This is Where I Leave You

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Title: This is Where I Leave You
Author: Jonathan Tropper
Pages: 339
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Plume (Penguin)
Release Date: August 6, 2009

This is one of those books I that I really enjoyed, yet I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what to say about it!

I felt like, in a way, it was perfect. I loved the author's writing -- the way he put his thoughts into words. I loved his wit... his insight... his view of the world. I loved the way the book was organized... the pacing. The characters were real, crazy, likeable. And how the author managed to balance a topic that was so tender, and sometimes sad, yet also made it hilarious I don't know, but he sure did! The humor was, at times, subtle and, at other times, simply laugh-out-loud.

So now you're wondering, "but what is it about??" (at least those of you who haven't already read a ton of wonderful reviews for this). Judd Foxman is the narrator and main character. We learn at the beginning that his father has passed away and his last dying wish was that his family would sit shiva for him. For those who don't know, like I didn't, shiva is, in Judaism, the seven day period of mourning that the immediate family/first degree relatives spend together. It was sort of neat to learn about this tradition during which the family sits in low-to-the-ground mourning chairs and accepts visitors throughout the week. BUT, the problem is that Judd Foxman has quite the dysfunctional family. And he just recently caught his wife in bed with his boss. And apparently it's been going on for a while. And now she's pregnant. Oh yes, and each member of Judd's family has their respective dysfunctions that when put together makes this book so hilarious.

The book is written through the seven days the family is together. In that seven days they manage to learn more about each other (since prior to this they really hadn't spent much time together). This book sort of reminded me of the National Lampoon vacation movies -- but more dysfunctional and funnier.

There were two quotes I wanted to include that were observations I could relate to.
If they're letting her cry anyway, I don't really see the point of the baby
monitor, but that's one of those questions I've learned not to ask, because I'll
just get that condescending look all parents reserve for non-parents, to remind
you that you're not yet a complete person. p.42
No offense to parents, really, but I was able to relate to that quote quite a bit and so I thought it was hilarious. (But if you didn't find that funny, no worries, Tropper really does add quite a bit of more obvious hilarity!) Here's another I thought was fairly insightful but not one of the funny ones:
"It would be a terrible mistake to go through life thinking that people are
the sum total of what you see." p.69
The only thing I would warn readers of is the large amount of talk and reference to sex. This didn't bother me, but I do remember reading this in other reviews and there was certainly a focus on it. I wouldn't necessarily lend this to anyone very conservative.

But I definitely loved this book and am looking forward to catching up on the author's backlsit!

9 comments:

christina said...

This book sounds hilarious Jenny! My most immediate thought was how great this would have been for a MFT course.

Oh and I hear ya about that first quote. Boo to people who think that I might not have my own opinion about raising kids because I choose not to have them. Chances are I spend more time with kids as a whole than parents. :)

Cheers!

Mary said...

I read this a couple of years ago and LOVED it (on my fav list that year). I hope someone will make the movie.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Funny, I just read this and the review is coming next week! I loved it too, immensely. Loved his wiseass cynicism, his quirky characters, and the little injection of tenderness. BTW, it has been commissioned for a movie, but I have concerns about it being anything other than just another movie about family dysfunction. On the positive side, Tropper is writing the screenplay.

Booksnyc said...

Glad you read and enjoyed this - it is one of my fav books! I just saw that Tropper will be reading in a NYC bookstore - can't wait to attend!

Zibilee said...

I like the sound of this one, and could totally relate to that first quote. I have seen really good reviews of this book, and for some reason, it reminds me a lot of The Believers by Zoe Heller, which I think you would also really enjoy. Great review on this one, I am going to have to try to check it out!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Wow. Cool review. Sounds interesting.

Kari said...

Not what I expected from this book! Glad I read your full review rather than skimming, because this book hadn't interested me before. The plot sounds like one that would make a good comedy, so I'm glad to hear the author took it in that direction. Thanks for the heads up!

Meg said...

I've loved Tropper's books in the past and definitely want to get my hands on this one!

Would you say that even with the premise of the book revolving around a death, the book is more funny than sad?

Jenny said...

Meg, it was a pretty good mix of both. It's hard to answer because it was sadder than I expected but still was funnier than I expected to.

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