Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Middlesteins

The Middlesteins
by Jami Attenberg

Multiple generations of the Middlestein family populate Attenberg's novel.  Matriarch Edie's overeating threatens her life and creates a rift between her and the rest of the family--particularly her husband of thirty years, Richard, who has given up on her and moved out.  Their daughter Robin grapples with her feelings of resentment for her father and how to help save her mother from eating herself to death.  Robin's laid-back brother Benny is married to high-strung, health-conscious Rachelle, who is planning their twin children's extravagant b'nai mitzvah party while also worrying about Edie.

This is a realistic portrait of a family with all its complex personalities and problems.  The author saves the book from being a downer with her compassionate handling of the characters and her infusions of humor.