I was fresh out of books and went searching the best sellers on my Kindle. I’d heard of “Big Brother” by Lionel Shriver for a few weeks and it piqued my interest. I knew only that the title referred to actual morbidly obese person with a major food addiction.
You can imagine this kind of subject matter gets my attention. I bought it wondering how one writes a fiction book about this and makes it interesting. I wondered what insight the author may have gotten into the world of obesity and living with hardcore binge eating disorder.
Unfortunately, I was fairly disappointed. The writing was decent but I found myself cringing at choice of language, unnecessary scenes and unrealistic portrayals of obesity. While I’m not and never have been obese, I do know what binging is, I know what “food addiction” feels like. Yeah, it’s gross and you’d never want anyone to see you in the middle of a binge. But being a binge eater doesn’t mean every time you eat, you are gross and disgusting.
The author portrays her character’s obese brother as using half a bottle of creamer in his morning coffee, of housing most of the family dinner each night, of eating everything out of the cabinets all of the time with no regard for his sister’s home, where he is staying. He spends all their money, disregards his brother-in-laws wishes and more.
In my opinion, the author equates being morbidly obese with being gross, lazy, sloppy, rude and obtuse. These are awful stereotypes that don’t reflect on all morbidly obese people. By slapping them all together on one character, you have a trifecta of insults.
Additionally, the main sister character is so irritatingly enabling. She caters to her brother like he’s a child, she won’t tel him he’s rude or ruining her marriage by living with them. She has no spine and their brother-sister relationship is downright inappropriate. It makes you squirm in your reading chair for sure.
I won’t ruin the ending, which is…totally stupid if you ask me, but if I were a morbidly obese individual reading this book, I’d be offended at the character’s portrayal. Not a totally bad read but part of me is irritated that I wasted my time in such unpleasant scenes, especially considering the end of the story.
Let me know if you’ve read it or plan to. I’d love to hear others feedback.