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The Altruists

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  165 ratings  ·  51 reviews
A vibrant and perceptive novel about a father’s plot to win back his children’s inheritance.

Arthur Alter is in trouble. A middling professor at a Midwestern college, he can’t afford his mortgage, he’s exasperated his much-younger girlfriend, and his kids won’t speak to him. And then there’s the money–the small fortune his late wife Francine kept secret, which she bequeathe
304 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Viking
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marissa seuss I have not gotten very far into this book, nor have I read any of Jonathan Franzen's works, but I do not find this to be anywhere near enjoyable. The…moreI have not gotten very far into this book, nor have I read any of Jonathan Franzen's works, but I do not find this to be anywhere near enjoyable. The characters are bland and self important. I haven't formed an attachment to any of them. (less)

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3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  165 ratings  ·  51 reviews

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Chris Mara
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Ho-Hum - I Really struggled to finish reading this disappointing book.

One of the reviews on the back cover says this is “super brilliant and super funny.” Really? Are they praising this one and the same book? 🤔 Because I’m not seeing it or feeling it.

Basically, this is a story about a self centered middle class Jewish family. They are an unlikeable, droll cast of characters; faulty in shape and form and in figuring out and achieving their life aspirations. Some kids never grow up. Some adults
Michael Ferro
My full review will be up at Fiction Writers Review later this month:

Sneak Peek: Folks, this is the real deal. Read this book.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
If you don’t care about the characters, how can you care for the book?

This is Andrew Ridker’s debut novel and it tells the now familiar story of a dysfunctional Jewish-American middle-class family. We read plenty of books, do we not, where we dislike the main character intensely yet still manage to enjoy the book itself? Admittedly, it does help if one or more of the subsidiary characters has some appeal but here in The Altruists none of the characters has any appeal whatsoever.

Arthur Alter, th
I do not envy comic novelists. Besides the challenges facing any novel writer, they have to elicit a smile, chuckle or smirk from their readers at regular intervals. Then - if and when they get it right - they face the risk of seeing their work dismissed as ‘(s)light’ fare. A case in point, in my opinion, was Andrew Sean Greer’s Less, which I greatly enjoyed and which I think really did deserve the Pulitzer, but which was slated in some quarters, including by friends and reviewers whose opinion ...more
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ridker has written one of the finest novels I have read about a family, highly dysfunctional, dealing with the death of the matriarch. Despite Francine Klein's death, she is the center of the novel and as a reader I identified very strongly with her.

Her husband Arthur is a cheat, a liar and a failure. He had never been a good father but after her death, he becomes more entrenched in his own narcissistic world. He has a girlfriend, clearly there to replace Francine since he cannot live without a
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The American Family Saga is alive and well in literature in the late '10s. And what it all boils down to is: everyone is hella selfish, the push-and-pulls of family ties are severe, your life is your family's, or, destiny is dictated in large part by.

We do hear a few "I deserve"s, modern instances of privilege, and we even meet siblings who live in NYC but are estranged. Basically, spoiled!

But what a beautiful novel! We've seen it all before (trust!), we know how it will end... But it is the be
Brett G
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Deeply hilarious and deeply moving. I couldn't put it down (finished it at about 4:30am one morning because after starting to read 6 hours earlier, I couldn't stop myself til I was done). Very likely the best novel I've read in the last few years.
Ashley Bergman Carlin
Ridker is a good writer and this is a good, but not great, debut. He writes from the perspectives of 4 characters and excels at the son and flounders with the daughter (who has a scene that displays such a lack of self-awareness that she comes across as a 7 year old and it's not very believable).

It's your typical dysfunctional family novel and there's nothing too exciting here, though a subplot that takes place in Zimbabwe is pretty stellar. Some great prose, though, and I'll be curious to see w
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: american, family
I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book via First To Read for my honest review on this book.

This story is about the Alter family - Arthur, Francine, Maggie, and Ethan. They are torn apart after Francine's death and Arthur's affair. Arthur tries to pull his family back together for his own selfish reasons. Though during this weekend with his children, they all come to learn things about themselves as they are pushed to their emotional limits.

I didn't really like the book, to be honest. I
James Beggarly
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really nice debut novel about a father, brother and daughter who slowly come undone in their lives with the death of the mother. Smart and sharp and told with a wealth of humor throughout.
De'Shawn Winslow
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful novel. It tackles topics such as parenthood, loss, socio-economic class, academia, sexual identity, sibling rivalry and love. I enjoyed all four of the main characters. What a captivating book! I highly recommend reading this when it's out this spring!
Jill Meyer
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'd never seen the noun "altruist" before reading the new novel, "The Altruists" by Andrew Ridker. According to the on-line dictionary, the word means "an unselfish person whose actions show concern for the welfare of others". That meaning seems to be the one Ridker is going for in telling the story of the Alter family of St Louis. Francine and Arthur are the parents, Ethan and Maggie are the grown children, and by the time the story opens, Francine has died of breast cancer and the other three ...more
Paris (parisperusing)
"Francine excused herself. She walked briskly to the women's room and leaned over the sink. Her shoulders heaved. She whimpered. She knew now what Arthur meant about getting the day over with. The wedding was not about the two of them. It was about her mother, and her mother's people. If I have children, she thought, already four weeks pregnant with Ethan (though no one, not even Francine, knew it), if I have children, I will not dominate their lives. I will give them the opportunity to make the ...more
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book on dysfunctional families? Sign me up. It’s no secret that I love reading these so The Altruists was right up my street and I want to say a huge thanks to the publisher for sending this my way.

Arthur Alter is skint and estranged from his two children - his bisexual son Ethan who lives a rather reclusive life in Brooklyn living off his mother’s money and Maggie, who despite having money, wants to dedicate her life to helping others and lives a frugal life. The family were rocked with trag
Cian O hAnnrachainn
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The literary world is filled with them, the Jewish girls who live in New York and hate their mothers, the gay man, the scion of academe, and all so self-absorbed as to make them laughable. They are here, in THE ALTRUISTS, but author Andrew Ridker does not present them as serious folk worthy of sympathy.

The family at the center of the novel is a dysfunctional crew, with no redeeming characteristics. We don’t have to cheer for them, feel for them, or hope for them. Just laugh at them, as the rest
Ives Phillips
Mar 04, 2019 rated it liked it
If you want to know what "not everything is black and white" look likes, then you need to note the characters in "The Altruists"; where a father is selfish and calculating with formerly semi-good intentions now entirely jaded, a son is frustratingly compliant and self-loathing to a point that you want to hug him and squeeze the angst out of him, and a daughter is peak sanctimonious and self-sacrificing which may be detrimental to the very people she wants to help.

There were many plot twists, sub
Mar 04, 2019 marked it as to-read
I won a copy of this book and I look forward to reading and reviewing when it arrives. Yahoo!
Mar 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘His kids were gone. His house was verging on foreclosure. His career was in a coffin, ignored by even the thirstiest of academic vampires.’

Meet the Alters; the father, Arthur, a failing non-tenured academic at a US college, teaching engineering rather than actually doing it; son Ethan, massively in debt and struggling to cope with life, and daughter Maggie, with no proper job, an eating disorder and a passive-aggressive personality; and Francine, their mother who died from cancer two years earl
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Altruists by Andrew Ridker is a very highly recommended debut novel about a dysfunctional family struggling after the death of their wife and mother.

Arthur Alter relocated his family, wife Francine and children Ethan and Maggie, from Boston to St. Louis after accepting the non-tenured position of engineering professor at Danforth University in St. Louis. While he was sure he would eventually become a tenured professor, it never happened. Francine is the person who keeps the family together a
Dani Winland
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
 I was happy to get back into the literary fiction genre with The Altruists. It was a bit of a hard transition to go from my norm (lately at least) of romance and thriller novels, back into the completely different world of literature. It definitely makes your brain work in a completely different way!

I think it was this difference in thinking that made me have such a difficult time getting into the story of Arthur and his family. In the beginning I was bored, and found myself having to re-read p
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
The Alters are a very special kind of family. As their telling name suggests, they want to be there for the others, alter in Latin, what leaves them in a complete mess. After mother Francine’s death, Arthur runs deeply in debt and is not realising that his career is over and that it is only a question of time until his Midwestern college sets him free. His son Ethan had started a big career after college, but found his work dull und useless and finally just quit. Daughter Maggie had higher ambit ...more
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Arthur Alter is a deeply deluded man. His children, Ethan and Maggie, are incredibly self absorbed and unsympathetic. They haven't been home since their mother's funeral, as they are appalled at Arthur's behaviour. Arthur, you see, started having an affair with a much younger woman just before his wife was diagnosed with cancer. His wife, Francine, saw through him, and left a small (and secret) fortune to her children . The sad truth is that Ethan and Maggie are not much better people than their ...more
Feb 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaway-books
The Altruists by Andrew Ridker is the well written, witty, story of a dysfunctional family struggling in the aftermath of Francine Alter's death. Her nontenured professor husband Arthur began an affair while she was dying and now at 65 he is struggling financially and trying to hang on to his young lover just so he won't be alone. About to lose his home, he concocts a plan to bring his estranged children Ethan and Maggie home so that they will use the money their mother left them to bail him out ...more
marissa seuss
Mar 08, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
i really wanted to like this book. it is the first time i have ever received an arc, so i was quite excited. however, i immensely disliked this book. the word choice is stiff and pompous, the writing style does not flow, and i found the characters to be insufferable.
firstly, this book is wordy in an unnecessary way. it makes it incredibly difficult to read. i’m a firm believer that books should be accessible to everyone, and i also believe that it’s a wonderful thing that there are different l
Young adult siblings, Ethan and Maggie are both living in New York City a few years after the death of their mother, Francine. Their father, Arthur an engineering professor lives in St. Louis. All are struggling to find a foothold in life without Francine as their anchor. Francine left a large sum of money to Ethan and Maggie, but Arthur is having financial problems and is in danger of losing the family home. After having little contact with his children he invites them home for a weekend in ord ...more
Kathleen Gray
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
A slightly different take on the dysfunctional family novel. Francine died and left money her husband Arthur didn't know about to their children, Maggie and Ethan. Arthur really really needs cash to keep his house so he gins up a rather ill conceived plot to get them home and make them love one another again - and give him a share. As you can imagine, things don't go quite as planned because Ethan and Maggie have their own issues, both with their family and with themselves. Only the privileged c ...more
Mar 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Family gatherings can be times of joy. They can also be extremely stressful. That’s one of the reasons why novelists use them as a means of exploring parent/sibling relationships. In “The Family Tabor” by Cherise Wolas (Flatiron Books), the Tabor siblings return to Palm Springs, CA, to celebrate their father, Harry Tabor, being named the Man of the Decade. Arthur Alter asks his children to visit him in St. Louis for far less celebratory reasons in Andrew Ridker’s “The Altruists” (Viking): Arthur ...more
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
** Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

This is actually a 2.5 star read. I wanted to give it a 3, but just couldn't justify it. Ridker's writing is smart and well-formulated with well fleshed out characters and good components. The feeling of the book was just too overwhelmingly gloomy for me and I couldn't attach myself to anything for a bit of a bright spot. There is a lot of family dysfunction and I guess I just need a little happiness in my
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a true 3 star book for me - I didn't love it and I didn't hate it. It was well written, but I felt like the story really didn't go anywhere. It was about the extremely dysfunctional Alter family at various points in their lives. Most of the story takes place in the present day, 2 years after the death of the mother, Francine when the father, Arthur, invites his estranged children Ethan and Maggie home for the weekend. They are highly unlikable characters, particularly Arthur. I received ...more
Jenny T.
Mar 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This novel explores the members of the Alter family (Francine & Arthur and their children, Ethan & Maggie) at different points in its timeline. The author portrays unlikable characters and an aggressively dysfunctional family system pointing out the irony of the book title. The character interactions kept me interested enough because I could never really tell what to expect.
Thanks to First to Read- Penguin Books USA for the free copy of this book.
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