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A young couple, Cynthia and Adam Morey, are getting married in Pittsburgh, US.  The bride has chosen an unpopular bridesmaid.  In total, the wedding costs $38,000 American, and everything is being paid for by Cynthia's stepmother and father.  Adam's parents buy the couple a honeymoon in Mexico during which Cynthia becomes pregnant with a girl named April.
One year later Adam and Cynthia are living in New York, US, and have another child named Jonas.  Adam worked at Morgan Stanley, but quit to work at a smaller firm named 'Perrini Capital'.  The Moreys send their children to private schools which cost $60,000 each year, and Cynthia likes to buy her children expensive items.
Cynthia is a stay at home mom.  Adam's boss at Perrini capital takes Adam, Cynthia, and the children to his vacation home for the weekend.  Cynthia is offended by the boss' wife and the family leaves early.  They are jealous of the boss' luxurious home and expensive car, the boss promises Adam that one day he will be just as rich, and Cynthia encourages Adam to pursue the wealth they've seen.  Adam wants to succeed, but not become a clone of his boss.
Cynthia's mother calls her and asks her to pick up her stepsister named Deborah from the hospital.  Deborah was in the hospital because she overdosed on drugs.  Cynthia has to rush to take the children to the dentist, and briefly loses them in the New York train system.  After this event, years pass without the two speaking to eachother; this silence is a result of mutual ambivalence toward eachother.
Adam feels pressured by Cynthia to increase his earnings.  He begins using illegal insider information to profit from stock market put and call options.  The illegal network which develops involves switching prepaid phones each month for Adam and his partner, offshore bank accounts, and stock broker accounts in fake names.  After Adam is fired from his job at Perini because the boss is angry that Adam doesn't want to take over Perini Capital and suspects him of plotting to start his own firm and steal Perini's analysts, Adam confesses his insider trading to Cynthia, who applauds his bravery and diligence.
By this point, April is 15 and Jonas is 14.  One of April's friends, Robin, hides at the Moreys after being beaten by her father.  Cynthia allows April and her friends to go to parties and drink alcohol. Jonas is in a band which he wants to call, 'The Privileges'.  Robin's mother commits suicide.
Jonas goes on to attend the University of Chicago where he feels divided from the rest of the student body because of his family's wealth.  Nikki is the name of Jonas' girlfriend.  April visits Jonas and meets Nikki. Later, April goes clubbing in New York with Russians, taking drugs and drinking alcohol, and the driver of the car April is in crashes into a van.  She is not hurt in the car crash.  Jonas happens to see April by the side of the road while he is shopping the next day, and takes her home.
Adam has opened up his own hedge fund which is preparing to file for its own IPO.  The Moreys begin receiving unwanted media attention and commit to getting April out of the clubbing scene.  Cynthia's father falls ill in Florida, US, and a stranger calls on his behalf asking Cynthia for money, which she denies, but agrees to go to Florida and assist her father emotionally and financially.  April and Adam return from a business trip in China to Florida.  Cynthia's father's cardiac problems progress in unison with dementia.
Jonas is working on a Master's thesis in art and goes to the apartment of an artist he likes.  The artist, named Joseph Novak, beats Jonas with a pipe and drags Jonas into the apartment.  Cynthia is calling Jonas but Novak throws away Jonas' cell phone and Jonas is afraid, so he stays in Novak's apartment.  As Novak finishes an elaborate drawing, Jonas gets up and leaves the apartment.

This book offers a unique insight into the lives of the richest people.  Through Jonas' wrestling with stereotypes, Dee depicts rich people as complex human beings, rather than contemptuous, carbon-copy moneybags on two feet.
There is a persistent theme of the Christian religion throughout the novel.  Cynthia repeats to herself, 'God gives you nothing you can't handle'.  Her father prepares for battle in a war flashback in his hospital bed as he is about to die, preparing him for his last fight.  Jonas discovers his strength as he is pushed to the limit by an attacker.  April, who felt as though she was shortening her useless and boring life with drugs and partying, receives a speech about keeping faith from her father.
In the beginning of the book, April asks her father where they come from, and the father says his family is from England, and the mother's from Russia.  April meets up with Russian drug dealers and her father buys an expensive flat in London, GBR.  I doubt Dee was implying that Russians are inferior to Englishmen, but if that's not what he was implying, I'm not sure what his purpose in including those details was.
A suspiciously coincidental sequence of events in the Moreys' lives wrap themselves up in an equally suspicious neat little bow about staying positive.  Unrealistic and corny, but positive.  The book kept me entertained and left me feeling better than when I started reading it.

  • Man with family is pressured into making more money
  • Through illegal means, he builds a legal Hedge Fund empire
  • The man's wife's father becomes ill in the hospital
  • While the man's son is kidnapped, the son's grandfather is on the verge of death
  • The son escapes his kidnapper


    Dee, Jonathan. The Privileges: A Novel. New York: Random House, 2010. Print.Book about a family keeping their faith amidst struggles in their climb up the social ladder.

    This post first appeared on Fiction, please read the originial post: here

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