- Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
Pandora is married to Fletcher and helping raise her step-children as her own. She used to run a catering company but a silly birthday gift turned into a toy empire and she's done very well over the recent years (though expects the fad to fizzle in time). Fletcher is a brilliant artist who makes the type of furniture that take love and time. He's also health and fitness obsessed, sometimes in an unhealthy manner.
When Pandora picks up her brother,Edison, at the small town's airport, she's shocked to see he's put on a LOT of weight (hundreds of pounds, making him tough to recognize). He's developed sloppy habits on top of his constant extreme eating. His visit is tough on the family and Fletcher is counting the days till he leaves while Pandora is getting increasingly worried. At the end of the first segment, and I won't go further than that), Pandora begins plans to move into an apartment with Fletcher, leaving behind an angry husband, and help him lose the weight through an intensive diet plan and, later, exercise.
I feel mixed about this book. I'd given four stars to one of Shriver's prior works, but only two for a second. The frank discussion brought up so many issues, which i liked since obesity is an issue that I've thought about.a lot. What bugged me was some of the stereotyping....of course, hes also started becoming sloppy and a bit rude. I appreciated the discussions on diets go too far, though that issue wrapped to quickly for one character and didn't seem to focus enough on another, Another plus was the portrayal of the teens. Thanks to Harper for the advance copy!
I'll go with 3 - 3.5 of 5 stars.
- Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel
Georgia has just left the midwest and is returning to her native Miami, along with her husband, Graham, and 3 year-old son, Frankie. The book hints that a bad moment led to the move, which ultimately lands them on a houseboat docked behind her father/step-mother's home. Even prior to the events surrounding the move, Frankie had stopped talking completely, though he can hear and communicates via sign language.
There are several issues running through the book. Frankie is still mourning her mother, a loss made more clear by being back in Florida. Frankie met Graham at a sleep center they call Detention; Georgia had pretty bad insomnia but Graham's issues was/is more complex and dangerous to him and those nearby. The issue of Frankie's lack of speech leads to some difficult appointments that press on Georgia. Then there's Georgia's part-time job in Stiltsville (a collection of homes set in the water and built on stilts, boats are the only way out of a home), where she meets Charlie with whom she develops a connection.
I enjoyed this book. I liked the development of the characters, all having some imperfection. However, towards the end another story/issue develops and it just felt too thrown in there for me. I did, however, appreciate the ultimate ending. 3.5 to 4 stars (of 5). Character driven novel, not a taxing read but did provoke thought.
Harper provided me an advance reader's copy for this review but the opinions are my own.