Rating: 4 / 5
Andrew Ridker’s The Altruists is the story of a deeply dysfunctional family that comes together for a long weekend, each for their own personal, and selfish, reasons.
Huge thank you to Viking Books for this free copy!
Siblings Ethan and Maggie are living distinctly separate, distinctly odd lives in New York City. Their father, Arthur, lives in their hometown of St. Louis, working as an untenured professor and dating a much younger colleague. Their mother died and left only her children a large, previously unknown, sum of money, which Ethan wiled away and Maggie refuses to spend.
Arthur won’t sell the giant, overpriced house that his family used to live in. But on his professor salary, he can’t continue paying the mortgage. Thus, he devises a plan to get his estranged children back to St. Louis for the weekend, during which he’ll guilt trip them into giving him money.
What ensues is a weekend of discomfort, hilarious and bewildering hi-jinx, and uncovered secrets. Will Arthur get the money he needs, or will he push his children even farther away than they already were? This is a story of familial drama, love, money, and African toilets – you’ll see.
Please take caution while reading The Altruists if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Death or dying
The Altruists is a weird, funny, and bewildering family drama. The family members are totally self-involved and almost wholly unlikeable – but in a quirky, totally manageable way. Usually I hate unlikeable characters, but the Alter family is completely oblivious, and laughably so, which eases the burden of my hatred for them.
While there’s no one to root for because everyone sucks, the series of events that take place while Ethan and Maggie are in town are very entertaining and allow you to better understand the cruxes of each character. There are also lots of flashbacks, such as the utterly unenchanting love story of Arthur and his late wife, that provide a fascinating backstory to the dysfunction of the Alter family. The characters are not likable, but they are extremely interesting.
Truthfully, The Altruists is a very odd novel and without a lot of sympathy or emotion injected into the plot lines. It’s almost like reading a Wes Anderson movie – pretty weird but completely entertaining and well-produced.
I’d love to give you an example of a book you may have read that could compare to see if you’d like it, but it’s so unique I just can’t. I recommend you give it a try and let it be what it is – super weird and moderately dissociative -, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Thanks for reading my thoughts on The Altruists. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya!