Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Testing of Luther Albright” as Want to Read:
The Testing of Luther Albright
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Testing of Luther Albright

3.08  ·  Rating details ·  145 ratings  ·  25 reviews
Luther Albright is a devoted father and a designer of dams, a self-controlled man who believes he can engineer happiness for his family by sheltering them from his own emotions.

But when an earthquake shakes his Sacramento home, the world Luther has constructed with such care begins to tilt: his son's behavior becomes increasingly bizarre and threatening, his loving wife se
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 25th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published July 1st 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Testing of Luther Albright, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Testing of Luther Albright

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  145 ratings  ·  25 reviews

Sort order
May 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
I think it's pity when good books frequently get low star ratings because some readers want a conventional 'plot' with lots happening.

The 'story' can be the unfolding of consequences of characters' actions and/or events that have happened to them. A good writer will detail emotions, regrets and lessons learned, often too late.

In the case of Luther Albright over- thinking, second guessing and repression add up to the loss of both family respect and his own self worth. As the book progressed, I
T.E. Antonino
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Like an artist mixing colors on her palette MacKenzie brings an array of color to the life of Luther Albright. I really felt I was peeking in on someone else’s daily existence. I thoroughly enjoyed how the book developed from beginning to end. It’s nice to see a book written from the view point of someone living life like the rest of us. Happy reading!
Sue Kozlowski
Aug 13, 2013 rated it did not like it
Not a good book. Luther is married with a teenage son, Eliot. Luther doesn't open up to him. They do plumbing together. Wife gets a job. I finished it to find out what happens but nothing does!
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Almost nothing "happens" in this book, but it is a deeply moving, intimate picture of the daily interactions and struggles between father and son.
Nov 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
The opening phrase “The year I lost my wife and son…” and the description of an earthquake that follows create a feeling of impending doom straight away, and the atmosphere remains tense throughout the book. The narrator is an engineer who believes that everything in his life needs to be precise, careful and controlled, as a reaction to his own childhood experiences with an unpredictable father prone to manipulative behaviour and emotional outbursts. Luther Albright is determined not to repeat h ...more
It is amazing, from my point of view, how a woman author writes in a first person male protagonist.
The story reverberates of how many trials a father can be.

I choose this book in the store over the book The Beautiful Boy: the Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction by David Sheff, because it almost the same in topic--parental love and other things we perceived wrong about their love but it is not good to compare books.

It will remind you of your/ the role as a father or parent, spouse and
Elly Sands
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
I would not have known about this author if her husband Jeff Bezo hadn't had his few hours of being the richest man in the world a few weeks ago. I wanted to know more details and found that his wife is an author so out of curiosity I downloaded her book. I'm glad I did. It is an unsual book and it took awhile to get into the style of writing. It reads like a stream of consciousness, a narration of the mind. A father who seems to be constantly second guessing his wife and son. His ongoing analys ...more
Jul 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me so much of Stoner by John Edward Williams. It's also a very quiet book. It's about a man, a proud but quiet man who builds dams in CA. He lives with his family in a house that he built with much love and care, but now it is aging and in need of many repairs. A major dam that he has built is being investigated for design flaws. Confronted with pressure at work and his own difficulty sharing articulating his feelings, his wife becomes distant and his adolescent son starts act ...more
Feb 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: other
This book is a sad case of literature. The author writes beautifully, but somehow missed that she needs a plot in order to make a good story. She alludes to a plot and you keep thinking that something is going to happen at the end, but you are left sorely disappointed.
Feb 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
Picked it up beacuse it was set in my old hometown. Thought it was going to be a little more suspenceful but was disappointing.
Nov 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of my Favorites
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was a pick for my book club, and it definitely was not for me. I'm not a big fan of character driven stories, which is what this is, and this book had my least favorite aspects as those kinds of books. It was extremely slow paced, the story wasn't interesting, and Luther's character stayed pretty much static. So much of this book is people not communicating. Luther because of his extreme anxiety. The son and the wife walked on eggshells around him, and this book suffered from a lack of clim ...more
Brian Kloosterman
Jan 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's a little odd how reflective and emotionally aware the first person protagonist is but only in retrospective... He lives a lifetime constantly unable to correct for problems he is aware of and accepts. It's a very enjoyable and underrated book, but that one major flaw is distracting.
Kelly Parker
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
I vacillated between 2 and 3 stars for this book. Ultimately, there was waaay more detail about plumbing, pipes and house construction than I needed or wanted. And man, what a passive, pathetic main character.
Dr. Z
Jan 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: quit-reading
I gave this a try for about 5 minutes because the author has been in the news. The writing didn’t work for me. Gave up.
Mar 25, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-club
This book was different from what I thought it would be. It is a very relatable story of an American family and the struggles between father and teenage son.
Elise Hamilton
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it
My rating for this book was a tough choice. MacKenzie Bezos is a very talented writer, and the story was well crafted and told. But my 3-star rating is a reflection of my not liking the narrator, nor the effect of his actions, and what Bezos puts us through to understand the character.

I encountered Mackenzie Bezos for the first time when she was interviewed in mid-June by Charlie Rose. I was fascinated listening to her describe her process, and intrigued by her as a writer because she was so pa
Jan 24, 2009 rated it liked it
I read this book sometime last year. Not sure why exactly, but this book sticks in my mind as one of the more interesting books I've read. I think most of the reviews on Amazon are pretty accurate, from what I saw, so I won't repeat them here.
The opening line of the book starts, "The year I lost my wife and son, my son performed nine separate test of my character." Now, when I read that line, I interpreted the word "lost" a certain way. That caused me to expect certain things to happen in sto
May 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I think the best way to describe this novel is as a series of tests. Stability tests are run on dams after earthquakes. Just so are parents tested as children become adolescents and young adults. Just so are couples tested as they change over time. Tremors and after shocks test the stability of relationships. In this story, Luther Albright tries to fit his emotional world into his engineer's orderly framework. Frankly, the reader's patience is tested a bit too by Luther's/the author's pedantic p ...more
Jun 03, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in family dynamics
Shelves: novel
This is a very sensitively written book. The protagonist is a man who suffers from tremendous insecurity as a result of a difficult relationship with his own father. The man is now married and a father of a teenage son. There are many tests in the relationship.

The deep introspection and reflection of the main character is quite interesting, though it seems a little forced.

Worth a read for those who find family dynamics interesting.
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
Uncorrected proof from the library.
Nothing really happens on this book. The first sentence is, "The summer I lost my wife and son, he challenged me nine times. "
I spent the whole book worrying about how and when they'd die.
Sep 04, 2007 rated it liked it
I read this book quite quickly, even though I didn't absolutely love it. Very descriptive writing, which sometimes I'm not patient enough to get through! Well written although sometimes it felt like everyone was thinking to hard - but maybe that was the point.
May 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very strange, but impressive in a really low key way. What I liked about it was how it described the emotional backlash that can occur over successive generations.
Mar 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Good story and characters. The prose style at times was unnecessarily complex.
Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
I found this to be quite the interesting read. I found myself surprised at the protaganist's dilemnas, thinking he was reading way too much into the ramifications of his choices.
rated it it was amazing
Jun 04, 2011
Kris Parker
rated it liked it
Aug 26, 2014
rated it really liked it
Jul 14, 2013
rated it liked it
Nov 22, 2010
rated it really liked it
Nov 02, 2013
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Spell of New Mexico
  • Metes and Bounds
  • Twins: Dead Ringers
  • Life's Little Annoyances: True Tales of People Who Just Can't Take It Anymore
  • Ghosting: A Double Life
  • Quicksands: A Memoir
  • Running on Empty: How the Democratic and Republican Parties Are Bankrupting Our Future and What Americans Can Do about It
  • Capote in Kansas: A Ghost Story
  • George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker
  • American History: A Survey [with PowerWeb & Primary Source Investigator]
  • The Flower Boy
  • Coast of Dreams: California on the Edge, 1990-2003
  • New and Old Wars: Organized Violence in a Global Era
  • The Christmas Quilt
  • Everything Is Broken
  • Dancing in the Dark
  • Crisis, Pursued by Disaster, Followed Closely by Catastrophe: A Memoir of Life on the Run
  • A Changed Man