Big Brother

Big Brother

A Novel

Book - 2013
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From the acclaimed author of the National Book Award finalist So Much for That and the international bestseller We Need to Talk About Kevin comes a striking new novel about siblings, marriage and obesity

For Pandora, food is central to life, so central that she sometimes wonders if "She foraged" should be engraved on her tombstone. For her husband, Fletcher, a self-employed cabinetmaker who crafts lovely but unaffordable one-of-a-kind furniture, exercise is paramount: he spends hours a day cycling. But the couple's comfortable, if sometimes strained, routine is about to be irrevocably changed with the arrival of Pandora's big brother, Edison, who is now three times the size he was when the siblings last saw each other. He is, in fact, morbidly obese.

And it's not just the weight. Edison interjects himself into Pandora's world--breaking Fletcher's handiwork, making massive breakfasts for the family and, most disconcertingly, forming a bond with Pandora's stepchildren and opening doors to the past and to her parents that she would rather keep shut.

Determined to keep her family together, and to confront the literal elephant in the room, Pandora embarks on a challenge: she'll find an apartment for Edison, move in with him and support him financially, but only if he loses weight--enough weight to resemble the person he once was. It will be the hardest thing that Edison has ever done. The result is a series of transformations so shocking that it throws the family into chaos and presents Pandora with a challenge of her own: do you sometimes have to choose between the family you're born into and the one you've created?

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, c2013
Edition: 1st Cdn ed
ISBN: 9781554682034
Branch Call Number: SHR
Characteristics: 373 p. ;,24 cm


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Manateestarz Jun 11, 2016

I really loved the author's book The Post Birthday World,so I thought I would give this title a try. The way that the author deals with a social problem, the growing obesity epidemic, is interesting. But, while the relationship between Edison and Pandora is worth reading about, the other characters never come across as fully developed. Still, a light, worthwhile read. It is not her best novel.

Aug 10, 2015

I thought the storyline was interesting and almost believable but the ending ruined the whole story for me.

Dec 06, 2014

A novel about north American obsession - losing weight. What does it really take to lose half your weight? First of all, it takes family support, that somebody cares.

Sep 21, 2014

I agree with many of the other reviewers -- the book's final twist feels a bit like a cop-out. Still, I made it to the end, which says something. For me, the most interesting part of the book was the narrator, Pandora, who clearly suffers from a Savior complex -- fantasizing about how she alone could save her brother from herself.

This novel is worth reading if you're interested in eating disorders or codependence. Otherwise, I'm not sure the story has wide appeal.

Dec 23, 2013

Featuring unlikeable, one-dimensional characters and heavy-handed clichés with an obvious message, this book is a complete waste of time. Before long I'd had enough, I started skimming, and I have no regrets, especially when Shriver employed an unforgivable plot device near the end. The message concerns bigotry against the obese. The author should stick to non-fiction exposition and stop trying to dress this stuff up as art in the form of a novel

Dec 19, 2013

While written in the same absorbing style as the hard-to-put-down We Need To Talk About Kevin, the final section of this engrossing novel deflates the excellence of the proceeding chapters. A thoroughly invigorating journey which arrives at a somewhat lacklustre ending, this is still worth a read for any fan of fiction about the mechanics of dysfunctional families.

jeanner222 Oct 09, 2013

Pandora Halfdanarson is obsessed with two things: food and family. These obsessions are brought to light when her older brother, Edison, comes to Iowa for an extended visit.

Once a successful jazz pianist, Edison is now down on his luck and up on the scales. Up is a nice way to say it. When Pandora last saw him, he weighed around 163. He now tips the scale at 386. Those 386 pounds can only mean trouble for the Halfdanarson siblings. . .

You see, Pandora is married to a health nut. Fletcher eats little and cycles obsessively. He also makes furniture that is more art than function. And when I say that, I mean that none of his pieces could ever bear the weight of his brother-in-law. A health nut + his fragile furniture + a couple of teenaged stepchildren = lots of family fun for Edison and his sister. Not.

I do not want to spoil the rest of the novel’s plot. I will tell you that Pandora desperately wants to help her ailing brother. She would do anything for him. Anything.

Read this for Shriver’s examination of family dynamics, as well as her take on America’s obsession with food. It is interesting.

And prepare yourself to be just a little disappointed with the novel’s ending. Shame on you, Ms. Shriver!

Jane60201 Oct 02, 2013

I thought the first part of the book was kind of conventional and almost stopped. However, it picked up in the second section and was, I thought, quite a believable success story. The third part was the philosophical comment on the first and second part themes and tied the book together.

Sep 29, 2013

This is a dark and depressing, judgemental story. Gave it 50 pages; got more depressed by the minute, gave it up. Sad and dark book.

Sep 09, 2013

I gave it 85 pages and nothing was happening. Life is too short - time to move on to another book.

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