Big Brother by Lionel Shriver is a new novel from the acclaimed author, who won the 2005 Orange Prize for We Need to Talk About Kevin.
Pandora, a successful entrepreneur, loves to cook but her husband, Fletcher, became a health nut who manically cycles and does not let an unhealthy calorie pass his lips. When Pandora’s older brother, a jazz pianist named Edison, comes to visit she is shocked to learn that he weighs close to 400 lbs.
Pandora decides to take Edison under her wing and help him get to his goal weight within a year. Her pet project helps her reconnect with her brother, but affects her family and her husband.
Big Brother stylistically reminded me of So Much for That, which I thought was fantastic. With that, Ms. Shriver wrote an interesting book, with a twist at the end which I did not see coming.
I was a bit disappointed with Big Brother by comparison, because I thought it might have more social commentary. After all, So Much for That was scathing in its criticism of the health care system. I was expecting more of the same about the weight loss industry, its shysters, the discrimination and reasons for obesity – I got some of that but not much.
However, despite my outlook, I still found the book an interesting, fluid and worthwhile read. Purposefully, Ms. Shriver contrasts extremes. Pandora, the protagonist, is a good step-mother who is daughter to a lacking father. Pandora, the successful business woman, is married to an ex-salesman who builds furniture in the basement and is a health freak, she is also sister to a man who is almost 400 lbs. and, of course, the two men in her life are polar opposites in many regards but have much in common (both are extremists and artists).
The ending left me dumbfounded, I’m still not sure if I liked it or now as it turned the whole book on its head, but I have to give Ms. Shriver kudos for bravery. Not every author could write such an ending, knowing full well it will be polarizing, and pull it off as smoothly as she did.
The book did not disappoint, I was expecting more but I still enjoyed the author’s mix of interesting characters and social commentary. The book gives the reader much to think about; it doesn’t offer any answers but brings many questions forefront and center.Powered by Sidelines