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This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel Paperback – July 6, 2010
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Praise for This Is Where I Leave You
“In a wry domestic tone nicely akin to Tom Perotta’s, Mr. Tropper...introduces a darkly entertaining bunch of dysfunctional relatives....This author’s strong suit is wisecracks, the more irreverent the better.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“Hilarious and often heartbreaking...a novel that charms by allowing for messes, loose ends and the reality that there's only one sure ending for everyone.”—The Los Angeles Times
“[A] magnificently funny family saga....Read and weep with laughter. Grade: A”—Entertainment Weekly
“The novel is artful and brilliant, filled with colorful narratives and witty dialogue....[Tropper] can find the funny in any situation.”—Associated Press
“Tender and unexpectedly hilarious.”—People.com
About the Author
Jonathan Tropper is the New York Times bestselling author of One Last Thing Before I Go, How to Talk to a Widower, Everything Changes, The Book of Joe, and Plan B. He lives with his family in Westchester, New York, where he teaches writing at Manhattanville College. He adapted This Is Where I Leave You as a feature film for Warner Brothers Studios was a screenwriter, co-creator, and executive producer of the HBO/Cinemax television show Banshee (produced by Alan Ball).
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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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Enjoyed front to back!!!!