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Publisher's Summary

"With humor and warmth, Ridker explores the meaning of family and its inevitable baggage. The Altruists may not paint the prettiest picture, but it's a relatable, unforgettable view of regular people making mistakes and somehow finding their way back to each other." (People magazine's "Book of the Week")

"Super brilliant, super funny." (Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story and Lake Success

Named a most anticipated book of 2019 by The Millions and PureWow.

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 anxious recluse living off his mother's money on a choice plot of Brooklyn real estate; and Maggie, a would-be do-gooder trying to fashion herself a noble life of self-imposed poverty. On the verge of losing the family home, Arthur invites his children back to St. Louis under the guise of a reconciliation. But in doing so, he unwittingly unleashes a Pandora's box of age-old resentments and long-buried memories - memories that orbit Francine, the matriarch whose life may hold the key to keeping them together. 

Spanning New York, Paris, Boston, St. Louis, and a small desert outpost in Zimbabwe, The Altruists is a darkly funny (and ultimately tender) family saga that confronts the divide between baby boomers and their millennial offspring. It's a novel about money, privilege, politics, campus culture, dating, talk therapy, rural sanitation, infidelity, kink, the American beer industry, and what it means to be a "good person."

©2019 Andrew Ridker (P)2019 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"Ridker meticulously peels away the scabs that have grown over the wounds of the surviving Alters, laying bare, with compassion and piercing wit, the long-simmering antagonisms that haunt both father and children. At the same time, he gently hints at a way forward for this decidedly imperfect, but oddly appealing, family. A painfully honest, but tender, examination of how love goes awry in the places it should flourish." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"[A] smashing debut.... Ridker tells his tale with humor, insight, and depth, making this a novel that will resonate with readers." (Publishers Weekly

"Beautifully written, with witty, pitch-perfect dialogue and fascinating characters, Ridker's impressive, deeply satisfying debut is an extraordinarily insightful look at a family broken apart by loss and struggling to find a way back to each other and themselves." (Booklist

“A witty look at baby boomers and millennials and the things money can’t buy.” (Real Simple)

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  • Dawn L. Willliams
  • 2019-04-08

I kept waiting

I bought this book because of the good reviews. I did not enjoy it. I kept waiting for something to happen, or for some enlightening idea to shine through. I was disappointed. The only reason I finished was because I truly thought it would redeem itself.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful