The Altruists #BookReview

Andrew Ridker | 2019

So, I think it’s been a long while, if ever, I’ve read a book and didn’t like any of the characters. 🤦🏾‍♀️ Even Barbara Kingsglover and her casually racists characters.. I’ve still been able to pull something likable out of them. And, don’t get me wrong, I liked the book, the story is intriguing and quite funny in some parts, but, the people you’re reading about are mostly pretentious, self-centered, conniving in some cases and unforgiving in others. How the author managed to write a darkly funny story about a bunch of un-fun people is beyond me. He gets 5 stars for that alone.

To be fair, I think the Alters family members typically start with good intentions but, nearly immediately, are distracted by their own needs, so, any and every plan goes to shit. Probably creating more grief rather than helping it. The story starts in present day, Dad Alter, Arthur, invites his children back to their family home, the scene of the crime if you will, to lean on them for loans to save it from foreclosure. So he and his much younger mistress can live in it.🙄 Of course the kids don’t know about the mistress or the foreclosure. Dad has been a widow for about a year. (Mom, at the time of her death, willed money that dad knew nothing about, to their two children. Wait until you hear where that money comes from! 😂) Anyway, Dad plans an elaborate weekend to spend individual quality time with each of his two children, reminding them of all the ‘good times’ they’ve spent together before climaxing to the big ask for cash. Through the outings is how we start to travel to the past and learn about each Alters source of pain and their very different perspectives on past events. The stories are dark but, humorous and very entertaining. Dad for example will tell how he, before getting married, travelled to Africa to assist villagers in creating what basically sounds like a portable potty. He ignores all red flags, breaks up with his girlfriend, moves to Africa, creates the potty, only to find out later the darn thing caused a breakout of disease that kills people. 🤦🏾‍♀️ Yikes. The fallout from that failed attempt at success was pivotal for him and finding out his wife may have shared the truth about it with his daughter is painful. Again, the characters are barely redeeming but, their story is interesting and definitely funny.

This is the authors first novel and, I think, typically some dangling chads are always in the mix with a first novel. Here, daughter Alter, basically gets told off by a schoolmate, that’s remarkably perceptive and got it right. The young girl feels this as well but, the author doesn’t explore the feelings about the argument at all. The scene just sort of happens and then…nothing. 🤷🏾‍♀️ On one hand, it was sort of anticlimactic to keep reading after that scene, kinda of like, welp, the gigs up, she’s got the point now but, on the other hand I really wanted to know how the story ended.

Also notable for me is the characters relationship with money. The author is a young millennial and I’m finding it interesting to see how they write about money. He seems to capture the top three dynamics here: the world owes it to me, I have it, but don’t anyone dare think I want it, whilst shopping at all the best places, and I have it, didn’t earn it but I’ll spend it and talk about as if I did. 😂 Lets see, we have daddy, daughter and son, respectively, in a nutshell.

This is a book worthy of reading again. I’d like to explore some of the characters and their inability to see the sky for all the clouds. Has to be some good life lessons in there! Really good book and definitely should be Comedy Central, Lifetime movie mash up. 😂 #Goodbook 21 of 36!

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