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Friday, July 5, 2013

Big Brother: A Novel

I am a massive (no pun intended) Lionel Shriver fan. We Need To Talk About Kevin blew my mind, and I also loved The New Republic and So Much for That. So when I heard she had a new book coming out, Big Brother, I jumped in the library queue like a jackrabbit on speed.

Pandora flies her brother, Edison, out from New York City to visit her family in Iowa hoping that the jaunt will break his spell of depression. When Edison arrives, Pandora doesn't recognize him--he has gained 250 pounds, and can barely fit through the door. Throughout his visit Pandora feels her family being strained--food disappears like water, her husband resents putting Edison up, and their son is not impressed to say the least. The only person who loves Edison unconditionally is Pandora's daughter, Cody. As a last ditch effort to save her brother's life, Pandora puts it all on the line--her marriage, her children, and her sanity. She moves in with her brother nearby and starts him on an excessive weight loss plan. Will he lose the weight and live to see another day? Or will Pandora lose everything that she holds dear?

Of course I enjoyed this book. Like I said, I am a Shriver fan so I reveled in her new work. I was fascinated by Pandora--her relationship with her husband, Fletcher; her relationship with her brother; and her accomplishments as a business woman. One thing I found particularly interesting is the dynamic between Pandora and the two men in her life. I was puzzled as to why she didn't tell her brother to quit picking on her husband; she spent so much time defending her brother to Fletcher that I wondered when she was going to have a serious discussion about respect with her brother.

This is also a very timely book--how often are we hearing about obesity in the news? This puts a human face on the epidemic, and as readers we have the "inside scoop," if you will. We get to see the struggle behind the weight, that it's not just about food but about control, and often times the lack of it. We see in Edison a lost little boy who can't stand that he is past his glory days; in Pandora we see an accomplished woman who must face the jealousy and resentment of an older brother who never quite made the same strides. It's an interesting dynamic and one that I really enjoyed in this book.

Kindle copy on left, hard copy on right.


  1. I thought this book was excellent. It is my first Shriver novel - I definitely need to go read her others because I loved her writing style.

    Maycee Greene (Local SEO Indianapolis)

  2. Hi Maycee,

    Thanks for stopping in! Definitely pick up We Need to Talk About Kevin--it's mind-blowing.