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Book Review: The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

The Middlesteins

People really loved this book. I randomly plucked it off a library shelf, attracted to its primary-colored cover. But by the time I got to maybe the second or third chapter, there was no doubt that it had been one of those best-selling, starred-review kinds of books (and it totally was! I just checked, like a week later!). It’s a multi-generational story about a Midwestern Jewish family that has problems that, to the reader, are sometimes intriguing, occasionally heartbreaking, and often somewhat humorous. It effortlessly slips back and forth between time and character focus, is very well thought out (a number of sly connections are made), and many of the characters have complexities that aren’t totally obvious right off the bat. But don’t expect a tidy conclusion or a predictable story arc– The Middlesteins  is perhaps more of a character study than a happy ending kind of story. I jut read some of the bad reviews, and lots of them were upset that the characters weren’t very likable. I think that’s the point– each character’s negatives are poignantly relatable.

check it out for a solid beach/plane/couch/lunch read.



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