The Altruists by Andrew Ridker

The Altruists

A vibrant and perceptive novel about a father’s plot to win back his children’s inheritance.Arthur Alter is in trouble. A middling professor at a Midwestern college, he can’t afford his mortgage, he’s exasperated his much-younger girlfriend, and his kids won’t speak to him. And then there’s the money–the small fortune his late wife Francine kept secret, which she bequeathed directly to his children.Those children are Ethan, an anxio...

Details The Altruists

TitleThe Altruists
Release DateMar 5th, 2019
GenreFiction, Contemporary

Reviews The Altruists

  • Chris
    Ho-Hum - I Really struggled to finish reading this disappointing book. One of the reviews on the back cover says this is “super brilliant and super funny.” Really? Are they praising this one and the same book? Because I’m not seeing it or feeling it. Basically, this is a story about a self centered middle class Jewish family. They are an unlikeable, droll cast of characters; faulty in shape and form and in figuring out and achieving their ...
  • Brandice
    Arthur Alter finds himself in a dilemma at 60 years old - Life hasn’t turned out how he planned. His wife Francine passed away, his relationship is distant with his 2 adult children, he hasn’t been offered tenure at the university where he teaches, and he owes a lot on the mortgage for the family home. As such, Arthur decides to invite his children, Ethan and Maggie, back home to St. Louis, to request their financial assistance in saving the ...
  • Michael Ferro
    My full review is now up at Fiction Writers Review later this month:, this is the real deal. Read this book.What would happen if we took an unsympathetic, aging male character—comparable to those frequently spotted in the masterworks of, say, Jonathan Franzen—and plopped them into the middle of our current #MeToo era of heightened social awareness and cultural responsibility? Or, simply put, what ...
  • Fabian
    The American Family Saga is alive & well in literature in the late 2010s. And what it all boils down to is: everyone is hella selfish, the push-and-pulls of family ties are severe, your life is your family's, or, destiny is dictated in large part by.We do hear a few "I deserve"s, modern instances of privilege, and we even meet siblings who live in NYC but are estranged. Basically, spoiled! But what a beautiful novel! We've seen it all before (tru...
  • Ova - Excuse My Reading
    Short take: this is a novel about a middle-class but not so rich Jewish family, the mum Frances have passed away and left the family fortune to her two children. The husband/father Arthur has financial troubles and he invites his two children over, plotting/hoping financial help from them. I can say this felt like a bit of a Meg Wolitzer book. .Frankly, this book felt like one of those American TV series, the elegant comedy ones without laughter ...
  • SueKich
    If you don’t care about the characters, how can you care for the book?This is Andrew Ridker’s debut novel and it tells the now familiar story of a dysfunctional Jewish-American middle-class family. We read plenty of books, do we not, where we dislike the main character intensely yet still manage to enjoy the book itself? Admittedly, it does help if one or more of the subsidiary characters has some appeal but here in The Altruists none of the ...
  • Joseph
    I do not envy comic novelists. Besides the challenges facing any novel writer, they have to elicit a smile, chuckle or smirk from their readers at regular intervals. Then - if and when they get it right - they face the risk of seeing their work dismissed as ‘(s)light’ fare. A case in point, in my opinion, was Andrew Sean Greer’s Less, which I greatly enjoyed and which I think really did deserve the Pulitzer, but which was slated in some qua...
  • Natalie
    Ridker has written one of the finest novels I have read about a family, highly dysfunctional, dealing with the death of the matriarch. Despite Francine Klein's death, she is the center of the novel and as a reader I identified very strongly with her.Her husband Arthur is a cheat, a liar and a failure. He had never been a good father but after her death, he becomes more entrenched in his own narcissistic world. He has a girlfriend, clearly there t...
  • Ashley Bergman Carlin
    Ridker is a good writer and this is a good, but not great, debut. He writes from the perspectives of 4 characters and excels at the son and flounders with the daughter (who has a scene that displays such a lack of self-awareness that she comes across as a 7 year old and it's not very believable).It's your typical dysfunctional family novel and there's nothing too exciting here, though a subplot that takes place in Zimbabwe is pretty stellar. Some...
  • Brett G
    Deeply hilarious and deeply moving. I couldn't put it down (finished it at about 4:30am one morning because after starting to read 6 hours earlier, I couldn't stop myself til I was done). Very likely the best novel I've read in the last few years.
  • Offbalance
    I never know if I should be impressed by or annoyed by someone who creates characters who manufacture such utter and complete loathing in me. I wanted to smack the shit out of each of the leads in this book. Between Ethan's pathological passiveness, Maggie's masochism masquerading as magnanimity, or Arthur's assholishness, I just couldn't even deal with this family anymore. But, if they were well-rounded enough for me to hate them this intently, ...
  • De'Shawn Winslow
    This is a wonderful novel. It tackles topics such as parenthood, loss, socio-economic class, academia, sexual identity, sibling rivalry and love. I enjoyed all four of the main characters. What a captivating book! I highly recommend reading this when it's out this spring!
  • James Beggarly
    Really nice debut novel about a father, brother and daughter who slowly come undone in their lives with the death of the mother. Smart and sharp and told with a wealth of humor throughout.
  • Alison Hardtmann
    Arthur Alter is in a tight spot. He took the visiting professor job at Danforth College, convinced he'd quickly be hired full-time and be given tenure. Despite moving his family across the country and derailing his wife's more successful career, he never moves into a permanent posting, instead being given fewer classes to teach over the years, so that now he's down to one. His children live far away and don't speak to him. And his wife may have h...
  • Elizabeth
    I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book via First To Read for my honest review on this book.This story is about the Alter family - Arthur, Francine, Maggie, and Ethan. They are torn apart after Francine's death and Arthur's affair. Arthur tries to pull his family back together for his own selfish reasons. Though during this weekend with his children, they all come to learn things about themselves as they are pushed to their emotional lim...
  • Heather
    First of all, this is an impressive debut novel from such a young author. Secondly, I am from, and still live in, St. Louis, and it was very clear to me that Andrew Ridker not only spent some significant time here but also did a very good job of accurately describing this sometimes strange city.
  • Chrissie
    A little slow-going, The Alruists couldn't seem to make up its own mind about what it wanted to say and in what style this message should be delivered. Presenting an episodically-based, nonlinear, flashback heavy timeline and structure, the entire book gave off strong vibes of definitely heading somewhere important. Conversely, the design and actual execution felt like a book that wanted instead to just be a meandering, thought-provoking tale of ...
  • Anja Sheppard
    Rating: 4/5 The Altruists was an unexpected pleasure for me. I usually don’t enjoy realistic fiction depicting the ups and downs of family dynamics, but Andrew Ridker really hit the nail on the head with his characterization of a father, mother, daughter, and son, each with individual personalities that inevitably feed off of each other.The Alters are a seemingly normal Midwestern family, but with the tragedy of Francine’s (the mother’s) de...
  • Jill Meyer
    I'd never seen the noun "altruist" before reading the new novel, "The Altruists" by Andrew Ridker. According to the on-line dictionary, the word means "an unselfish person whose actions show concern for the welfare of others". That meaning seems to be the one Ridker is going for in telling the story of the Alter family of St Louis. Francine and Arthur are the parents, Ethan and Maggie are the grown children, and by the time the story opens, Franc...
  • Isabelle | Nine Tale Vixen
    I received a review copy through First to Read. This does not affect my rating or opinions.3.5 stars. It was practically the Alter family credo, an anti-Hippocratic oath: First, Do No Good.Literary fiction generally falls outside my comfort zone, but this one has a kind of charm that I can't quite explain. The writing alternates between plain and function (in a good way) and so-accurate-it-almost-hurts observations wherein nothing is sacred and n...
  • brettlikesbooks
    oh, these characters. in spite of (or because of) their painful flaws and failures, you so root for them—both as individuals and as a family + whip-smart, deep, sharply funny•“Because that was the thing about trying to do good: you always wound up knuckled in the gut.”•instagram book reviews @brettlikesbooks
  • Helen
    I won a copy of this book and I look forward to reading and reviewing when it arrives. Yahoo!Wow, what a dysfunctional family. I could not stand any of the characters in this book except possibly the mother. I have to admit that I found the book quite interesting and I was happy to see that the one character I disliked the most, the father, did receive justice in the end. I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway and I was so surprised that th...
  • Jennifer Foster
    Can’t believe I actually finished this book. It revolves around a self-centered middle class Jewish family, all unlikeable to me with zero redeeming qualities whatsoever. Probably the only comedic aspect of book is pure irony of the title. It was well written but the nonlinear timeline jumps just left it even more fragmented & unsatisfying.
  • David
    There were moments in the book that achieved what literature can do so well: provoke me to reflect on my life choices through empathy and sympathy with people I'll never meet in person but whose patterns of thinking and feeling I can observe and compare to my own. As the title suggests, moral motivation (or the declaration thereof) plays a central role in Andrew Ridker's debut novel, and I doubt that many readers can both complete and escape from...
  • Amy
    A book on dysfunctional families? Sign me up. It’s no secret that I love reading these so The Altruists was right up my street and I want to say a huge thanks to the publisher for sending this my way. Arthur Alter is skint and estranged from his two children - his bisexual son Ethan who lives a rather reclusive life in Brooklyn living off his mother’s money and Maggie, who despite having money, wants to dedicate her life to helping others and...
  • Cian O hAnnrachainn
    The literary world is filled with them, the Jewish girls who live in New York and hate their mothers, the gay man, the scion of academe, and all so self-absorbed as to make them laughable. They are here, in THE ALTRUISTS, but author Andrew Ridker does not present them as serious folk worthy of sympathy. The family at the center of the novel is a dysfunctional crew, with no redeeming characteristics. We don’t have to cheer for them, feel for the...
  • Kira Vine
    An interesting character study, centered around a crumbling-middle-class family of discontented souls. I would really give 3.5 stars but rounded up for the risk the author takes by making none of his characters inherently likeable. I enjoyed following their story to a satisfying - if unrealistic for that fact alone - finale. I appreciated that college was not portrayed as a pinnacle of youthful joy. I think I was on the fence about this novel unt...
  • Ives Phillips
    If you want to know what "not everything is black and white" look likes, then you need to note the characters in "The Altruists"; where a father is selfish and calculating with formerly semi-good intentions now entirely jaded, a son is frustratingly compliant and self-loathing to a point that you want to hug him and squeeze the angst out of him, and a daughter is peak sanctimonious and self-sacrificing which may be detrimental to the very people ...
  • Jennifer Myers
    A deep story about a family in flux. Each character (Arthur, the engineering professor dad who is pretty full of himself, Ethan, the confused and depressed first child, Maggie, the second child with a chip in her shoulder, and Francine, the mom that held them together) is richly examined and felt very real to me. The book features back stories of the characters, helping the reader understand their personalities, building up to the moment of recko...
  • Sarah
    I was struggling so hard to get into this book. I made it halfway before finally giving up. Honestly it just comes off as pretentious bullshit to me. It's another book about another dysfunctional family. I couldn't get into, maybe I just don't get it. Sadly, one of the few books I've actually given up on.