The Middlesteins

  • by Jami Attenberg
  • Narrated by Molly Ringwald
  • 6 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

For more than 30 years, Edie and Richard Middlestein shared a solid family life together in the suburbs of Chicago. But now things are splintering apart, for one reason, it seems: Edie's enormous girth. She's obsessed with food - thinking about it, eating it - and if she doesn't stop, she won't have much longer to live.
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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Edie: Rhymes with Eatie

I am giving this book a "3" because it is so readable and relatable. However, I must say that I found myself aligning with Richard, the anti-hero in this match-up. Or not? Yes, Edie is sadly victimized, but her corpulent prison and resultant dysfunction are of her own making, and could have been fixed with some good therapy or 12-Step, Weight Watcher's, or gastric bypass, which (sigh) was not even mentioned.

Yes, I can suspend disbelief, even tolerate the retrograde technology which precluded giving a nod to bariatric surgery. It did bother me, though, but I know that with successful gastric bypass there would not even be a story. Or at least not such a polarized one anyway. Edie could have had the surgery but failed in adjusting her eating habits to accommodate and thus her issues would have persisted and she would have continued to drive Richard terminally nuts. But the surgery would have surely fixed her diabetes.

Doesn't matter, there were some terrific story lines and some excellent dialogue, so why complain, and why should it even matter that the book is just not at the depth of a Franzen ("The Corrections") or a Tropper ("One Last Thing Before I Go")? I use audiobooks to a large extent for multitasking, and some of the gentler ones as sleep aids and for me this book sufficed nicely.
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- Pamela Harvey "glam"

Great story - Narration leaves A LOT to be desired

Any additional comments?

Wonderful story but it was embarrassing to hear Molly Ringwald mispronounce the Jewish words (e.g. "meshugah, b'nai mitzvah, dayenu...") It took away from the book's authenticity. I am surprised the author, director and producer didn't consider those as necessary edits. Her tone was also very flat and I felt that it did a disservice to what was a great story.

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- Lisa

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-23-2012
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio