by Lauren Grodstein; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Algonquin Books, 2009, 320 pages, $23.95 hardcover, $13.95 softcover
Dr. Peele is chief psychiatrist of Behavioral Health and Crisis Services, Rockville, Maryland, and clinical professor of psychiatry, George Washington University, Washington, D.C. Dr. Siddiqi is chief resident of St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, D.C.
How is it that an internist with over 30 years of successful practice is now living in a small room above his garage, is isolated from his own family, has a malpractice suit pending after the death of one of his patients, and is associated with a young woman who claims that he raped her? A Friend of the Family shows how such an eventuality can befall any successful professional and is one that many of us can relate to.
Peter and Elaine have an only child, Alec, now 20, in whom Peter has placed very high hopes. Since medical school Peter and his wife, Elaine, have been close to Dr. Stern, who has a thriving OB-GYN practice, and his wife, Iris, who is a very successful businesswoman. The oldest of the Stern's four children is Laura, now near 30. Laura had a very troubled youth, and her unspeakable actions as a young adult made her an outcast from her community. Even a dozen years later, Peter cannot think of Laura without a sense of revulsion.
Imagine Peter's horror when his cherished son, rather than leaving for college and launching a successful professional career, starts a passionate relationship with Laura, which Peter fears can lead only to a downward spiral for his family. As it turns out, Alec's relationship with Laura acts as a catalyst for a number of climactic events that Peter finds himself at a loss to manage.
This book's suspense, humor, compelling characters, and eerily true-to-life situations make for an interesting read.