— People, People Pick (5 Stars)
For Pandora, cooking is a form of love. Alas, her husband,
Fletcher, a self-employed cabinetmaker who crafts high-end, one-of-a-kind
furniture, now spurns the “toxic” dishes that he’d savored through their
courtship, and loses hours a day to manic cycling. But the couple’s
comfortable, if sometimes strained, routine is about to implode. When Pandora
picks up her older brother Edison at her local Iowa airport, she literally
doesn’t recognize him. In the four years since the grown siblings last saw
one another, the once slim, hip New York jazz pianist has gained hundreds of
pounds. What happened?
And it’s not just the weight; Edison interjects himself into Pandora’s world: breaking Fletcher’s handiwork, making massive breakfasts for the family, enticing her stepson not only to forgo college but to drop out of high school.
After the brother-in-law has more than overstayed his welcome, Fletcher delivers his wife an ultimatum: it’s him or me. Putting her marriage and her adopted family on the line, Pandora chooses her brother—who, without her support in losing weight, will surely eat himself into an early grave.
Rich with Shriver’s distinctive wit and ferocious energy, Big Brother is about fat: an issue both social and excruciatingly personal. It asks just how much sacrifice we'll make to save single members of our families, and whether it's ever possible to save loved ones from themselves.
“As a writer, Shriver’s talents are many: She’s especially
skilled at playing with readers’ reflexes for sympathy and revulsion, never
letting us get too comfortable with whatever firm understanding we think we
have of a character.”
— Washington Post
“Big Brother is vintage Shriver - observant, unsettling, funny, but also, as Pandora admits, ‘Very, very sad.’”
— Miami Herald