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 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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"Starred Review. Attenberg makes her characters' thoughts - Richard and Benny in particular - seem utterly real, and her wry, observational humor often hits sideways rather than head-on." - Publishers Weekly
"Starred Review. Deeply satisfying ... A sharp-tongued, sweet-natured masterpiece of Jewish family life." - Kirkus Reviews
"Attenberg finds ample comic moments in this wry tale about an unraveling marriage. She has a great ear for dialog, and the novel is perfectly paced ... [She] seamlessly weaves comedy and tragedy in this warm and engaging family saga of love and loss." - Library Journal
"The Middlesteins had me from its very first pages, but it wasn't until its final pages that I fully appreciated the range of Attenberg's sympathy and the artistry of her storytelling." - Jonathan Franzen, author of Freedom
"Starred Review. [Attenberg's] characters' thoughts - Richard and Benny in particular - seem utterly real, and her wry, observational humor often hits sideways rather than head-on ... [A] wonderfully messy and layered family portrait." - Publishers Weekly
"Jami Attenberg has written a brilliant novel in The Middlesteins, as blazing, ferocious, and great-hearted as anything I've read. For anyone who has ever known heartbreak, the terrible love of a family, or a passion so deep you think it'll kill you, The Middlesteins will blow you away." - Lauren Groff, New York Times bestselling author of The Monsters of Templeton
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Jami Attenberg is the author of a story collection, Instant Love, and two novels, The Kept Man and The Melting Season. She has contributed essays and criticism to The New York Times, Print, Nylon, Slate, Time Out New York, BookForum, Nerve, and many other publications. A blogger since 1998, she received the Village Voice's Blog Post of the Year award for 2010. She lives in New York and is originally from Chicago.
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