Synopses & Reviews
Pete Dizinoff has spent years working toward a life that would be, by all measures, deemed successful. A skilled internist, he's built a thriving practice in suburban New Jersey. He has a devoted wife, a network of close friends, and an impressive house, and most important, he has a son, Alec, on whom he's pinned all his hopes. Pete has afforded Alec every opportunity, bailed him out of close calls with the law, and even ensured his acceptance into a good college.
But Pete never counted on the wild card: Laura, his best friend's daughter — ten years older than Alec, irresistibly beautiful, with a past so shocking that it's never spoken of. When Laura sets her sights on Alec, Pete sees his plans for his son not just unraveling but being destroyed completely. Believing he has only the best of intentions, he sets out to derail this romance and rescue his son. He could never have foreseen how his whole world would shatter in the process.
Lauren Grodstein delivers a riveting story in the tradition of The Ice Storm, American Beauty, and Little Children, charting a father's fall from grace as he struggles to save his family, his reputation, and himself.
"In her wonderful second novel, Grodstein (Reproduction Is the Flaw of Love) traces a suburban crisis and gives especially perceptive attention to the father-son bond. Pete Dizinoff has it pretty good an internist with a successful practice, loving wife, nice house in a safe New Jersey suburb and his best friend living close by but there's some nasty muck beneath the surface. Some years back, Laura, the daughter of Pete's best friend, Joe, was suspected of murdering her baby upon birth. Now in her early 30s, Laura's returned to town after several years of leisurely work and travel and is seducing Pete's college dropout son, Alec, who is also back in town, pursuing the life of a painter in his parents' garage. Laura does not fit into Pete's idea of what's best for his son, but when Pete intervenes, things spin wildly out of control. Add to this a malpractice case, and Pete senses his life is falling apart. An astute dissector of male aspiration, Grodstein brings great insight into a father's protective urge for his son in this gripping portrait of an American family in crisis." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"What a wonderful and compelling read. This book is full of insights and honesty, and you will have a hard time putting it down. These people will stay in your head and keep their hands on your heart. Grodstein's skills at storytelling are unwavering."
--Elizabeth Strout, Pulitzer Prize winner for Olive Kitteridge
"A gripping account of paternal love gone wildly astray."
--Helen Schulman, author of A Day at the Beach
"The moving, complex, beautifully written story of a good man who's slowly losing his grip on his life and his family, A Friend of the Family unfolds with unerring precision." --Kate Christensen, author of Trouble Kate Christensen
"Unfolds with suspense worthy of Hitchcock . . . [Grodstein] is a terrific storyteller." --The New York Times Book Review
The Washington Post Book World
"The novel is spot-on in its depiction of affection and jealousy among longtime friends; boozy suburban bashes; unrequited love; and adjusting to middle age . . . A Friend of the Family beautifully captures the ever-striving angst of parents who will take any step to ensure their children's lives are easier or better. Parents sweating through a teen's college applications would do well to spend some time with Dr. Pete." --USA Today
"Grodstein's harsh, honest prose makes this haunting tale worthwhile." --People
The New York Times Book Review
"Stunning . . . She has written a novel that will leave her readers sitting up, sifting the evidence in the dead of night." --The Boston Globe The Boston Globe
"Absorbing . . . an incisive diagnosis of aspirational America . . . What Grodstein captures so strikingly is the anxiety of a father's love, that aching affection . . . Grodstein never pushes these characters into caricatures. She has a sharp ear for the discordant tones of conversations between parents and their almost adult children . . . Grodstein is such a perceptive and knowing critic of suburbia that I kept expecting to see her driving slowly up and down my street peering in the windows . . . The last 50 pages of the novel swell to such a gripping climax . . . Horrifyingly plausible and deeply poignant, A Friend of the Family will leave you shaken and chastened--and grateful for the warning." --Washington Post Washington Post
"Gripping . . . [Grodstein] has succeeded in shattering the image of surburban happiness." --Chicago Tribune
"Involving at every level: character, plot, language. one of the more complicated portraits of a father's love for his son we've ever read . . . highly recommended."--McSweeney's People
"Horrifyingly plausible and deeply poignant, A Friend of the Family
will leave you shaken and chastened--and grateful for the warning." --The Washington Post Book World
Grodstein delivers a riveting story in the tradition of The Ice Storm, American Beauty, and Little Children, charting a father's fall from grace as he struggles to save his family, his reputation, and himself.
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.
About the Author
LAUREN GRODSTEIN is the author of the collection The Best of Animals
and a novel, Reproduction is the Flaw of Love
, which was both a Breakout Book selection from Amazon.com and a Borders Original Voices pick. Her work has been translated into German, Italian, and French. She teaches creative writing at Rutgers University.