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A Friend of the Family [Kindle Edition]

Lauren Grodstein
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Pete Dizinoff, a skilled and successful New Jersey internist, has a loving and devoted wife, a network of close friends, an impressive house, and, most of all, a son, Alec, now nineteen, on whom he has pinned all his hopes. But Pete hadn’t expected his best friend’s troubled daughter to set her sights on his boy. When Alec falls under her spell, Pete sets out to derail the romance, never foreseeing the devastating consequences.

In a riveting story of suburban tragedy, Lauren Grodstein charts a father’s fall from grace as he struggles to save his family, his reputation, and himself.

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2009: In A Friend of the Family, Lauren Grodstein, author of the breakout debut novel, Reproduction Is the Flaw of Love, goes to even greater literary heights with a contemporary suburban drama brewing with an undercurrent of violence that, with each turn of the page, takes on the weight of an American tragedy. As the book opens, Peter Dizinoff, a successful New Jersey doctor, is struggling to adjust to the aftermath of his actions as the foundation of his personal and professional life crack beneath his feet. At the center of his troubles is his beloved son Alec, who deflates his father's high expectations when he drops out of college after just three semesters and moves into the apartment above their garage. And when his son begins seeing Laura, the troubled daughter of Peter's best friend who is ten years older than Alec and lives in the tainted shadow of being acquitted for an unspeakable crime when she was 17, Alec's ambivalence to his father's hopes in living a good life turn into a simmering rage. Dizinoff, a man with a clear definition of right and wrong, flips back and forth in time as he narrates the history of events that build their way to a layered, emotionally wrenching climax. --Brad Thomas Parsons

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. There are grave consequences when Pete Dizinoff, a successful doctor, tries to keep his son from being seduced by Laura, a possible murderess and the daughter of Pete's best friend. Grodstein's superb second novel is a deft portrayal of suburban life, and Adamson more than does justice to the fine material in his tour-de-force performance. With his ability to shift from pathos to restraint, he creates realistically layered characters that grip readers from the start and linger long after the finish. An Algonquin hardcover (Reviews, Jul. 6). (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • File Size: 1506 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; Reprint edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,720 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
103 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Engrossing Book Grabs You and Doesn't Let Go November 23, 2009
By all accounts, Doctor Peter Dizinoff is living the American dream: he has risen from humble beginnings in Yonkers, New York, where his dad sold insurance and shared with Pete and his younger brother a dream of a bigger home and a better life. Through hard work and determination, Pete achieves this dream for himself as he earns a college scholarship and escapes the rough neighborhood.

While attending the University of Pittsburgh, Pete meets his eventual wife, Elaine. After college, the couple lives in a stately home in Round Hill, New Jersey, where Pete builds a thriving medical practice. Elaine, who has received a PhD in English Literature, is totally devoted to Pete. Following graduation, they manage to remain close with Joe and Iris Stern, good friends from their college days. Pete and Elaine have celebrated the births of all the Sterns' children --- from their first-born, Laura, to their other three kids --- all the while wondering why they themselves can't conceive even one child.

After years of battling infertility, Pete and Elaine are at last blessed with a son, Alec. Pete is unashamedly devoted to Alec and has pinned his hopes and dreams on his son's future. Now 20 years old, Alec has a mind of his own and a passion in art. He drops out of school to study art and lives in a studio apartment above his parents' garage...until someone from the past turns their lives upside down.

When she was a teenager, Laura Stern was accused of committing a crime so unbelievably heinous that the State of New Jersey was determined to lock her up for years. At the time, her parents believed she was mentally deficient and not responsible for her act.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars disappointing March 25, 2010
I read a lot of press about this book but it was a major disappointment to me. I failed to see the "great writing" about which I had read.

The anticipation was not worth the result and the writing was overly dramatic. The plot development was SO SLOW. I hated the foreshadowing and the jumping back and forth in time. Sometimes I would get a couple of sentences into a paragraph and then realize she had shifted time YET AGAIN. Annoying.

There was way too much detail, but about what?.....something the reader did not really know about, that was not revealed until the last few pages (the reason for Pete's banishment to the garage). So how are we supposed to care? By then I had lost interest. The author did not know when to stop building suspense and tell the darn story! I realized that Pete was in agonizing mental pain, loved his wife and son....but Grodstein kept beating the reader over the head with these facts. Too much manipulation by the author.

The book was full of characters I did not care about....and way too much writing about things that had nothing to do with the story and detracted from it.

The ending (from the time Pete went into NY to confront Laura to the end of the book) seemed tacked on. Her revelations made absolutely no sense and the story of Roseanne was not at all integrated into the novel --- the accusations seemed absurd given Pete's marginal interaction with her as a patient. The fallout from all of Pete's woes seemed false and forced. Not well done at all.

I usually do not stick with books to which I give two stars, but I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My opinion: much ado about not much.
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78 of 92 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good and entertaining. October 28, 2009
I picked this up in my local B&N on the new fiction shelf, intrigued by the inside flaps. The author wrote the novel very well, and it is pretty much a string of flashbacks/memories that lead up to the protagonists current position in life. Dr. Pete Dizinoff is currently awaiting the decisions on Tuesday that will ultimately affect the rest of his life. His relationship with his beloved wife is rocky, his ties with his long-time best-friends have been severed, his son despises him, and he is threatened with a medical malpractice lawsuit. The reader is enlightened on the events that lead up to this hurricane. And in the aftermath of the hurricane, all isn't lost but his over protection and control of his son eventually drives the two apart completely. Really a wonderful novel and I couldn't put it down. My only gripe is that it took so long to reach the meaty portion but hey, whatever.
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70 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down November 6, 2009
A compelling story about the unintended consequences of a parent trying to do what he thinks is best for his only son. All parents who pour all their hopes and dreams into their children will see pieces of themselves in Dr. Pete. How far will we go to protect our children. A very readable book. It will give you many things to consider, long after you have closed the cover.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The ending odd . . . March 12, 2010
By Tweeds

When I finished this book I thought .. .. HUH? Laura tells people Dr. Pete 'raped' her and given her history of mental problems, the wife (especially the wife)and son actually believe her? It just didn't make any sense! This man who stood beside her all of these years - through infertility and breast cancer - suddenly decides to rape his son's girlfriend. AND the best friend believing his daughter - and he knows the truth of her sexual past . . .What utter nonsense . . and WHAT is the problem with the son? An obnoxious character to say the least and the wife comes off as spoiled rotten. I have to say - the moment Dr. Pete hauled off and smacked Laura was most satisfying - and I'm not even a violent person:)
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars I'm dizzy.
There was so much jumping around in the timeline without many markers and it made me feel quite discombobulated. Maybe that was her point and her intent. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Khava N. Dobrenski
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting that the book was written from the point of view of a...
I was caught up in the mystery of why the husband/father of a fairly well-off family was living in a studio above the garage of the lovely Victorian home they owned for all those... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Linda Polman
4.0 out of 5 stars Very well written
I couldn't put it down. Characters were well defined and family dynamics were realistic and heart breaking. I would recommend to a friend.
Published 2 months ago by Honest Opinion
5.0 out of 5 stars an exciting and thoughtful book that i could not put down
the characters were so believable and what happened to them is also believable - yet the story has so many good twsts - really held my interest
Published 3 months ago by Judith M. Volin
4.0 out of 5 stars One To Ponder On
A sad tale about what goes wrong when a parent can't let go of a child and let them grow up. This was a good book, one that makes you think and want to discuss afterwards.
Published 5 months ago by Michelegg
3.0 out of 5 stars It fell flat..
I didn't like the characters and the story just didn't grab me. I'll give away my copy. Over-hyped. Who can really care about these people?
Published 5 months ago by Melinda
5.0 out of 5 stars I adored it
This may be my favorite book of the year. Sometimes I laughed out loud, other times I was horrified. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Elaine H Rosenthal
3.0 out of 5 stars It was okay
First off, I am happy that this book was free, it gets a better rating just for that. It didn't wow or thrill me, I really was expecting more and at some points it was just really... Read more
Published 5 months ago by M. Williams
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read with a twist
I liked the way this book was written from the male perspective. It was well written and incredibly detailed so that you knew exactly who Pete was and what made him tick. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Roni
5.0 out of 5 stars An poignant, but intriguing read
I very much enjoyed reading this book. I could related to each on of the characters and could almost feel their emotions, aspirations and frustrations. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Pavel Grinfeld
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More About the Author

Lauren Grodstein is the author of the novel "The Explanation for Everything." Her previous novels include the New York Times bestselling "A Friend of the Family," along with "Reproduction is the Flaw of Love," and the short story collection "The Best of Animals." She teaches creative writing at the Camden campus of Rutgers University, where she helps administer the university MFA program, and lives in New Jersey, near Rutgers, with her husband and her young son. You can find out all about her - favorite books, pet projects, gardening disasters, child-raising joys - at

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