness. Forrest’s cross-country run in the movie strains the limits of credibility, but it’s nothing like Forrest’s living on an island among cannibals and befriending an orangutan who becomes his traveling companion and business partner.

Your preference may come down to how sentimental you are. Soft-hearted folks will like the Forrest of the movie better; those of a more cynical bent will think Hollywood inserted too much schmalz. Regardless, don’t skip the book because you think you already know what happens.

And if you're not aware of either the movie or the book, here's the briefest background: Forrest Gump is the story of a young Southern man with an IQ of 75 who was raised by a devoted single mother, loves and loses a girl named Jenny, has a series of improbable adventures, and succeeds against the odds.  

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