The premise of the story told in Big Brother sounded very interesting to me. A woman risks losing everything to help her obese brother lose weight. But the ridiculousness of the details...from last names like "Halfdanarson" and "Appaloosa" (seroiusly--even though it's a stage name?) to a jazz pianist who put the words "man," "cats" and "dig?" into every sentence....really soured the whole story for me. It was a good premise that ended up falling flat because it lost its realism for me and became very stilted. I couldn't focus on the story because those things grated on me so much.
At the point that Pandora, the lead character, takes her obese brother Edison under her wing, I was also amazed by the idea that the two could just cold-turkey diet on protein powder drinks of a mere 500 calories or so a day. No exercise, God forbid. I kept wondering to myself...what does Pandora think that Edison is going to do once she helps him lose this weight? He won't have learned a thing because no one has taught him the importance of moderation and exercise. It just seemed so implausible to me.
And then...there were the preachy sections that were inserted into the story. Long diatribes about obesity and food that seemingly came out of nowhere. Talk about interrupting the story's flow.
I think that Shriver needed to add a dose of realism to this story. I understand that she lost a brother due to complications of obesity, so it does surprise me that this book had so many unrealistic elements. Also, she needs to omit the long-winded speeches about food and obesity. I understand this was probably a cathartic exercise for her, but it didn't do the book any favors.
The narrator's performance was decent. I wouldn't say it was the best or the worst that I've ever read.
I don't think I would cut any characters from the book, as they all have their place in the story. However, Pandora's character was not very sympathetic. She goes from doormat to suddenly moving out of her house to live with her brother, risking her marriage--something she's tiptoed around for quite some time. And then Edison....I found myself wanting to kick him. I had a really hard time feeling sorry for someone who was so self-centered, even if he was grossly overweight.
I don't think of myself as a huge fan of historical fiction, but this book was really great. I agree that if you liked "The Help," you will also enjoy this book. The only flaw I could see was that the last few chapters seemed very rushed, without the tremendous attention to detail and character development typical of the vast majority of the novel. I still give it a big thumbs up! Unlike some historical fiction, the characters were so well drawn out that it was easy to relate to them even when living in an entirely different time. You understood their motivations, their hopes and their dreams. I will listen to this book again, I am certain!
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