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An Ocean in Iowa

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  469 ratings  ·  55 reviews
In a small town in Iowa, Scotty Ocean has announced that seven is going to be his year. It does turn out to be his year, but not quite the one he had imagined. It is the year his mother abandons the family. At first, Scotty does astonishing things to get her to return. When he realizes she won't be coming back, he decides he must replace her. And when that proves impossibl ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published April 28th 1999 by Touchstone (first published April 1st 1998)
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Letters from Hawaii by Mark TwainAbe Lincoln in Illinois by Robert E. SherwoodIndiana by George SandGeorgia O'Keeffe by Roxana RobinsonHawaii by James A. Michener
Name of State (USA) in Title: D-I
99th out of 102 books — 14 voters
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Best Coming of Age Stories
261st out of 803 books — 906 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 767)
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Trish
Dec 05, 2009 Trish rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone!!!
Shelves: favorites
I so hate that this book often gets overlooked because of the popularity of What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Scotty Ocean will always be one of my favorite all-time characters. Whenever I run into the occasional reader who has actually read this book, I scream, "Purple mountains majesty!!" They get it, and so will you if you read this book. You will cry and laugh at the same time while reading this book. You will cringe as you remember being in elementary school with a teacher who just doesn't get i ...more
Lowez
What's Eating Gilbert Grape is one of my most favourite things ever, so when I saw this book in the opshop I jumped on it. Turns out Peter Hedges is far from prolific, and I have now read nearly the sum of all of his works. It's plain to see why; both books are so painfully personal and honest, so humble. It just isn't the kind of thing that lends itself to rapid production.

But anyways. An Ocean in Iowa had me feeling pretty skeptical for the first few pages- it seemed very generically 'bookish
...more
Jamie Leach
no closure
Kasey
The author does a good job with the character's in the book. He really drew me in. I kept reading to see what was going to happen and then ... nothing did. The character's were great but the plot wasn't there. I was waiting for a climax, then all the sudden I was on the last page. Frustrating, because it could've been really good.
Les
In an effort to read more of the books that have been lurking on my shelves for years, I chose An Ocean in Iowa, which I picked up at a Fort Worth Library sale, so I’ve owned it for at least a decade. Not only did I wait too long to read it, but I waited too long to write my review. It’s been almost three months since I finished the book and I don’t remember much more than enjoying the sixties’ nostalgia and feeling a sense of sadness for Scotty and his sisters. I only marked two passages, but t ...more
Brandi
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becky
3 stars

Scotty is turning seven and is very excited about it. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a terrible year for Scotty and his family. His alcoholic mother leaves him, his two older sisters, and his father. Scotty cannot seem to make and keep close friends, and he is always seeming to do the wrong things at the wrong times. Quirky, poignant, bizarre, and funny, this novel was a fairly quick snapshot into the life of a disfunctional family in Iowa during the 60s.

I enjoyed getting to know the v
...more
Agnes Mack
An Ocean in Iowa is the story of Scotty Ocean, who lives in a small town in Iowa. Shortly after his 7th birthday his mother leaves his family and Scotty is left living with his sisters and father, a local Judge. Throughout the book Scotty is in denial about his mother leaving and goes to all kind of crazy extremes to make her come back.

I had been wanting to read more books that take place in the Midwest, and specifically in Iowa, where I grew up, so I had high expectations for this book. Unfortu
...more
David Ryan
A nice "slice of life" book, recounting the 7th year of Scotty, a boy growing up in Iowa in the 60's. I enjoyed some of the 60's references! I picked up the book because I really enjoyed Peter Hedges, "What's eating Gilbert Grape". This book was not up to that same standard, at least not for me.
☆Brittany☆
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen
Scotty Ocean is a six year old boy growing up in Iowa in the late 1960's and early '70's. Peter Hedges does an amazing job of making Scotty "real". Scotty is a perfect example of the way a little boy sees, hears and interprets the world around him. He is just as sweet, innocent and profound as any real boy his age.
When Scotty's estranged mother came back for a visit, Scotty was sure she was going to stay forever. When Scotty woke up the next morning and found that his mother was gone,(again),
...more
Helen
A bitter sweet read without much character development. Reads more as a novella with no resolution.
Kristy
Gorgeous. I am always surprised that people don't make a bigger deal out of this author. His work is beautiful.
Petar
To Hedges, I am sure, this is a very significant novel, and I admire that he has taken the time to capture his childhood, and has done it so masterfully. I'm a huge fan of Hedges and am indebted to him for Gilbert, a book which enlightened me and has since stayed with me in my heart. But this, Gilbert fans, is something completely (although not altogether) different. Simply said, for us, there is little to pick up and carry from this novel. Three stars because, while I appreciate Hedges' staying ...more
Becca
Mar 04, 2008 Becca rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone!!!
I so hate that this book often gets overlooked because of the popularity of What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Scotty Ocean will always be one of my favorite all-time characters. Whenever I run into the occasional reader who has actually read this book, I scream, "Purple mountains majesty!!" They get it, and so will you if you read this book. You will cry and laugh at the same time while reading this book. You will cringe as you remember being in elementary school with a teacher who just doesn't get i ...more
Donna
1969, Scott Ocean declares he is going to be seven and that "seven is going to be his year". The Ocean's live in a small Iowa suburb.

Well, it was Scotty's year, but not the one he had planned on: his mother left home; he tries everything to get her to come home, but doesn't work; he tries to replace her to no avail; and when things can't get any worse, suddenly, it's time to turn eight. He tries a drastic step to stay seven forever.

This book is sad, funny and sometimes surprising. It is hard fo
...more
Jonita Cerabino
One of my favorites!
Kathleen
Scotty Ocean is convinced that turning seven will be significant. It will be his special year. Instead the year turns into a nightmare with his mother first disappearing, then going to jail. Scotty doesn't want to learn how to tie his shoes, because "my mother does that"...a fairy tale he wants to recover. He spends a great deal of time acting out and looking for a mother. the story includes his two older disapproving sister, and his father, the Judge. Eight feels completely different. Reads lik ...more
Andy White
This story is a rich explanation of what life was like being an elementary school kid in the 1960s. If you enjoy a story full of detailed descriptions this one is for you. To me the story was like a pinball machine...going here, going there, not really going anywhere.
Amy Arsenault
"At first, Scotty does astonishing things to get her to return." I didn't find this anywhere in the book. I didn't see him doing anything astonishing to get her to return. Maybe I just missed it?

Somebody else said anti-climactic. I agree.

It was easy to read in the way that it kept my interest and I didn't have to take breaks, but other than that I found it pretty so-so. Kind of boring. Maybe I just wasn't interested in reading about the life of a seven year old?
Rebekkila
The author did a great job of telling the story through the eyes of a seven year old boy. His mother had s drinking problem and left her husband with 2 daughters and a seven year old boy to raise on his own. Seeing Scott's world from his point of view made the book less disturbing than if it was told from the people around him him. The story was simple and funny at times, I wish it had been a bit longer I didn't get the feeling of closure I was left feeling a bit unsettled.
Paula Martin
I don't know what to say about this book. The problem is, I don't really have anything really good or really bad to say about it. Mostly I just think it wasn't finished. It read like a draft. There were some very interesting themes explored in this book, but the dialogue wasn't what I expected after reading Gilbert Grape. I expected more observations and details, richer characters...this just seemed a little flat to me.
Doron Yam
Scotty Ocean do not want to be eight years old. After he decided that the age ofseven will be his best, it turned out to be his worst. It was so bad that he decided to not turn eight...
The story tells us about the growing pains of a child that need attention and cant get it in the late 1960's in the US.
A profile of an avarage american family...
Andrea
try as I might, I couldn't finish this book. I had it out from the library for weeks and finally had to return it because after 111 pages, I couldn't bring myself to pick it up anymore. This book is about a young boy who turns 7 and then his mother leaves. His mother doesn't leave because he turns 7.... but she does leave. It is choppy and slow-moving.
Suzanne
A quirky little novel that draws you in quietly, but completely. Told from the point of view of a 7 yr old boy who most certainly wants to stay 7 forever. It is about his life and his fairly dysfunctional suburban family and how he reacts to it all. Note that this author also wrote What's Eating Gilbert Grape.
Heather
This was obvioulsy a first novel. I'm glad it wasn't my first experience with this author, though, or I might not have read What's Eating Gilbert Grape. WEGG is fabulous. This is not so much. The narrator's character is hard to believe and hard to relate to. And the story goes one or two steps too far, in my opinion.
Steph Bowman
I found this book very disturbing. A very disfunctional family and a highly psychologically messed up little boy are not tops on my list to read about. This guy also wrote What's Eating Gilbert Grape. I have not read it, and am not sure I want to now.
Susan
A pleasant book told from the viewpoint of a 7-year-old boy growing up in Iowa in the 1960s. There were undercurrents throughout that made me think that something awful would happen, but nothing terrible happened in the end. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Gerald
This wasn't as good as Gilbert Grape, but it had a lot of the same Hedges flair. I don't know how it was possible for him to capture so much of the essence of being a seven year old boy, but apparently my ignorance doesn't keep it from being so.
Cathy
Am rapidly becoming a big Peter Hedges fan. His dark, sweet, raw look at families and how we all depend upon each other and survive each other is both funny and familiar. The narration of the insightful 7 years old boy is slightly heartbreaking.
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Peter Hedges is an American novelist, screenwriter, and film director. His novel What's Eating Gilbert Grape was adapted into a critically acclaimed movie of the same title, which launched his film career.

In 2002 he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay for About a Boy. In the same year, he wrote and directed Pieces of April, starring Katie Holmes, which he dedicated to
...more
More about Peter Hedges...
What's Eating Gilbert Grape The Heights About a Boy: The Shooting Script Pieces of April: The Shooting Script Imagining Brad and The Valerie of Now.

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“Joan and the Judge had gone to a Sunday brunch with friends. They would be home shortly, in good spirits probably, unless of course they saw their boy frozen to the mailbox.
So Claire and Maggie had no choice. They each grabbed a shoulder and hooked under an elbow and yanked suddenly without warning. Scotty brought his hands quickly to his mouth. All three stood quietly staring at the miniature pink circle of flesh still stuck on the mailbox.
"It looks like a little pizza," said Maggie without thinking.”
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