screenshot125 I have a love/hate relationship with Lionel Shriver’s books. When I read We Need To Talk About Kevin I emailed my friend Michelle and asked, “Am I ever going to LIKE this woman?” Michelle said probably not, but to keep reading because the story was good. And it was. And even though I never particularly liked Eva, I found myself really feeling for her. I liked it enough that when I saw Big Brother I thought chances were good for a compelling story.

Big Brother is the story of family. Pandora, her uber-health conscious husband and their children;and Edison, Pandora’s older and suddenly morbidly obese brother.  Family dynamics play a huge role in the story- Pandora and Edison’s relationship; Pandora and Fletcher; Pandora and Edison and their parents.   It examine’s society’s treatment of the severely overweight.  It’s uncomfortable in a number of places.  It brings into question body image and health and how much of our esteem is tied to how we look.  It’s almost a really good book.

I say almost because Shriver gave us 353 pages of an interesting, at times compelling, at times uncomfortable, and often thought-provoking story and then throws in a plot twist that made me want to throw the book across the room. I invested time in these characters and I felt slighted by the ending. I’ll spoil it if I say too much, but really, I want those hours back. Had the book ended on page 360, it would have been a disappointing but realistic (as life often is) ending. But when that twist comes, I felt like I had been duped. Perhaps that is a metaphor for Pandora lying to herself, or assuaging her own guilt, but it left me disappointed.

I found Big Brother easier to get into than We Need To Talk About Kevin and others may not be so disenchanted with the ending as I was, but for this one, I have to say I warned you if you don’t like the ending.