When the story opens, Pete has been banished from his home to a bedroom above the garage. What he has done to merit this is the mystery which through flashbacks is eventually exposed to the reader. Pete is an internist with a successful practice in Round Hill, New Jersey. He has a lovely wife, Elaine, and a 20 year old son, Alec. Alec, a sensitive boy of artistic nature, has dropped out Hampshire College. Gradually we learn that Pete has lost his practice, his friends, and worse of all, his son.
Intruding on what had been a seemingly normal family life, is Laura, the beautiful 30 year old daughter of the Dizinoff's best friends. Laura's tragic and sad past is the catalyst which leads to Pete's downfall. It isn't long before Alec falls dangerously in love with Laura, and we are left to ponder if she uses Alec or in fact loves him in return. Pete who sees disaster around every corner sets out with good intentions to squash the romance. It becomes clear that Alec is the only child Elaine and Pete had been able to conceive. Possibly because of this, Pete is an overly protective parent, the kind which we have labeled "helicopter parent." Pete has always had a plan for Alec's life without ever taking into account Alec's needs which would allow him to grow into a complete adult. Pete is well-meaning, loves his son dearly, but is clueless about giving space and allowing his son to develop a sense of self. Now along comes Laura, ready to spoil all of Pete's hopes and dreams for his son.
Grodstein writes well, and though the story is tragic, I enjoyed reading her well-plotted novel. The characters are interesting and one feels they could be any neighbor down the street, living in desperation, but seemingly having the best of lives.