On my bookshelf: Big Brother – Lionel Shriver

You know when you have those dreams, where you know that you’ve woken up but you can’t stop thinking about whatever it was that you dreamt about? This book was like that for me. It tells the story of Pandora, whose brother, unemployed jazz musician Edison, comes to stay. In the preceding years since they have seen each other Edison has put on 200lbs, and is now morbidly obese.

An interesting subject matter, and one that resonates with so many issues today: emotional eating, junk food addiction, fad diets, eating disorders. Possibly not one to read if you have issues with food yourself; perhaps this is why it lingered with me so long. An image near the end of the book in particular hit me so hard, I had to put it down for a while, and it definitely brought me to tears more than once. In amongst all of this is the relationship between Pandora and Edison, and her husband and children, and just how far you can go for family.

Like ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’, I’m not sure I’ll read this one again. The story was so intense and I became so engrossed with the dark (I suppose you could say ‘morbid’) subject matter that it left me almost breathless by the end. The third section, an epilogue of sorts, asks more questions than it resolves, and makes you re-think some of the earlier scenes, double checking what you have read and being reminded even more of just how messed up our (by which I mean the western world) relationship with food has become.

A solid 8/10.

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