The Big Girls
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The Big Girls

3.04 of 5 stars 3.04  ·  rating details  ·  506 ratings  ·  106 reviews
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 fame.

Drawing these...more
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Published May 1st 2007 by Vintage (first published 2007)
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Jessica
This story, told entirely in interwoven monologues in which the speaker is not identified, takes place in and around a women's prison in which Helen, who endured a lifetime of sexual abuse by her stepfather, is imprisoned for life for killing her children because "the Messengers" told her to do it. Her prison psychiatrist is barely more stable, but for reasons we never really understand, she's squeaked through a lifetime of nearly as many troubles to hold down a more-or-less steady job. Other mo...more
Marsena Dufresne
I was disappointed in this book; I had heard good things about it. It features four different points of view, but the author didn't supply any markers to indicate who was speaking, other than a break in the text. Almost every time it switched pov (which was often), I had to stop and figure out who was speaking. I found that very annoying. I suppose the author might have been trying to give the reader a sense of what it's like to be insane and confused, but I spent more time out of the story than...more
Debbi
THE BIG GIRLS doesn't grab you so much as seduce you into reading it. The story is about four people whose lives overlap in odd and interesting ways. It tackles issues like family, fortune (or the lack of it), coincidence and fate.

The book starts off from the point of view of Dr. Louise Forrest, the new chief of psychiatry at a women's prison. The narrative then switches to Helen, a schizophrenic inmate who's committed a crime so heinous, she's kept apart from the other prisoners at first. Helen...more
jo
Sep 29, 2007 jo rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: those interested in women in prison, psychiatry, and women who kill their kids
Shelves: psychic-pain
i fear this slim book is loaded with more weight than it can bear. it tackles the issue of women and violence from a number of angles, including: women's violence against their abusers and against their children; women's mental illness; women and psychiatry; women in prison; the violence of women on women; the gross mistreatment of women on the part of the judicial system. this last is probably the crux of the book. all the women in this book are disturbed, and their being disturbed is analyzed...more
Allison
depressing, depressing, and not even well done. the only redeeming factor is that it is written in four voices, so the reader is allowed to see each character from multiple points of view. however, the plot, which could be so compelling ( a women's prison, the prison shrink, the guard who has an affair with her, the would-be Hollywood actress who is living with the shrink's ex-husband) ends up being fragmented and boring. I was very disappointed, because I loved In the Cut by Susanna Moore (whic...more
Isabella
The story is told from four different perspectives. Ultimately, I was only interested in one of them - Helen's.

The other two story lines by her psychiatrist and the correctional officer were intersting enough, I guess. I absolutely could have done without Angie's story. I seemed out of place and I feel the overall telling would have benefited if that particular part would have been told through, say, Rafael's voice (or not at all).

The constant changing of tone never gave me a change to really ge...more
Anna
Okay, I had to read this book because I wanted to see if it was really as bad as Lea said it was. Usually I have similar taste to my friends so I figured, why not.

Short answer: yes, it really is not good. I did read the whole thing but by the end I definitely did not care anymore. All the characters blended together into this...thing...that was just not interesting. Unfortunate, because the premise was interesting.
Lea
I think this book was extremely well researched and... interesting subject matter I suppose but I HATED IT. I hated it. It was like Law and Order: SVU exploded in a book only without cops. Just lots and lots of victims. Who knew there could be so much dysfunction in one place?

Glad I'm such a sucker that I just powered through and finished it though, it takes a lot for me to drop a book.
Eric Klee
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...more
Jennifer
It's difficult to say what I think about this book, The Big Girls by Susanna Moore, because I'm not exactly sure. On one hand, I thought the author's writing style was beautiful, and the stories told were interestingly told in a unique way. But I have a few problems with the work.

The book is told from the point of view of the four main characters. The author skips from one to another, sometimes after as little as a paragraph. The author, in my opinion, was not able to instantiate each of the fou...more
Clare
Sep 21, 2007 Clare rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: women especially
As a therapist, I enjoy books about therapists, psychiatrists, and psychiatric patients. The Big Girls is about a woman in prison for murdering her own children. It reminded me very much of the story of the woman in Texas who drowned her five children and may have well been inspired by that incident.
Helen, the patient, is self-loathing but as we read about her crime and the events that led her to it, we begin to look at Helen in a different way. The ways in which Dr. Forrest, the psychiatrist,...more
Sara
I just finished this book, and I honestly don't know if I liked it or not. It was.... it has a very dark view of people in general, and women in particular. Everyone is a creep or criminal or phoney, or downright insane, in some cases. The book has four voices: a woman who's incarcerated for killing her kids, and schizophrenic as well, that woman's psychiatrist, the psychiatrist's boyfriend, and the psychiatrist's ex-husband's new girlfriend. The most... reliable, likable, authentic voices were...more
Ocean
the thing that bothered me the most about this book was its inaccuracies. like how the one of the characters mentioned getting money in the mail from strangers--but she's in prison, and NO cash could be directly sent to any prison in the world. or the thing where a character was trying to feed a mouse to her iguana--what?! aren't iguanas vegetarians? this book was published in 2007, well into the era of google, so there's no real excuse besides laziness..
at the beginning, this book held promise....more
Michelle Tackabery
I found this book to extraordinarily intelligent and compelling at the beginning, as I expected from what I have read of Moore's other books, especially her masterpiece, In the Cut. However, I'm starting to think that her narrating protagonists are all starting to be the same type: super-intelligent females unable to stop themselves from becoming sexually involved with poorly educated, dangerous, working-class men unpossessed of any moral compass. The male one of the narrators gets involved with...more
Carol
The Big Girls is an amazing novel (the only one I've ever read that had no dialogue). The story is set in a maximum security women's prison in upstate New York. It is told through the points of view from several different people and delves into the notion that the criminal in the cell is no different from the shrink, guard, movie star, or warden. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to go deep and have to think about the fictional world presented by Ms. Moore. The story simply transce...more
Holly
I bought this book at my son's school book sale and will likely donate it/sell it back to a used bookstore soon. It's too disturbing to keep on my shelf. A book about a woman sentenced to life in prison for killing her children in what was presumably a fit of post-partum depression, and the prison psychiatrist who treats her in prison. It's a disturbing look inside of women's prisons, although probably tamed somewhat in exchange to devote more time to character development. The book is short and...more
Shelley Fearn
I can't believe that this rates just over 3 stars. Thank goodness a couple rated it with 5 stars or judging from the reviews, it would be a flop.

Don't be put off by any reviews though. Just because a book doesn't grab you by the throat with exciting, sexy, or humorous prose doesn't mean the work has no merit. This is a sparsely told tale. It uses 4 different voices to move the story along. I won't say plot because in the meaning that we normally use the idea of plot there really isn't one. It si...more
Cecilia
Moore’s prison novel is told from four perspectives—a woman who has murdered her children, her prison psychiatrist, a prison guard and a young actress. It is graphic, unsettling and mostly unbelievable. You must buy into the precept that everyone has had a traumatic sexual experience such as incest abuse or rape in their life. I enjoy a challenging book that deals with a difficult topic, but I must on some level be able to believe the characters and the story. I never did with this novel. I thin...more
Alison
This book is told from four points of view, which is a good thing to know going in as it's not immediately obvious. The chapters alternate the story from character to character, and naturally they are all tied together in some way. Most of the action takes place at a women's prison, and the characters we meet there are a prisoner, therapist and guard. The fourth character is a starlet in LA, who we eventually discover is tied to two of the others. Thinking about it now, not a whole lot happens i...more
Judy
Each section of this book is told from a different person's point of view, but they aren't identified. You have to just sort of figure it out. Normally that type of thing would drive me to distraction, but it really worked for this book. The different people's lives overlap and come together in random connections. The main setting is a woman's prison and the main character is the new prison psychiatrist, who has some serious issues of her own. The issues discussed are love and motherhood and how...more
Laura
What a bleak, depressing novel. But excellently written. I couldn't put it down.

The different viewpoints were confusing to jump in between, as the author made no special effort to identify her speaker in the different passages.

Regardless, the storyline was interesting. The various themes in this novel made me cringe with discomfort and unhappiness. I wished with all my heart these sad people and situations didn't really exist, but I know they do. Moore makes her characters' lives so real that I...more
Rosita Jimenez-nunez
The book tells a story of a woman in prison for killing her children and prison life.I thought it was going to be really fast paced since I like watching crime scene shows and prison life shows,but I dont know.....this book is ok. I dont like how the author doesnt set up for you whos talking. there are several characters in the book that are intertwined and I catch myself trying to figure out 'what character is this now?'. Im hoping it picks up. I cant say its terrible, I still want to finish it...more
Lilli
Oct 07, 2007 Lilli rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: psychofilics (is that a word?)
this is a very quick read--written from four perspectives. i had a hard time putting in down, but over all found the structure and storyline a little contrived for my taste. it's a great book for people who like to read about people struggling with mental illnesses. one of the main characters/narrators is serving a life sentence for filicide and also suffers from major delusions. none of the characters are terribly sympathetic, but some of the insights are interesting...if you are interested in...more
Patricia
The Big Girls is a book about a psychologist, her life, her work and the people connected to her. There were a lot of personas in the book. I got really confused while I was reading the book because there were no indication that this person is narrating or the psychologist was the one narrating. But it was a good book. You shouldn’t put it down even if it bores you. The best part was in the last pages. And I admit that it kept me hanging.
It was a good book, especially for adults. I guess it’s...more
Sally Kenney
Strangely like In the Cut, the narrator is a psychologist who works in a women's prison. Addresses the question of whom to believe about allegations of child sexual abuse. A very clever introspective narrator who can't quite fit in, yet has compassion for the women prisoners, unlike most of her peers. Made me think a lot about Bad Girls and whether people can be so irretrievably damaged that they are unsalvageable as well as dangerous. The economy of characters was just a little too neat, and it...more
Kira
TBG is like a Lionel Shriver novel without all the nuance, or character development, or wildly skilled (intimidatingly skilled) presentation of thought-provoking issues. It’s mostly just a novel, with moderately gloomy characters and moderately sinister overtones. It’s a bummer, but not in any sort of innovative way. It’s, I don’t know, meh.

[FULL REVIEW]
Susan
I really didn't care for this one, but only because I felt like the author didn't quite know what to do with her characters. Telling a story about a women's prison from different points of view is a great concept, but she isn't successful. She relies too much on the psychiatrist, and even then I felt like I didn't really know what her motivations were. Helen, the insane inmate, is fascinating, but she ruins that story with the introduction of her obsession with a movie star. And the story never...more
Angela
I'm not sure how this book came to be on my bookshelf. I don't remember buying it, but yet, there it was for me to read. I'm so glad I did. This is a great book. Great characters. My only complaint was that the book switched between characters without warning and most was first person, so, especially in the beginning, it was a bit difficult to follow who you were reading about. However, I don't know if the book would have worked any other way, so I guess one just needs to pay good attention when...more
Kate
It's a strange quadrangle of psychosis: the mother imprisoned for murdering her two children, the prison psychiatrist treating her, the prison guard falling for the psychiatrist, and a Hollywood actress poised to make it big off their story. Nothing about this book was very interesting: prison antics, lovers' spats, child abuse, failed marriages. Who cares? I read about this sordid stuff every day, so if you're going to put in between the covers of a book it'd better be pretty damn remarkable. (...more
Cody Wilshire
This was kind of like a mix of Girl, Interrupted and an episode of Law and Order SVU and a soap opera. At times I loved it and was ridiculously intrigued, but other times...it lagged a bit. Certain areas could have been more developed, others could have used less. I was surprised by one of the events toward the end, and bored by another. It definitely makes you think though, about yourself, your reactions to situations and the way you relate to people. I suppose it's all about what you take away...more
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weird???? 2 19 Aug 23, 2008 07:52PM  
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Susanna Moore is the author of the novels One Last Look, In the Cut, The Whiteness of Bones, Sleeping Beauties, and My Old Sweetheart, which won the Ernest Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for First Fiction, and the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her nonfiction travel book, I Myself Have Seen It, was published by the National Geographic Society in...more
More about Susanna Moore...
In the Cut The Life of Objects The Whiteness of Bones My Old Sweetheart One Last Look

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