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Big Girls

Big Girls

3.5 6
by Susanna Moore

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Helen is serving a life sentence at Sloatsburg women's prison for the murder of her children.

Dr. Louise Forrest, a recently divorced mother of an eight-year-old boy, is the new chief of psychiatry there.

Captain Ike Bradshaw is the corrections officer who wants her.

And Angie, an ambitious Hollywood starlet contacted by Helen, is intent on nothing but

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Big Girls 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
eak321 More than 1 year ago
THE BIG GIRLS is not a novel about overweight women. It's a novel about life in the "Big House." You know -- prison. A women's prison, to be more specific. Well, it's not exactly a novel either. THE BIG GIRLS has no chapters. Instead, it's broken up into 2-3 paragraph segments, separated by spaces, each alternating between three points of view (POV). (I only read the first 50 pages, so if there are more POVs later on, I wouldn't know because I didn't care to read beyond that. But more about that later...) Each paragraph segment reads like a diary entry. So, basically, THE BIG GIRLS is a compilation of non-labeled diary entries. Of at least three women. And you have to guess whose is whose. It's fairly easy to tell whose entry you're reading each time, just by context, but that doesn't make the entries any more interesting to read. They're so short that by the time you understand what's going on and what they're talking about, the entry ends and you're onto someone else's entry, their different POV, and sometimes unrelated comments. I felt like I was reading diary entries of people I didn't know, who talked about other people I didn't know. There were points of view of a prison inmate, a prison psychologist, and a celebrity in Hollywood. Their names aren't important in this review, just as they weren't in the book. It's really hard to get into a book when you don't even know or care about the characters, especially if you're jumping around from one point of view and/or story to the next. Is this the work of a mature author? Not from my perspective. The book felt like it was thrown together from diary entries attempted in a high school writing composition class. Hardly worth the read by anyone other than their teachers. In fact, like I stated early, I stopped 50 pages into the short book (I refuse to call it a novel). And it was difficult even getting that far. That's how disinterested I was.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
The Big Girls is not easily read. It's a story that sears, discomfits, disturbs our complacency and, yes, sometimes amuses. We meet characters with psyches laid bare, stripped of any subterfuge or protective devices. Susanna Moore is s a noted writer ( One Last Look, In The Cut, Sleeping Beauties ) with a penchant for the psychological and she explores, better said, skillfully dissects minds. Her setting is New York's Sloatsburg Correctional Institute and her narrative is related in four voices. Dr. Louise Forrest has been the Chief Psychiatrist at Sloatsburg for some six months. At times, that feels more like a sentence to her than simply a period of time. She cannot adjust to the below standard conditions at the Institute nor to the incompetence of her fellow staff members, which is only compounded by their callousness. She's far too qualified for this position, leaving one to wonder what life experiences brought her there. A divorced mother, her one solace in life is a young son, Ransom. For reasons the reader takes to be compassion Louise is drawn to Helen, a prisoner and her patient. Helen is seriously afflicted she murdered her own children and hears voices. Further, her younger sister was given up for adoption yet Helen believes she has found her in the person of Angie Mills, a move star wannabe. One cannot help but feel pity for Helen as the details of her abusive childhood and adulthood are revealed. Especially poignant are her attempts to connect with Angie via mail. Angie, the third member of the narrative quartet, has her own agenda and it's all about promoting Angie any way she can. She's also involved with Louise's ex husband, Rafael. A fourth voice belongs to Ike Bradshaw, a former narcotics detective who is now a guard at Sloatsburg. He is attracted to Louise who reciprocates his feelings. How the lives of these four intersect, for good or ill, is the crux of the story. Susanna Moore has written a bold, powerful, sometimes violent novel not soon forgotten. - Gail Cooke
harstan More than 1 year ago
Six months of serving time at Sloatsburg Correctional Institution in upstate New York chief psychiatrist Dr. Louise Forrest still has not adjusted to the harsh conditions. The federal women¿s prison is as bleak a place as one can imagine with it being understaffed, which in turn means dangerous. Inmates like suicidal children¿s killer Helen Nash and corrections officer Captain Henry 'Ike' Bradshaw wonder why Louise stay at this foreboding dump when she can go anywhere.-------------------- Unbeknownst to those two and others, Louise has come here to hide from her own psychological baggage her solo joy in her grim lonely life is her son Ransom. However, Louise finds fascination in the case of Helen, who swears she was protecting her offspring from the voices of the ¿Messengers¿ that drive her actions. Helen believes that actress Angie Mills, the current girlfriend of Rafael, Louise¿s ex-husband, is her sister. Helen begins writing letters to Angie, Ike and Louise fall into to bed together only to be caught by Ransom, who tells his father the guard molested him. The six person pile-up has begun.-------------------- This character driven tale from the opening description of the prison setting grips the audience with a foreboding that disaster is imminent readers never let go of that dark gloomy feeling even after the tale is finished. The male characters seem more caricature than full blooded while the three prime females appear genuine with each having major issues including the actress who needs to believe that Helen is a sibling. Condemning the way America warehouses the mentally impaired especially the criminal subgroup, readers will appreciate this well written ominous drama.-------------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
I Can't say I was not warned, 'this book is not an easy read.' I could not finish this dark work. . . from the wonderfully talented, usually brilliant Moore. Something 'twisted' must have happened to Susanna Moore to produced The Big Girls. Nietzsche's words concerning the exploration of Evil--that it will corrupt/damage your own soul--took on new meaning--causing me to discard the book after reading less than half of it. Truly. Don't go there without walking in' fear and trembling.'