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

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.
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- Marjee

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