The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

Meet Edie Middlestein…lawyer, mother, wife, passionate about food.  So passionate, in fact, that she is overweight and battling diabetes.  Her husband leaves her, and her grown up children try to fix her.  And so unfolds the story of The Middlesteins, a readable and touching family saga. There are many memoirs of dysfunctional families, especially those with alcoholics, and stories of families with anorexic children, but I found this novel of a family whose matriarch couldn’t resist food unique.  Edie’s story is revealed through a combination of present time and flashbacks and through several characters’ points of view.  Edie’s life is what it is.  She is limited by her weight and off-putting to her family and friends.   Attenberg explores Edie’s character frankly and without being cruel.  And, we learn that Edie’s husband Richard and her children, Benny and Robin, are just as lonely and off-putting, even without an eating disorder.  The search for compassion — and each character ultimately experiences it–and the journey for each Middlestein toward becoming a more compassionate person is what makes The Middlestein’s worth the read.