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on September 20, 2017
t's pretty rare that a book makes me laugh out loud twice in the first five pages, but this one did--to me, the strongest part of this novel is the first quarter of it, in which the whip-smart, funny writing beautifully balances the contradictions of life, in which things are sometimes completely awful and completely hilarious at the same time, and the sharpness of the writing itself skewers the heart of the matter while drawing blood as collateral damage.

I was hoping that the story would break out of a certain predictable pattern of tropes, but it didn't. Nebbishy guy measures his self-worth largely by the attractiveness of the women he can score with; emotionally stunted brothers solve problems using tools available to any three-year-old; wisecracking sister enters middle age with sarcastic resignation. The most satisfying relationship in the book was between Judd and Horry, the neighbor's son...there's a real compassion and tenderness there that is lacking from his relationships with women, and a fraternal camaraderie lacking in his relationships with his brother. I can't honestly tell whether this was deliberate, as the first-person narrator seems persistently unaware of the ways in which this character is a stand-in for everything he can't accomplish, emotionally, in his "real life."

Toward the end of the book, I'd become impatient with the stereotypes, but I'm still giving this four stars because they're such well done stereotypes, and the writing is eminently quotable right to the end.
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on September 19, 2016
I read this book for book club and finished it in about three (3) days time. The author does a really good job of painting the scene so you can actually visualize it playing out as you read. This book shows how off kilter and messy family life can be. A true testament of really life with all of the heartbreak, anger, and confusion that goes along with it. Tropper's descriptions of the anguish one feels when discovering their supposed partner in life has been unfaithful is uncanny. The only reason I did not give this book five stars even though I read it rather quickly, was that some of the content was a little too unbelievable to happen in seven short days (SPOILER ALERT!!!! Like the fact that Judd is not more upset with his sister when he finds out that she cheated on her husband, when Judd knew for a fact how badly that hurts or the crazy seen with his sister-in-law in the basement). One thing for sure, I really appreciate my family even more after knowing the craziness that is the Foxman family. This is the first book I have read by this author and I plan on reading some of his other novels.
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on October 10, 2014
If you liked that, read this. If that book left you cold, then don't bother with this one. I know the movie was reviewed as one of the funniest movies of the year by someone. Maybe the movie is better, but I won't bother going after reading this. Am I missing something? This dysfunctional family is so filled with negativity, burnt ambitions, failed relationships, and anger, that I failed to care about any of the characters. As they gather to sit shiva after the death of their father, a family that has drifted apart, spends seven days together, unwillingly, because their mother insists it was their non-religious father's last request. No one loves the one they're with, there is more unbridled sex with anyone and everyone, fighting, bleeding, peuking, and angry, smart-alecky remarks and put downs than I cared to read. I did finish it because I was reading it for a book club, but these people were so miserable, that no one got along. They were exactly the type of people who would make me miserable! I doubt I could make it through seven days with them either. Even though things sort of wrap up in the end, there is very little redemption to cause me to recommend this book or author.
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on April 2, 2017
I think everyone that reads this will connect with the characters or the situation in someway. At first I thought it was a little too soap opera but then as you get to know the personalities and grief there is a story, and there not always happy. Everyone has problems, there's more to people then whats on the surface, do we really know our siblings and its hard to loose a parent. Understanding and forgiveness. It wasn't a "couldn't put it down book" but I found it enjoyable and recommend it.
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on October 10, 2014
Funny? Really? At first it made me laugh. Then, all the references to masturbation ad naus. got way over the top. And I'm no prude, either. Then, Mom, well, that was quite a bit to see the sons accept her 'new' self, although she was always a free thinker. It was all too contrived, as if 'jerking' the dog's chain in appealing to someone looking for 'artistic porn' and scripted-ready movie screen, with you-know-who as scriptwriter!! Save your $$.
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on March 12, 2017
This novel is a well-written glimpse into a loving but dysfunctional family brought together by the death of their father and his request that they sit Shiva for him in the proper Jewish tradition.
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on August 6, 2017
Bitter sweet rendition of a truly dysfunctional Jewish family who were thrown together by their dying ing fathers last wishes that the seven day traditional Shiva be sat by the family upon he's death. Both sad and sometimes very funny, the family secrets evolve and at the end reader realize that may be they can find forgiveness and love for each other and maybe their lives were not as bad as they originally thought.
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on January 8, 2015
The writing here was great. I usually underline brilliant/witty lines as I read, but every page would have had underlining had I continued that practice. I loved all of the characters. This family was close-knit when they were younger and all living in the same house, but years later when they have (mostly) all established families/lives of their own they return to their childhood home for a week to "sit shiva" after their father's funeral, discovering they don't know each other as well as they used to. But they still love each other. I loved the dialogue, loved the messiness, laughed at and envied the outbursts from these characters saying and doing things we all want to sometimes but usually don't, enjoyed getting to know this family. I didn't want this glimpse into their lives to end, so I read more slowly the closer I got to the end of the book. The main character (story told from his perspective) is likeable and I found myself relating to the way he'd take one little thought and spin it into a decades long "what if," something I do often. I could have dealt without him describing every single woman he passes in graphic sexual detail. I get that men do it, but geez. He is fresh out of his marriage (still has one foot in, actually) and is suddenly turned on by every single woman he sees at any given moment. Is that really what it's like to be inside a man's brain?!? In that respect, he had me thankful that I can't read minds. Even with all of that, I still enjoyed the story and am looking forward to seeing the movie.
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on October 12, 2014
There have been a number of novels featuring family members or friends who are called back together by a family emergency or a family celebration such as a wedding. We all have siblings, we all have friends and we have most likely participated in more than one awkward reunion. Parental tragedies involve especially fraught moments and not all parents deserve our allegiance. August: Osage County by Tracy Letts gives us a recent example but This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper involves relationships nowhere near as toxic as we saw in that other famous tale.

In this case a family comes home for their Dad’s funeral. Judd is the narrator, which immediately makes this novel unique. Rarely do we learn about these complicated family moments from a male voice. Judd recently made a discovery that his wife was sleeping with his boss, so he is clearly not in a very good mood.

Mom tells these sibs that it was their father’s last wish that they all sit shiva for 7 days and also participate in saying Kaddish at a temple service. Along with Judd, we get sister, Wendy, her husband Barry and their 3 children (Ryan, Cole, Serena), brother Paul with wife Alice, and brother Phillip and his new fiancé Tracy.

As these guys sit for 7 days in low, low shiva chairs facing daily influxes of mourners, an awful lot happens to and among these siblings (and sometimes in front of mourners). I love that aspect of this novel. It is very real and recognizable.

I have more trouble with the ways that Judd talks about women as he suddenly imagines that he is a free male once again. If even a seemingly good guy sees women like this we might be in trouble, although Judd knows not to act on his fantasies. Perhaps this is just what comes with a male narrator. When Judd’s soon-to-be ex-wife shows up at shiva one day to tell Judd that she is pregnant (which he already knew) and that the baby is his (which he did not know) Judd shares with us the difficulties he has processing this.

This is a fast read and it was appealing enough to keep me reading. I guess I am trying to figure out what the movie is like given all the hormonally and emotionally-charged sexual events going on behind the scenes as this family sits shiva. The juxtaposition of these two unlikely topics does provide some fun moments – in often weird ways – and occasional moments that are much more touching. What will Judd do? I don’t dare tell you.
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on October 20, 2014
"This Is Where I Leave You" by Jonathan Tropper is a melancholy, sometimes humorous look at family angst and dysfunction. Judd Foxmann's father has died after a lengthy illness and his mother has gathered the family together to sit Shiva. The siblings are all equally bewildered by this last request from their non-religious father. The Foxmann's have not been together as a family for quite some time and now they will be forced to sit together in the same room for seven straight days.

Judd, the narrator, has recently caught his wife in bed with his boss and is in the midst of divorce. He's been living a lonely existence in the basement of an elderly Asian couple's home. Wendy, his sister, has three young children and a husband more concerned with making money than family time. Paul, the older brother, whose one time shot at the big leagues was shot down in tragedy, is still angry with Judd for the incident. His wife, meanwhile, is desperately trying to conceive. The youngest brother, Phillip, the somewhat loveable black sheep of the family is trying to have an adult relationship with an older woman.

The story follows the family interactions over the course of the seven days. The various dynamics between the family members, their significant others and the guests that pay their respects leads to often hilarious scenarios and occasionally enlightenment. Judd's search for a way to live in this new world he's found himself in and to create a tenable future makes for a somewhat sad, yet amusing journey.

Tropper has given Judd a very unique narrative style which really works with the flow of the story. I quite liked the novel, although I will say I was expecting it to be funnier. There were moments of hilarity but it was overall sadder than anticipated.
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