The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Womp womp.  This book fell right in the middle for me, no pun intended.

The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg is a story about a woman, Edie Middlestein, who is killing herself through the process of overeating.  Her husband, Richard, decides to leave her.  The responsibilities of Edie now fall onto the kids (who are not so perfect), and all the blame onto Richard.

I liked the concept of the story, but it really was just a dysfunctional family story.  I expected too much from the obesity angle, thinking it would provide a little more depth to the novel.

I wasn’t a huge fan of this book, but Jonathan Franzen was.  He said, “The Middlesteins has 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.” 

Do you enjoy reading dysfunctional family stories?


Interested in getting your own copy? Check it out on Amazon & IndieBound. I get a small percentage if you purchase from those links, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.


18 thoughts on “The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

    • I agree. If it’s too “normal” then it’s not enough to keep my interest all the time. Sometimes normal and subtle is good, like in the book Vinegar Hill, which I loved, but it had just the right amount of dysfunction for me.


  1. Dysfunctional family books aren’t really my thing. I used to not like books that could actually happen at all, but I have developed a deep love of memoirs. Contemporary, issue books are still not something I enjoy, but maybe someday 🙂


    • Then this is one to skip for sure. I’m a fan of memoirs, too, and nonfiction. I’ve noticed that I just gobble up good nonfiction. It’s fun to be able to spout NF facts to people, like about Wal-Mart (my The Wal-Mart Effect review will come eventually. . . whenever I write it!) and stuff like that.


  2. Hmmm, this probably isn’t my jam either. Dysfunctional family stories are hard – they have to be funny or over-the-top ridiculous for me to really be into it. Too bad it didn’t work out!


    • I agree. When it’s like “average” dysfunction, it’s not as interesting to read, even though that sounds so terrible to say. Sometimes average dysfunction can stand out, but the book has to be written really well.


  3. I don’t mind stories like this but I’m not a huge fan. I’m not sure about reading this book, at first I was interested but the more reviews I’ve read the more I’ve reconsidered. You’ve kind of confirmed what I thought.


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