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When Richard abandons his wife, it is up to the next generation to take control. Robin, their schoolteacher daughter, is determined that her father pay for leaving Edie. Benny, an easy-going, pot-smoking family man, just wants to smooth things over. And Rachelle - a whippet thin perfectionist - is intent on saving her mother-in-law's life, but this task proves even bigger than planning her twin children's spectacular b'nai mitzvah party. Through it all, they wonder: do Edie's devastating choices rest on her shoulders alone? Or are others at fault, too?
With pitch-perfect prose, huge compassion, and sly humor, Jami Attenberg has given us an epic story of marriage, family, and obsession. The Middlesteins explores the hopes and heartbreaks of new and old love, the yearnings of Midwestern America, and our devastating, fascinating preoccupation with food.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Marjee on 10-31-12
Ended too soon
I heard this book reviewed on NPR and was happy to see that it was available on Audible. The NPR review mentioned Attenberg's unflinchingly honest character portrayals and that piqued my interest. During several of the first chapters, I wasn't sure if I really liked the book, or if I was easily delighted by the amazingly accurate portrayal of life on the North side of the Chicago metro area. I'm originally from there, and the detail the author paints on that setting is so realistic, I felt like I was home for the holidays.
But as I got to the end of the book, I can confirm that it was the story in its entirety that charmed me. To be sure, I was left wanting so much more. It felt like it ended too soon, I wanted to know so much more about the characters past and present. That is bad news for me, but a credit to the author. Speaking of credits, I usually download really long tomes to get my credit worth in Audible, so this was an usually short book for me.
Ringwald did a nice job narrating. She was a little bit stilted at times, but it did not interfere with my enjoyment of this book and the sound of her voice likely contributed to the overall nostalgia I experienced visiting Superdogs on Milwaukee, Wicker Park, and Polish nail salons in Skokie.
11 of 11 people found this review helpful
By Ella on 01-17-13
A Slice of Life
Having struggled with weight and also being Jewish, allowed me to really identify with the book. I too remember the Weight Watcher "tips" like removing the center piece of bread from a Big Mac to save calories. I too have been to many Bar/Bar Mitzvah's where the elaborate affair overshadowed what the Bar Mitzvah ceremony was all about. I too know of many dysfunctional families, as a matter of fact, I don't know too many who aren't. With all this identifying, I still couldn't really make a connection to the characters in Attenberg's book. The closest I came was to the protagonist Edie, the one who was eating herself to death. But Edie is an extreme case. Even being diabetic, having to go through surgery after surgery, having her husband Richard leave her, having her children and grandchildren look at her with pity and repulsion, did not deter Edie from even one dish of Chinese food. Edie had an addiction and she just couldn't stop. At times I felt a little nauseous "watching" her eat. There was a moral to the story though, you can't help someone who doesn't want to to be helped. Even though the book hit a nerve, I didn't love the black comedy, I barely liked it.
Molly Ringwald did an average narration, maybe if I had read this one instead of listening I would have liked it better.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful