Lauren's Reviews > A Friend of the Family

A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein
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's review
Oct 19, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: 2010-52-books
Read from October 24 to 27, 2010

The copy I borrowed from the library had a rather unfortunate cover, channelling too much of a Maeve Binchy style, that meant I was kind of awkward about reading it in public places. It affected my feeling of the type of book it was, and I felt a little like I was slumming it.

If I had read it with one of the covers I had seen online, I would have felt like I was reading a more worthy book. OK yes I sound like an awful cover snob, but it is hard not to judge a book by its cover and have that influence my reading of it.

There were times when I was reading it and I got over myself and forgot what the cover looked like, and then I actually got into this story. There is a line – something like ‘anyone who has ever had intentions knows they are more important than actions’ – at the end of one of the chapters that I thought perfectly encapsulates a feeling I have tried to relate to others many times, but I never got it quite right (now it seems obvious, why didn’t I just say it like that?)

It was hard to decide whether I liked the main character or not. He was a little too self involved and controlling and black-and-white for me, but he was also clever and funny, though maybe unintentionally. He thinks he has the right to control his son’s life because he provides for him and loves him (more than anyone else ever could, apparently) and wants what is best for him. But it is clear that he has done something wrong, made some huge mistakes, and as the novel begins he is living in the studio above the garage, his marriage in trouble, his relationship with his son non-existent and his previously successful medical practice now falling apart. I am not usually drawn into mysteries, but despite myself, the further I got into this, the more I really wanted to know what he had done to ruin his life. And in the end when you find out, it was actually more realistic than I expected, it wasn’t ridiculous or overdone, but it wasn’t understated or ineffective either, it was believable.

And there was a tragic beauty to the way it ends with his wife.

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Comments (showing 1-2)

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Nicole You mean the cover with the face? If that's the one, I found it disheartening that she describes Laura as having green eyes but the girl in the book cover has blue eyes.

Lauren It was actually worse than that - it had a brightly dressed girl walking away down a dull, faded suburban street

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