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, and 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 him out of close calls with the law, and even ensured his acceptance into a good college.
But Pete never counted on the wild card: Laura, his best friend’s daughter—ten years older than Alec, irresistibly beautiful, with a past so shocking that it’s never spoken of. When Laura sets her sights on Alec, Pete sees his plans for his son not just unraveling but being destroyed completely. Believing he has only the best of intentions, he sets out to derail this romance and rescue his son. He could never have foreseen how his whole world would shatter in the process.
Lauren Grodstein delivers a riveting story in the tradition of The Ice Storm,American Beauty, and Little Children, charting a father’s fall from grace as he struggles to save his family, his reputation, and himself.
Amazon Best Books of the Month, November 2009: In A Friend of the Family, Lauren Grodstein, author of the breakout debut novel, Reproduction Is the Flaw of Love, goes to even greater literary heights with a contemporary suburban drama brewing with an undercurrent of violence that, with each turn of the page, takes on the weight of an American tragedy. As the book opens, Peter Dizinoff, a successful New Jersey doctor, is struggling to adjust to the aftermath of his actions as the foundation of his personal and professional life crack beneath his feet. At the center of his troubles is his beloved son Alec, who deflates his father's high expectations when he drops out of college after just three semesters and moves into the apartment above their garage. And when his son begins seeing Laura, the troubled daughter of Peter's best friend who is ten years older than Alec and lives in the tainted shadow of being acquitted for an unspeakable crime when she was 17, Alec's ambivalence to his father's hopes in living a good life turn into a simmering rage. Dizinoff, a man with a clear definition of right and wrong, flips back and forth in time as he narrates the history of events that build their way to a layered, emotionally wrenching climax. --Brad Thomas Parsons