Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Big Brother

Title:  Big Brother
Author:  Lionel Shriver
Publication Information:  Harper. 2013. 384 pages.

Book Source:  I read this book based on how much I enjoyed another book (We Need to Talk About Kevin) by the same author.

Favorite Quote:  "The most sumptuous experience of ingestion is in-between: remembering the last bite and looking forward to the next one."

Big Brother is a book about a dysfunctional family and about obesity. Pandora lives in Iowa with her husband, Fletcher, and her two stepchildren. Edison is Pandora's brother.

Pandora owns a business that makes custom dolls. People send in a picture of a loved one and a set of phrases or comments that the person repetitively says. Pandora's company embodies those in a doll. (Not something I would want and just a little bit creepy, in my opinion). Fletcher makes furniture that no one buys. Edison is a jazz pianist whose is down on his luck. Also included are memories of Pandora and Edison's unusual childhood.

Pandora sends Fletcher a ticket for a visit out to Iowa. She and the entire family is shocked when Fletcher arrives. He has changed considerably since they last saw him. He is morbidly obese with habits that disgust the family and those around him.

Pandora takes it upon herself to help her brother lose weight. She leaves her family and moves into an apartment with Fletcher. They spend months turning his life and his weight around. At the end, however, a whole other twist is revealed.

Ostensibly, the book is a statement on obesity and its impact. That purpose, for me, was lost. For me, it's a story full of odd unlikable characters and an ending that leaves me with the reaction, "I read almost 400 pages for this. Why did I bother?" If you decide to read this book, do not read other reviews before hand. Most of them have spoilers. Then again, if I had read the spoiler, I probably would not have read the book.

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