Pete Dizinoff has spent years working toward a life that would be, by all measures, deemed successful. A skilled internist, he's built a thriving practice in suburban New Jersey. He has a devoted wife, a network of close friends, and an impressive house. And most important, he has a son, Alec, on whom he's pinned all his hopes. Pete has afforded Alec every opportunity, bailed him out of close calls with the law, and even ensured his acceptance into a good college.But Pete never counted on the wild card: Laura, his best friend's daughter - 10 years older than Alec, irresistibly beautiful, with a past so shocking that it's never spoken of. When Laura sets her sights on Alec, Pete sees his plans for his son not just unraveling but being destroyed completely. Believing he has only the best of intentions, he sets out to derail this romance and rescue his son. He could never have foreseen how his whole world would shatter in the process.Lauren Grodstein delivers a riveting story in the tradition of The Ice Storm, American Beauty, and Little Children, charting a father's fall from grace as he struggles to save his family, his reputation, and himself.More
Pete Dizinoff has lived his life doing what he believes is right; he's a good doctor, loyal friend, loving husband, and caring father. He and his wife, Elaine, have in many ways lived lives parallel to those of their best friends, Joe and Iris Stern. The two couples went to college together and settled in the same New Jersey town, but the Sterns have prospered slightly more than the Dizinoffs. Iris has a successful and lucrative career and Joe, also a doctor, has a taste for more exotic patients and diseases. While the Sterns were starting their family, with four children, Pete and Elaine struggled to have any children at all. The large home they bought in anticipation of multiple children came to symbolize their failed attempts at conception and pregnancy, which makes their only son, Alec, all the more precious to them.
When the Sterns' oldest daughter, Laura, commits a horrific and ineffable act, the Dizinoffs stand by their side, despite Pete's disgust and judgement. Laura, 17 at the time, escapes incarceration, but is sent away for psychiatric help. Now she's 30 years old, and has returned to New Jersey. Pete watches in horror as she and Alec, now 20, begin to date. Alec is not living up to his father's plans for him: he's dropped out of college, living at home, and spending his free time with a woman his father considers to be a criminal and a murderer.
Among narrator Rick Adamson's talents is creating extremely distinct voices for each of the characters, whose long exchanges sound genuinely like conversations between different people. His portrayal of these characters so appropriately reflects Grodstein's depiction of them that it's impossible not to get sucked into the story. He transitions smoothly from Pete's stern voice to Elaine's delicacy, and again from Alec's bratty adolescence to Laura's coolness. His ability to speak in Pete's voice is especially convincing, adding to the complexity the listener feels towards the protagonist, who despite making mistakes never seems unrational. Adamson puts us in Pete's psyche so effectively that even his worse flaws are subverted in his sense of logic and morality, so that he is never rendered unsympathetic. Pete's life is not everything he wanted it to be, but given the sacrifices he's made for his family, why can't Alec be the son his father wants him to be? Erin Ikeler
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