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The Birthdays

2.82  ·  Rating details ·  367 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
On an island off the coast of Maine, the Miller family reunites to celebrate the father's seventy-fifth birthday. Each of the adult children is expecting his or her own first child. The eldest, Daniel, grapples with the fact that his wife had to be artificially inseminated. Jake, the middle child, discovers that his wife is carrying twins after many trying years of fertili ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published June 5th 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sep 09, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I almost stopped reading this book a few times but kept hoping it would get better. It was a sad group of characters and the fact that their angst and self-absorption came to a boil at their father's seventy-fifth birthday dinner only increased my disgust with them. There wasn't a single character with which I could empathize and it was depressing to read about a family who were so separate from one another.
Janice Williams
I loved this book... the inner-workings of this family and the way the author set up the characters and their backstories was very good. The publisher's description states it "examines modern-day marriage, pregnancy, and parenthood." It's really a book about the relationships between siblings and the siblings with the parents, and how each person in a family gets locked into certain roles. I would recommend this book to fans of Elizabeth Berg (one of my favorite writers).
Feb 24, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Quite sad to start (for the first half actually!) Hoping it has a good lesson in the end?! Nope... not much. I didn't find much closure and I'm certainly not pleased with the book overall... oh well :(
Jul 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really really liked this novel. A weekend in the life of a family on the brink of the new generation, it was sensitive, insightful, fun, traumatic, heartfelt, moving, difficult and above all an enjoyable read. I can picture myself alongside the family on their beach house. Just my kind of book.
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An unfinished book, could never get into the characters. It has a lot of potential, but didn't live up to the possibilities
Nov 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I kinda felt like I was reading about my own family. Great character development and the story was fantastic.
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was really looking forward to reading this book because of the storyline but I was disappointed. The first day was like two thirds of the book. The other two days was rushed. We were in the main characters minds of them trying to sort things out but in the end there is no resolution. I don't think they still know what to do or of what's to come. But I guess you can't expect resolutions in 3 days. And I still don't know why it was called The Birthdays. It was just the father having a birthday.
Apr 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Amazon recommended this book to me based on my purchase history. I was glad I read it. Pitlor told the story of the Miller family 13 parents and their three children and a couple spouses, with all three women of the younger generation being expectant mothers 13 who spend a long weekend away together to celebrate the 75th birthday of the father. All three children and the spouses have various issues and challenges in their lives, while the mother is so absorbed in her personal exploits that she o ...more
Jul 22, 2007 rated it did not like it
This book had some definite bright spots - some nice writing and interesting characters, although none of the characters were particularly likeable. It was a fast read, though, despite the somewhat aggravating characters. I probably would've given this a 3 but I was really bothered by how the writer handled the "miscarriage" scene. When you're well into your third trimester, you don't just start bleeding and then have a D&C with no attempts to save the baby or even see if the heart is still ...more
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
I plodded my way through this book all the way to the end, hoping for closure and/or some other revelation about what the characters learned through their traumatic experiences. Unfortunately, that didn't happen and I thought the ending was a bit abrupt in terms of the storyline, though appropriate given the nature of the events happening over the course of a long weekend. As others have said, I didn't particularly like any of the characters, and so I was a bit disengaged right from the start. N ...more
Aug 02, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. I thought it really captured the dynamics of a real-life family. NO family is perfect. Each family member is very much their own individual and brings a unique dynamic to the family circle. It was interesting to see how they are interacted with one another.

Jake was so annoying. His constanct desire to impress and be acknowledged by his family was over the top. At times, I just cringed when I read about him.

I felt for Daniel. His life had been turned upside down by his accid
Megan Jordan
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an interesting book with a lot of depth of character. I felt the author was very authentic with how her characters would react to life changing circumstances, but some of their traits were a little over done. Much like life I suppose. I was a tad disappointed in the ending because I like to know what happens to all the characters, and I flipped the last page stunned to see I was at the end. What happened to everyone? Again, that is probably personal preference. Intriguing read.
Jan 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pitlor is certainly a talented author and the simplicity of the book was engrossing. There was a lot of depth to the characters yet they were easy to relate to. The story was great with the exception of the flagrant lack of resolution at the end. The only acceptable possibility is that Ms. Pitlor is setting up a second book, which I would personally look forward to, but I do not believe that that is the case. I crave more information about these characters and their future!
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I could, I'd choose three and a half stars for The Birthday because, though Pitlor's writing gets better as the novel progresses, it takes a while for her to find her sea legs. This is a family tale in an Anne Tyler vein, with believable characters who mistrust, misunderstand, misspeak, misstep---and who, in the end, love each other and show it.
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book follows a family who are reuniting to celebrate their father's birthday. All 3 children are grown, and all 3 are dealing with very different pregnancy situations. They have to try and get along with each other, while dealing with their own situations. I liked this one, although it wasn't the most uplifting of novels. The characters were very distinct and interesting.
This novel held such promise. It had enough mystery to propel me to finish the book. There were some really good moments where the author wasn't afraid to make the reader uncomfortable, but it lacked sincere depth to hold it all together. Maybe the author deliberately made the characters so neurotic, it failed to make them endearing.
Jane Sibley
May 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was going to be a quick light read but what I found instead was an intricate well thought out fascinating family with legitimate but interesting turmoil in their lives getting together at the family home for a long weekend in Maine. Never predictable and with a smatter of humor I was captured the whole way through. I felt sad to put this book down at the end.
Michelle Amarante
It's not often that I dislike the characters in a book, but this was one of them. What a bunch of self-absorbed people. I felt bad for the dad, he seemed to be the only really nice person out of the whole bunch.
Jul 09, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
although an easy read, this book was a long story without much of a plot or story. the author gave away everyone's secrets to the reader very early there were no surprises and no suspense. and in the end i just didn't really like any of the characters.
Sue Kozlowski
(Spoil alert) Good - 1st novel. Family meets in Maine for father's 75th b-day. Each family is pregnant. Jake and Liz are rich - pregnant with twins. Hillary is pregnant and doesn't know who the father is. Daniel and Brenda - lose baby on way to birthday.
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although I thought the characters were well written I felt like this story was really lacking something. I kept waiting for somthing to happen or for the plot to get better, but it didn't. The story just ended rather suddenly with no real resolution to any of the story lines
Abbie Proctor
Didn't really find any of the characters to be very likeable and didn't think it had much of an ending. I nearly stopped reading it a few times near the beginning, but it got a bit better during the second half.
May 23, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I shouldn't have bothered with this one. So uninteresting are the characters and relationships in this book and yet I kept reading with the hope something would spark. I couldn't even read the last couple chapters and just skimmed to the end to get done.
Generally a little self-indulgent, and it made me feel, at times, like I was reading a harlequin romance.

However, the characters definitely seeped into my subconscious and I thought about them, and their particular situations probably more than I should have.
Apr 16, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When I first started reading The Birthdays, I thought it was a story I would enjoy...I was wrong. This one was just okay. The characters never seemed to mesh. I did not like the flow of the story and most of the time I just wanted to put the book aside and start something else.
May 20, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book had an interesting concept with 3 women in 1 family, in various stages of pregnancy. But each character had so many issues. I guess I read to escape and I don't want to read about people going through the same type of issues.
Anne Jones
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
It didn't get my attention right away so i left it and went to another. Came back and did finish it but wasn't that excited. Family gets together and they each have individual trials. The book does not tell how the trials end so that leaves yoi hanging.
Aug 22, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got through over half of this book and NOTHING was happening at all. I read as far as I could before I was so bored with it, that I just gave up. I have only given up in the middle of a book a couple of times, but I just could not finish this one.
Susan Pithie
Enjoyable nothing too distinctive....I would have liked the characters not to have so much to say in their thoughts. It was little pat especially about the sister who was a single parent just falling into her new life. Not as much depth as could have been developed.
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
A great story about the bonds of family, despite the flaws of the family members.
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Heidi Pitlor has been the series editor of The Best American Short Stories since 2007. She is the author of the novel, The Birthdays. Her second novel, The Daylight Marriage, is forthcoming in May, 2015.
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