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Big Brother: Brilliant family fiction from the award-winning author of We Need To Talk About Kevin

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I also had difficulty believing she and her husband - who is pretty much a total jerk - were ever happy. Yes, I understand the response that this is preventable, etcetera, but like depression, like other medical diagnoses, which can show in other ways, none of us know these strangers' stories. Maybe their names aren't so coincidental either: two famous discoverers whose "inventions" had both good and bad consequences. Shriver is brilliant on the novel shock that is hunger, on how it feels to lose the crucial sense of punctuation (and motivation) that mealtimes give you. The siblings’ love versus the married-couple’s love, for example, was an interesting and gutsy exploration.

Yet, Shriver's exploration of her main character, Pandora's closeness to her brother Edison and the scrutiny in which she examines the meaning of family, both familial and marital makes Big Brother worth reading. Pandora's decision, in the first place, to desert her husband for a year to live with her brother was ridiculous.As with all Shriver's novels, the best parts were the moral inquiries I will be turning over long after I turn over the last page. So what's extra unbelievable about this whole thing is that Edison supposedly exhibits his I'm-a-disgusting-slob person while in the house of not only an essential stranger (his brother-in-law), but also while being openly judged and loathed by said-stranger.

In Shriver's most recent novel she tackles the subject of obesity head on, writing what at times seems to be a how-to book on weight loss. I don’t want to be the kind of person that ranks people’s struggles on a scale-a struggle is a struggle, and reading Big Brother made this crystal clear to me. In fact, I sometimes wondered if the author was just trying to hit a word count rather than make a point.

Yet, during the 353 pages, Shriver makes the reader see all the problems of the obese: how they got to their obese weight; what a devastating life it is; how society treats the obese; how truly difficult it is to lose weight. But she would have felt a lot of sadness and regret about the situation, so the fantasy was like a tribute to him and a wish that things could have been different.

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