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A Friend of the Family

3.39  ·  Rating details ·  4,981 ratings  ·  702 reviews
Pete Dizinoff has spent years working toward a life that would be, by all measures, deemed successful. A skilled internist, he’s built a thriving practice in suburban New Jersey.He has a devoted wife, a network of close friends, an impressive house and, most important, he has a son, Alec, on whom he’s pinned all his hopes. Pete has afforded Alec every opportunity,bailed hi ...more
Hardcover, 302 pages
Published November 10th 2009 by Algonquin Books
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3.39  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,981 ratings  ·  702 reviews

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Elyse Walters
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Update: $1.99 Kindle special today!!!!
This is my favorite Lauren Grodstein book!!!
I could NOT put it down!!!! Two couples - best friends - live next to each other - they have kids - oh boy -- this story gets messy - complicated and more messy ... and I loved it!!!!
Read it years ago - and still remember all of it!

I remember that book!

Gee........How could a person forget it?

Enjoy Kristen!

Nov. 2, 2013: I read "A Friend of the Family" years back -- (knowing I was in love with this author and wanti
Nov 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-audible
I read this book because the book blurb compared it to a couple movies that I loved, The Ice Storm and American Beauty. Dr. Pete lives in an upper middle class suburb of New Jersey with his wife Elaine. their only son, Alec and close to Pete’s long time best friend, Joe (another doctor). In spite of his privileged childhood (or maybe because of it) Alec is spoiled , lacks ambition and snotty, to say the least. He becomes infatuated with Joe’s much older (and equally obnoxious) daughter, Laura. T ...more
Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
I read a lot of press about this book but it was a major disappointment to me. I failed to see the "great writing" about which I had read.

The anticipation was not worth the result and the writing was overly dramatic. The plot development was SO SLOW. I hated the foreshadowing and the jumping back and forth in time. Sometimes I would get a couple of sentences into a paragraph and then realize she had shifted time YET AGAIN. Annoying.

There was way too much detail, but about what?.....something t
Malena Watrous
Jan 14, 2010 rated it liked it
Just finished this novel last night--my first Kindle read. I had mixed feelings about the way that Grodstein built and sustained suspense about (at least) two different things that happened to (and as a result of) the narrator's misguided actions. On the one hand, I wanted to keep reading to find out what he had done wrong. On the other hand, I felt a bit manipulated by the amount of time it took to get the "prize" of these answers. Granted, this is part of the way that mysteries work. But the n ...more
Sara Serna
Jan 27, 2013 rated it did not like it
I couldn't wait for this book to be over so I could move on to something else. I was continually lost in time, the story jumped around so much that I had trouble placing where we were supposed to be. A third of the way through the book I noticed that the characters still hadn't been developed enough for me to relate to them or want to learn more about them. It wasn't until somewhere in the last 100 pages that I finally had a curiosity about what was the become of the families involved.

The narrat
Dec 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
As I was reading this powerful and unbelievably good novel--the story of a successful suburban father, husband, and doctor whose life begins to unravel in a seriously gripping way--I recalled the way I felt as I read the best passages of Philip Roth’s American Pastoral. My heart actually beat a little faster, as if I were witnessing the almost hyperreal, perfectly-dialogued scenes being played out right in front of me. In 300 very quickly moving pages, Grodstein manages to capture not just a swe ...more
Mar 30, 2013 rated it liked it
In the first few pages of A Friend of the Family a few interesting things are revealed about Dr. Pete Dizinoff. For starters, he's an upper middle aged man whose been cast out by his wife and son to live in the room above the garage. He's scared to pick up the phone to talk to his best friend. And then as if all that isn't bad enough, some crazy guy is accusing him of terrible things and throwing bottles at him at the waterfront.

Whoa, right? Heavy even. I found myself needing to find out what ki
Elizabeth Scott
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book is not like anything I've ever read. I'm not sure how to explain it, but I'm going to try. On the surface, it seems like a standard, well-written thriller: father worried about his son falling in love with a friend of the family's daughter, who is ten years older and has a pretty checkered past, and what happens when he tries to protect his son.

But here's the thing: I kept thinking about the book when I was done with it because something in it seemed...just a little off. And so I re-re
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like Lauren Grodstein's A Friend of the Family. I really wanted to. But in the end, I was disappointed. The novel was named one of Amazon's Best Books of the Month in November 2009; critics gave it rave reviews. Usually, that means something. And I'll have to hand it to Grodstein -- she made me interested in her story and in her characters. I wanted to know: what did Dr. Pete Dizinoff do? And truly, that is the driving question behind the story.

In the novel's beginning, Grodstein wri
Larry H
I first heard of Lauren Grodstein's "A Friend of the Family" when Amazon selected it as one of the best books of November. Since I'm a big fan of books about family dysfunction (quiet, you), I was quite eager to read it. And I'm pleased to say that once again, Amazon didn't steer me wrong. I thought this book was terrifically compelling and well-written, and devoured it really, really quickly.

Dr. Pete Dizinoff is an internist living a fairly idyllic life in suburban New Jersey. He and his wife,
Jan 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I completely forgot that the author is a woman writing first-person in a man's point of view - an especially amazing feat as Grodstein was 31 and childless writing about a late-middle-aged man's relationship with his only son. It wasn't until after I'd finished the book and reflected on the story as a whole that all of the complexities of the narration unfolded, and I thought to question the narrator. I was wrapped up in Dr. Pete's emotions and memories as he dealt with life's more complex issue ...more
Nicholas Sparks
Jan 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Lauren Grodstein’s new novel follows a doctor in turmoil and his college-dropout son after he starts a relationship with a woman who was acquitted of an unspeakable crime years earlier. It is a tense, intelligent story that will get you thinking as you quickly turn the pages.
Nancy Martira
Dec 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, library-books
It's not "Freedom," but I'm prepared to call "A Friend of the Family," a great American novel. Resolutely of its time and place (the white whine chilling in the fridge; the Saab is making funny noises, the Jewish Community Center, the shared beach rental, the annual New Years Day Brunch), the book also captures moments in time from Yonkers to Pittsburgh in the last forty years.

The novel centers around two best friends: each doctors, each patriarchs who have chosen to raise their families in the
Aug 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
An absorbing look at a suburban internist and the disintegration of his entire world. While the book cut back and forth in time more than I would have liked, it was a riveting read. Dr. Pete Dizinoff recounts his tale in a way that makes him feel quite real. You can feel his frustration, his despair, his desire to just make his kid do what is best for him all jumping off the page. Some of the tragedy that derails his life is telegraphed, some is surprising, but it is all believable. We are all a ...more
Sep 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Almost from the start I was drawn into this book in a very compelling way. I liked that the story is told from the perspective of a father as so often this genre of book is carried by a female voice. You also know straight away that the main character Pete has done something regretful and wrong, which adds just a hint of mystery to the book. As the story unfolds I was pulled full force in to the lives and struggles of this suburban NJ family. The central theme of the book dealt with parent child ...more
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jane Dugger
How do you rate a book where you think all of the characters are despicable?

How do you rate a book where you thought you might actually be physically ill while reading it but were compelled to continue because it was so well written?

How do you rate a book where you want to discuss it with everyone but don't want to suggest that anyone read it?

I went with 3 stars as an average between 2 stars for characters & story and 4 stars for writing & making me think.

I never would have picked this
Debbie "DJ"
Mar 14, 2013 rated it it was ok

I kept waiting for something to happen, nothing did. The story moved from different time periods and I would get lost in who was who. The only part of the book I enjoyed was the last 50 pages, in fact, that could have easily been the whole book. Boring, boring, boring!
Mar 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wouldn't you do everything in your power to facilitate that your child succeeds in life. Do you hope your child will pick the path you have always hoped for them. Always pictured that your offspring will be happy and thrive.
2 couples who have inextricably been best friends. Shared New Year's Day traditions, vacationed together, bought houses in the same small town outside New York City.
Except you don't want your child to get involved with that couple's offspring when he turns twenty-one because
Aug 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the core of this novel, A Friend of the Family, is Dr. Pete Dizenoff, prominent Internist in Round Hill, New Jersey. Pete is a hardworking man, who is deeply in love with his wife of 25 years, and who only wants the best for Alec, his 20 year old only child. So why is this husband and father, living in the garage, by himself, at the start of this family drama? Pete's dreams of the perfect life is falling apart before his very eyes. His wife wants a divorce, his son hates him, a patient's brot ...more
Katie O'Rourke
Oct 23, 2012 rated it really liked it

As Lauren Grodstein's novel opens, the narrator is lost. Pete is living in the studio above his garage while his wife contemplates divorce and his estranged son appears to be finished with him. His medical practice has disowned him as a malpractice case looms. He's being harrassed by the family of a former patient and he's avoiding phone calls from his best friend.

It takes the majority of the book to get to the root of this mystery and the quantity of back story does seem tedious at times. But o
Bonnie Brody
Feb 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This wonderful book goes back and forth in time, showing how Dr. Pete Dizinoff falls from grace by his own undoing. When the book opens, Pete is living in an apartment above his garage, estranged from his wife and son. He's been kicked out of his profitable and upscale medical practice and he is awaiting the judge's verdict in a malpractice charge. Told in the first person from Pete's point of view, the reader is manipulated through the psychological maze of Pete's family history.

Dr. Pete Dizino
Feb 05, 2013 rated it liked it
Pete Dizinoff is the patriarch of said family. His son, Alec, is more or less a knucklehead, who despite his father's best efforts has no real ambition in life. Or at least, not the type of ambition that his father would prefer.

Pete meddles rather extensively in his son's life. At one point, frustrated by his son's procrastination, he writes an essay for a college application on Alec's behalf.

The reader might ask, "why not just let your kid make his own stupid mistakes?"

The trick is Alec is his
Dec 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
What a find. You look forward to certain books months before they're released and happily pay full price for them, only to be underwhelmed. Then you pluck a book off a library shelf for free and have the wind knocked out of you by its sheer... rightness.

A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY, by Lauren Grodstein, is this book.

The doting doctor Pete Dizinoff has navigated his life to cater to the success of his only child, Alec, a moody "artist" who, at twenty, has dropped out of his uber expensive university a
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book was scarily good, one where the author nails everything so precisely that it makes you uncomfortable. I'm familiar with communities like this one where many parents use their children's successes and failures to define themselves. The story arc is almost entirely dependent on Pete's increasing sense of desperation, and I felt like Lauren Grodstein stayed incredibly true to him--that is to say, when he finally loses it, it felt absolutely right, the train never left the track. I loved t ...more
Carly Thompson
A Friend of the Family traces the disintegration of a wealthy New Jersey suburban family. The novel is narrated by Pete Dizinoff, a successful family doctor with a wife, a son, and close friends. Jumping back and forth in time, Pete describes the idyllic life he and his wife built with their beloved son Alec and the present day when Pete is estranged from his family and being sued for malpractice. Pete traces the problems in his life to the reappearance of Laura (the daughter of his best friends ...more
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
October Book Club Choice - How far would you go to protect your child and make sure they make all the proper choices in his/her life? Would you ever let them fail? In this story, the main character, Pete, is obsessed with protecting his son and does whatever he can to make sure he follows the "right" path - spending time with the "right" people, attending a "proper" college, chosing a "dignified" profession. As Pete pushes harder, his son, Alec, rebels and pushes farther away. Pete is so entrenc ...more
Sep 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Grodstein is a decent enough writer but the end result didn't prove tragic enough as the reader is anticipating something more tragic (not that the result of a doctor/patient relationship isn't) but we know it in the beginning. The dynamic between the protagonist doctor narrating his life in from various standpoints at times makes it a bit hard to know where you are in his life at the moment as you keep getting thrust back to his memories. I found myself reading faster to find out the final outc ...more
Nov 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A top read for 2009....
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
This novel centers around Pete Dinzinoff, a fortysomething doctor who loves his wife and his teenage son, Alec, and is content with the choices he's made to offer the kind of life he has always wanted for his family. Pete's best friend has a daughter, Laura, who was estranged for the family for years, but has recently moved home while putting the pieces of her life back together. The book explores what happens to these two families, and to Pete specifically, after Laura has returned home.

The sum
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Elaine (contains spoilers) 1 1 Oct 08, 2018 06:50AM  
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Lauren Grodstein is the author of the Our Short History (3/17), the New York Times bestselling A Friend of the Family, and the Washington Post Book of the Year The Explanation for Everything, among other works. She directs the MFA program at Rutgers University-Camden.
“Life really does go on. That's what I've learned. It goes.” 4 likes
“Everyone who's ever had intentions knows they mean much more than actions do.” 0 likes
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