Pete and Elaine Dizinoff had the perfect life: a big house in an upscale New Jersey suburb, money, and a group of long-time similar-minded friends. Pete was a successful and respected internist, he and Elaine, after years of heart-breaking miscarriages, were blessed with a beautiful, healthy son. They felt their lives were complete.
The Dizinoffs' best friends from college, the Sterns, lived nearby, and the couples vacationed together and raised their children together. The two families gathered for celebrations and to help each other through hardships. Nothing, it seemed, could tear them apart.
The semester Alec Dizinoff dropped out of Hampshire College to live above his parents' garage, that perfect life and perfect friendship began to crumble. When Pete thought his only child needed his protection, he could concentrate on nothing else. In his desperation, he made two life-altering decisions: one perhaps an honest mistake, but what about the other?
The overriding theme in A Friend of the Family is trust within relationships. The story of the Dizinoffs and Sterns centers on how much parents can and should trust their children to find their own lives, to choose their own friends and lovers, to tell the truth, and to do what's right. If one parent puts too much faith in a child who could use more guidance, is he really any different from the parent who meddles in the life of a kid who will probably be just fine?
On other levels, Lauren Grodstein examines the dynamics of lifelong friendship and of trust within a marriage. Such relationships are built on shared thoughts, revealed insecurities, and whispered secrets. When you trust others with such information, you give them great power over you. Pete Dizinoff learns just how far the bonds of trust between friends, spouses, children, and patients can be stretched before they begin to snap.
A Friend of the Family is not a happy novel with easy answers and a clean ending. The characters are multidimensional, and the reader's sympathies change as the book progresses. Grodstein pushes you to question the limits of the trust and faith you have put in your family, your friends, and even your doctors. It's a novel that will make you think.
A Friend of the Family at Amazon
These 3 links lead to affiliate programs.
Published by Algonquin, November 2009
Source: Review copy (see review policy)