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Older Men Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Older Men is a novel about Elise Dintenfass, a sixteen-year-old high school senior who at the time of the story's beginning has been accepted into Yale. An only child, she has an extremely close relationship with her father, especially enjoying the excursions the two of them take to New York City without her mother. Her father, Dr. Nate Dintenfass, is a fifty-five-year-old, highly respected cardiologist. Elise's mother, June, who is thirty- seven, is Dr. Dintenfass's second wife. He left his first wife and married June after June became pregnant with Elise. He has several stepchildren from his first marriage, but at the beginning of Older Men, Elise has not met any of them.

In the course of the novel, June is hospitalized, supposedly for emotional problems, but Elise's maternal grandmother, who is also fifty-five, implies that Nate wanted her hospitalized so that he could be free of her and have affairs without interference. June also feels that Nate wants her kept in the hospital so that he can have his freedom. She also believes that the hospital, located in White Plains, New York, is doing her more harm than good.

She discovers that even though she voluntarily entered the hospital, she cannot get out. Eventually, she escapes and runs off to Maine, where Elise and Nate are vacationing. Elise finds June in the barn, and decides to help her mother stand up to her father and to help keep her out of the hospital. Nate pretends that he too is not going to try to get June to go back to the hospital, but on the trip back to their home in Connecticut, June realizes that he has made a turn that will take them not home but to White Plains. June and Elise demand that Nate not go to White Plains, and Elise finds the courage to tell her father to stop the car or he will never see her again. Nate stops the car and asks June to drive the rest of the way home.

By the end of the novel, June and Nate are divorced, and Elise is at Yale. She has become the friend of Nate's stepdaughter, Kara, and the lover of Nate's stepson, Tim, who is ten years older than Elise. For some unexplained reason, Nate's stepchildren have the last name of Dintenfass.

Older Men treats in a very straightforward manner a very dysfunctional family. Elise's parents no longer love each other. Elise wishes they would get a divorce. Her father's relationship to her is overly close, so much so that her mother says to him in front of Elise, "All...

(The entire section is 656 words.)