The Middlesteins

The Middlesteins

by Jami Attenberg

Paperback

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455507207
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 06/04/2013
Pages: 287
Sales rank: 407,822
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

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, Time Out New York, BookForum, Nerve, and many other publications. She lives in New York and is originally from Chicago.

What People are Saying About This

J. Courtney Sullivan

Jami Attenberg has a gift for making you sympathize with each and every one of her characters. The result is a rich family portrait that's sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, and gripping all the way through. The Middlesteins are every bit as complex and contradictory as your family, or mine. I'm still thinking about them long after I turned the final page. (J. Courtney Sullivan, author of Commencement and Maine)

Lauren Groff

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)

Stefan Merrill Block

The Middlesteins, the novel, is great literature: in lucid and lustrous prose, Jami Attenberg tells a flawlessly paced, profound story that is equally intimate and universal. And the Middlesteins, the family, are great company: warm, tragic, funny and so deeply, complexly, entirely human that I could almost swear I grew up down the street from them. I read Attenberg's book as voraciously as Edie Middlestein downs her surreptitious feasts, and now I'm insatiable for more from this brilliant author. (Stefan Merrill Block, author of The Storm at the Door and The Story of Forgetting)

Aryn Kyle

Jami Attenberg writes with startling honesty and haunting compassion about characters caught between desire and obligation. Blunt and beautifully written, The Middlesteins peels back the layers of one family's struggle to hold together even as its members fall apart, examining the commitments and betrayals, the guilt and grievances, the wounds and recoveries. Told with great hope and humor, this is a novel about fear and forgiveness, blame and acceptance, the roles we yearn to escape, and the bonds that prove unbreakable. It's a wonderful book. (Aryn Kyle, author of The God of Animals)

Jonathan Franzen

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)

Kate Christensen

The Middlesteins is a truly original American novel, at once topical and universally timeless. Jami Attenberg has created a Midwestern Jewish family who are quintessentially familiar but fiercely, mordantly idiosyncratic. This novel will make you laugh, cry, cringe in recognition, and crave lamb-cumin noodles. This is a stunningly wonderful book. (Kate Christensen, author of The Astral and The Great Man)

Jenna Blum

I couldn't help absolutely devouring The Middlesteins. This smorgasbord of a book about food, family, love, sex, and loss is like the Jewish The Corrections, yet menschier and with a heart—and it's hilarious! (Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers)

Customer Reviews

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The Middlesteins 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An excellent read because of the way the author developed the characters and told their stories in and out of the present tense. Each one was a real person, with good, bad, weak, and strong traits that wove a family tale. The eating disorder of Edie, the central character, was facintating to read about, and i loved the Chinese chef.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was kind of confusing! The book is onlyv 201 pages not worth the 12.99 you pay! I wish I had known this before I purchased it!
MGraves More than 1 year ago
It really didn't do it for me. The characters were not very well developed even though they were interesting and in the hands of someone else, they could have become compelling. It really annoyed me that the author would mention things that were going to happen later in the book (the death of a major character) but instead of a subtle foreshadowing, it pretty much just made the event fall flat when it did happen. Not a fan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With a unique storyline. Also loved reading about a non-Newyork middle aged Jewish community. Addresses the toll morbid obesity can take on a marriage and whether the pursuit of happiness is worth the cost.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
modestly entertaining. Classic ethnic angst and neuroses
gaylelin More than 1 year ago
I'm a sucker for books about families with all their layers of love, regret, loss, angst. I always hope for forgiveness and redemption to be part of the equation. I wasn't disappointed when I chose THE MIDDLESTEINS by Jami Attenberg. Richard Middlestein has fallen out of love with his wife, Edie. Largely, he thinks, because of her steady weight gain and her obsession with food. So, he leaves her. Their two children and two grandchildren seem to understand the split from Edie's viewpoint. His daughter-in-law, Rachelle, forbids Richard from seeing his grandchildren. As the grandchildren prepare for their b'nai mitzvah, Richard negotiates with his son to allow him back into the lives of the children. Rachelle's preparation for the extravagant party after the ritual includes some worries about having Richard and Edie in the same place, at the same time. Was the marriage over long before Richard left Edie? Do the two of them get back together or go on with new people in their lives? Does the family ever completely embrace Richard again? All these questions are waiting for your discovery. The Jewish life is so rich in its customs, traditions, and celebrations that it always makes a good story. I loved this book and gave it four stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Main character is addicted to food. She is nasty and although she was a lawyer - she is dumb. She makes selfish and dumb decisions about food, family, politics, and faith. Daughter is an alcoholic. Son addicted to pot. Husband is work addicted. Grandchildren addicted to texting. Although the novel focuses on the family's faith, they do not seem to make good moral decisions. The book is well written and has an excellent flow. Sometimes, I think it is good to read a book like this to help you remember the positive things in your own life. I have already bought her next book. This book is different and unique as well as well written and for that reason, it deserves an A+++
Ilovemister More than 1 year ago
Really disappointing. I was really excited to start reading it but was confused thru much of it. Another one like Gone Girl.    Lots of hype and hyped up publicity for a rotten book. I don't get it. DISAPPOINTING! Don't waste your time
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This was a wonderful read! I enjoyed every minute of it!
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I cannot imagine why their was so much buzz about this book. I didn't find it funny AT ALL. It was horrible, and horribly depressing. An obese woman eating herself to death? Unhappy, hateful people who constantly complain about everything? Not funny. Read Carl Hiassen if you want funny. This was not, and by the ratings, I see I'm not alone in my opinions.
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Boring
noellerenee More than 1 year ago
I found this book interesting, especially in developing the characters and actions of the main characters, EXCEPT for the main character, Edie. There are alot of observations from others expressed, but very little on what motivates Edie to behave how she does, especially with her food addiction and lack of concern with her medical problems. Her relationship with her husband left many unanswered questions for me as well.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really Jewish, but surprisingly really dull.