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Big Brother: Brilliant family fiction from the award-winning author of We Need To Talk About Kevin

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Shriver commits this rather bizarre seppuku in the final twenty pages of the novel, erasing all the characters and what little enjoyment I did derive from the book. Curiously, the marriage itself never troubles the protagonist, beyond some spousal kvetching followed swiftly by classic, Shriverian foreboding. Sentences that read like Couldn't have done it; wouldn't have made sense are deadening in large, repeated doses.

In Big Brother, Shriver takes a good hard look at the lives of children of television stars, modern society's fixation with the 'body beautiful' and gives some startling weight loss facts. 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. It doesn’t convey the the emotions ABOUT NOT UNDERSTANDING OBESITY, the denial, the relationships within a family, addiction itself, the ‘walking on eggshells’ of suppressed communications, the huge food budget, food, from hunger from the lack of it.But there's poetry too: she relishes the precise flavour and power of one word next to another, and the result is writing of a beauty and character that is lamentably missing from so much of the fuzzy-lazy meandering that these days passes for literary fiction. As the years have passed, more of her titles have joined the ranks in my To-Be-Read stacks, but this is this novel’s intriguing premise made me unable to resist immediately reading it.

The main protagonist and narrator of Big Brother is Pandora, a name that means, "gifted," and/or "the all-giving.There are glimpses of good writing, but overall, I had had my fill of this book well before it ended. And then they finally wind down and sit down and you are watching the special again, and just as you start getting into the special, s/he gets back up again and does it all over again. It's like one of my students writing, thinking that the more SAT words cramped into a sentence the better. It might have been much more powerful if she had written her brother's story in a straightforward way.

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