The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg(2.5 out of 5)
This is a story of a Jewish family living in Chicago. Edie, the lead, is eating herself to death. Plagued with insecurities and a lifelong love of food, Edie is tipping the scales at over 300 pounds and suffering innumerable health issues from her overconsumptive nature. Her marriage to Richard, which has been under a paper coaster for years, suddenly flies away from her. Richard tries, but eventually he can’t hold her up and watch her kill herself, so he leaves her and begins to move on with his life. Their daughter Robin has insecurity issues and confidence issues, but she battles them and keeps the demons at bay by being silent and judgmental, to the point that even her steady boyfriend wonders if she’s ever truly happy. Eddie, the moderately happy and pleasant son, tries to keep the peace, help his mother, keep his sister sane, knock sense into his father, and keep his possessed health fanatic wife from wigging out about his mom’s health too much. Rachelle, Eddie’s wife, has to be my favorite character in the book. She’s the only one who logically tries to save Edie, at one point even shadowing her mom-in-law and reporting back where she eats out and how much, and does everything to save Edie. I think that’s where the book lost it. You feel like Edie is such a strong, sympathethic character, yet no one is giving two shits enough to knock sense into her and try to save her. Rachelle is the only one who speaks her mind and actively tries. I think that’s why my disgust with the book is unparallel. This is the fourth book in a row that I read that not only pissed me off, but broke my heart. The book broke my heart. Edie broke my heart. Her wimpy family with their half-hearted attempts at helping her- broke my heart. What broke my heart more? Edie moves on after her marriage breaks up, and meets a wonderful man who helps her believe in herself again…then boom. Something incredibly sad happens, and the book- well, it simply disintegrates. No other way to put it.
I loved the characters and how easy this book was to pick up and get into. I loved the character of Edie, and oh yes, I did identify with her on some levels. I love the character of Rachelle and wish they had dived more into her trying to save Edie’s life with the overeating. I wish many things, but I wish I had enjoyed this book more.