cover image Hope


Andrew Ridker. Viking, $28 (432p) ISBN 978-0-593-49333-5

Ridker’s slashing satire of upper-middle-class life (after The Altruists) turns on the foibles of a seemingly charmed Jewish family in Brookline, Mass. Scott Greenspan is a well-respected cardiac surgeon. His wife, Deb, is known for her good work on various school and synagogue activities. Their daughter, Maya, works at a prestigious New York publishing house, while her younger brother, Gideon, is a biology major at Columbia and hopes to become a doctor. The Greenspans’ perfect facade is shattered after Scott is caught falsifying data on a clinical trial. In the wake of this scandal, Deb moves in with her lesbian lover, who runs a network of military-inspired charter schools; Maya resumes an unhealthy relationship with the high school English teacher who seduced her when she was 17; and Gideon drops out of college, goes to Israel on a Birthright tour, and refuses to return home from the Middle East. Meanwhile, Scott fights to restore his reputation, win back Deb, and put his family back together. Ridker’s account of characters in free fall is painfully funny, filled with cringeworthy scenes that expose them at their most needy. Yet he never loses sight of their basic humanity. This rivals Taffy Brodesser-Akner’s Fleishman is in Trouble in its pitch-perfect portrayal of Jewish American life. (July)