(101)Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

Monday, December 16, 2013

Big Brother

Pages: 373
Publication Date: June 4, 2013

When Pandora hears that her jazz musician of a brother has fallen on hard times, she doesn't even think twice before sending him a plane ticket and money to come visit.   It has been four years since she has seen her big brother, Edison and a lot has happened since then.   For one thing, Pandora stumbled into a multi-million dollar business. And when Edison approaches her in the airport she is shocked to discover he has put on several hundred pounds.  Inviting Edison to her home  has disrupted the scheduled order that her husband demands and now having Edison there not only has put a strain on their furniture, but their marriage as well.  Pandora decides that she cannot let her brother continue on and offers him a chance to lose the weight.  Together they move into a small apartment with the sole purpose losing weight.   Is the love of a little sister enough to help a big brother change his life?

In my homesick state of mind, I was ecstatic to find that Big Brother is set in Iowa.  It was a unique middle ground as Edison is a "big dog" in the New York City jazz scene and they both grew up in the shadow of their television star father in Hollywood.  Iowa was the "normal" they visited when sent to spend summers with their Grandparents.  Pandora is the middle child of her family and as a middle child, I could see some qualities that I recognize in myself.  Like the way she was continuously trying to make peace between her husband and Edison. It was a tense situation, but she just wanted both of the men in her life to get along.  I could see both her side and her husband's side as Edison wasn't exactly easy to love at times.   Pandora's effort to help her brother went beyond the norm, she put her marriage at risk to try and save her brother.  I understand why she did it, but I also was fearful for her and felt sorry for her husband the way he was kind of cast aside during the process.   Ultimately, it was fascinating to watch the entire process in the story.   And while the outcome was not exactly what I expected (in fact it was a  bit shocking) it was much more realistic than what I first thought.

Bottom line, Lionel Shriver has been a fan favorite for book clubs all over the world for many years now.   Big Brother is just next in the line to capture the minds of readers and stimulate conversations.  Big Brother is a novel that focuses on family, struggle, hope and love.  Have you read Big Brother?  What did you think?

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