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.
Jeff Turrentine - Washington Post
Shriver is brilliant on the novel shock that is hunger.... Most of all, though, there’s her glorious, fearless, almost fanatically hard-working prose.
[Shriver] has a knack for conveying subtle shifts in family dynamics. . . . Ms Shriver offers some sage observations.... Yet her main gift as a novelist is a talent for coolly nailing down uncomfortable realities.
[Shriver’s] best work--Big Brother is her twelfth novel—presents characters so fully formed that they inhabit her ideas rather than trumpet them.
[A] delicious, highly readable novel...(which) raises challenging questions about how much a loving person can give to another without sacrificing his or her own well-being. (Five stars.)
Shriver consistently delivers whip-smart, often witty dialogue and pungent character insights that add powerful momentum to what, at its heart, remains a simple story. Only a writer of Shriver's talent and courage would attempt a denoument as daring as the one that plays out over the novel's last 15 pages. She succeeds by creating something that does much more than tie up plot threads and usher her characters off stage. Instead, she makes us appreciate anew how profound the emotional and psycological issues of family are, deepening our empathy along with admiration for the unquestionable skill she displays in doing it. —Harvey Freedenberg
Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin) returns to the family in this intelligent meditation on food, guilt, and the real (and imagined) debts we owe the ones we love.... In Big Brother, nothing reveals character more scathingly than food. Early in the book, the nearly 400-pound Edison arrives... [and] brings the novel energy as well as an occasionally unpalatable maudlin drama.... If this devotion and [his sister] Pandora’s increasing success with Edison’s diet plan sometimes seem chirpily false, a late reveal provides devastating justification.
Brilliantly imagined, beautifully written, and superbly entertaining, Shriver’s novel confronts readers with the decisive question: can we save our loved ones from themselves? A must-read for Shriver fans, this novel will win over new readers as well.
A woman is at a loss to control her morbidly obese brother in the latest feat of unflinching social observation from Shriver. Pandora, the narrator of this smartly turned novel, is a happily settled 40-something... But she's aghast to discover [her brother has] ballooned...to nearly 400 pounds.... The book is largely about weight and America's obesity epidemic.... But the book truly shines as a study of family relationships.... A masterful, page-turning study of complex relationships among our bodies, our minds and our families.
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