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A Friend of the Family


A Friend of the Family

By all accounts, Doctor Peter Dizinoff is living the American
dream: he has risen from humble beginnings in Yonkers, New York,
where his dad sold insurance and shared with Pete and his younger
brother a dream of a bigger home and a better life. Through hard
work and determination, Pete achieves this dream for himself as he
earns a college scholarship and escapes the rough neighborhood.

While attending the University of Pittsburgh, Pete meets his
eventual wife, Elaine. After college, the couple lives in a stately
home in Round Hill, New Jersey, where Pete builds a thriving
medical practice. Elaine, who has received a PhD in English
Literature, is totally devoted to Pete. Following graduation, they
manage to remain close with Joe and Iris Stern, good friends from
their college days. Pete and Elaine have celebrated the births of
all the Sterns’ children --- from their first-born, Laura, to
their other three kids --- all the while wondering why they
themselves can’t conceive even one child.

After years of battling infertility, Pete and Elaine are at last
blessed with a son, Alec. Pete is unashamedly devoted to Alec and
has pinned his hopes and dreams on his son’s future. Now 20
years old, Alec has a mind of his own and a passion in art. He
drops out of school to study art and lives in a studio apartment
above his parents’ garage…until someone from the past
turns their lives upside down.

When she was a teenager, Laura Stern was accused of committing a
crime so unbelievably heinous that the State of New Jersey was
determined to lock her up for years. At the time, her parents
believed she was mentally deficient and not responsible for her
act. Convinced of her innocence and willing do everything in their
power to keep her out of prison, the Sterns, especially Joe,
risked their future to protect Laura.

After several years pass, Laura comes back home, and Alec
immediately becomes fascinated with her and wants to follow her
wherever she leads him. But Pete is determined to save his son from
himself --- and especially from Laura’s influence. During the
turmoil of Laura’s return, Pete becomes distracted from his
practice and falls from grace. He is threatened with a medical
malpractice suit and charged with a horrendous crime. As his life
is spinning out of control, Pete readily admits, “I never was
as grateful as I should have been for everything I had.”
There’s a poignant message to be taken away from this story,
one made all the more clear as you near the end.

A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY is a gripping novel with a mystery at its
core. Lauren Grodstein has written a compelling story with
unforgettable characters in unenviable situations. A story of love,
control, friendship, courage and the sacrifices fathers make to
protect their children, this engrossing book grabs you and
doesn’t let go.

Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt ( on April 21, 2011

A Friend of the Family
by Lauren Grodstein

  • Publication Date: November 9, 2010
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • ISBN-10: 1616200170
  • ISBN-13: 9781616200176