When Pandora arrives at the airport to collect her visiting brother, she overhears passengers at the baggage claim counter talking about the hugely obese passenger whose excessive presence they were forced to endure during the flight. She never dreams they are discussing her lanky, former track star brother. In fact, she doesn’t even recognize Edison when he arrives in a double wide wheelchair. Edison’s weight becomes the elephant in the room and house, and Fletcher’s intolerance for his jazz musician braggadocio and his weight puts a strain on Pando’s and Fletcher’s marriage. The family counts the days till Edison is scheduled to leave their Iowa home and to set forth on his musical tour of Spain. On the way to the airport, Edison admits that there is no tour, and presents Pandora with the decision of her life.
Shriver fills her novel with interesting secondary characters: Pandora’s and Edison’s father a former TV sitcom star whose ego remains over-inflated; Pandora’s stepson, an unrealistic budding screenwriter who thinks he doesn’t need to finish high school and her shy teen-aged stepdaughter who becomes Edison’s steadfast fan; the uncool and practical Solstice years younger than siblings Pando and Edison. If what I’ve written so far isn’t enough to pique your interest, how about this: just when the story is comfortably cruising down one path, it veers in a completely different direction. Shriver writes lyrically about the complications of spousal and sibling relationships, addiction, regret, and the lies we tell ourselves.