We can’t always travel to the places on our bucket list. But we can go there with books! I started the Fifty States Of Fiction challenge with the aim of reading one book from every state in the country. Each week in 2017 I’ll be here to talk about a different state, share with you some geographical fun facts, and explore how a novel, play, or personal narrative captures the essence of the area. Want to follow along? Check out this free printable calendar I’ve created just for you! Let’s get started!
Today’s State: Iowa
Nickname: Hawkeye State
Motto: “Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain”
Bird: Eastern goldfinch
Flower: Wild rose
Entered the union in: 1846
Now, pack your bags everybody. We’re about to explore Iowa as Peter Hedges portrays it in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.
If Arnie Grape climbs up to the top of the water tower, all of Endora, Iowa stretches out below him. Nearby, the Grape house sags under the weight of the enormous Bonnie Grape. Perfect white support posts in the basement do all they can to keep the woman from falling through the floor. In their backyard, a tire swing hangs from the branch of an old willow tree. Out front Arnie likes to hide in the evergreen bush by the mailbox. At night the new moon shines in the sky. Crickets chirp adding their song to the sound of nearby children playing hide and seek. If he gazed out over the town Arnie would see the rival grocery stores, McBurney’s Funeral Home hearse, and the Burger Barn construction site. Highway 2 curves, unlike the other flat, bland roads in Endora. Out by the Skunk River it deposits Gilbert in the county cemetery where his father is buried. The red brick school has been closed for seven years now. Soon the town will burn its boarded up windows and rusty playground equipment to the ground. They must be careful about renegade flames, though. The summer weather has all the farmers in Endora worried. One accidental spark and the entire town could go up. In the end, perhaps a fire is just what the Grape family needs.
Have you read any other books set in Iowa? Have you traveled there yourself? Make sure to let me know what the Hawkeye State means to you in the comments! Check back here next week to explore Kansas through literature.
And remember, if you want to keep up with our schedule as we travel the country, you can download my free printable calendar.
See you all next week!