Nov 20, 2012

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

The Middlesteins
The MiddlesteinsAuthor:  Jami Attenberg
Publisher:  Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date:  October 23rd 2012
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

From Goodreads:

For more than thirty 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 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?


The Middlesteins is a book that I wanted to read as soon as I heard about it.  I, like a lot people also struggle with food, more accurately my LOVE of food, but I again like most people try to make healthy choices.  Sometimes we do, and sometimes we don't, it is the nature of the beast.   

What I find fascinating with The Middlesteins is how Edie has absolutely no care and restraint when it comes to food, yet she is a women keen to calling people out on their stupidity.  She is an angry women, as well as a selfish one.  I didn't really like her, yet I felt sorry for her.  Author, Jami Attenberg conjured up a dynamic character that angers you yet, you can empathize with.  Her husband, Richard, I pitied.  He's a more likable character even though he is the one who leaves Edie.  I liked that Richard narrated some of the chapters.  It is insightful to see his side of the story.

The story is told through many perspectives.  Edie, Richard, Benny, their son, Robin, the daughter, and even Benny's wife.  Each had their own voice, and you can tell who is putting their input into what is happening.  I enjoyed Ms. Attenberg's writing, it flowed nicely and is simply written.  The Middlesteins is a character driven novel, not much of a plot there, but the characters are very interesting.

I really enjoyed The Middlesteins, it' sad, real and entertaining.  


  1. Hmm, I'm sort of disappointed to hear the main character is unlikeable.

  2. I wasn't expecting to not like her, but luckily it didn't deter me from liking this novel.

  3. I was wondering about this one when I saw it! I think I'd like it too.. I definitely struggle with food. Geez, catchiing up on your reviews now, and it's crazy how similar our tastes in book are!


Thanks for commenting!