|This is Where I Leave You
4.5 / 5
"'Dad's dead,' Wendy says offhandedly, like it's happened before, like it happens every day."
The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family—including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister—have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.
Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.
As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it’s a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd’s father died: She’s pregnant.
This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper's most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind—whether we like it or not.
I don't know how much more I could add to Amber's comprehensive review of this book, especially without giving things away! She is right - I would definitely classify it as a dark comedy, and a very enjoyable one at that. The Foxman family is a crazy mess, but underneath all of their issues they clearly love each other. They have each others' backs and they are there when someone needs a shoulder to cry on (well...usually). I loved the oddball family and all of its messed up issues. I am really looking forward to the upcoming movie, especially after Amber & I (along with our friend Claire) got to see a panel at BookCon which featured Jonathan Tropper, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, and Shawn Levy (the director). The cast looks really well selected! Even though I felt like Judd (played by Jason Bateman) was younger in the book...but, from the preview clips they showed the audience, it doesn't appear to be a game-changer: Bateman was masterful in the role.
I don't know what else really to write about this book that hasn't already been said. Especially because it is essentially a character study of an entire family, and there isn't much plot aside from the main storyline, wherein Judd must attend his father's funeral shortly after having found his wife in bed with his boss. A nuts but not unimaginable scenario, one which Tropper handles with grace and aplomb - he writes a very true-to-life story. The players are so real, and the situations so tangible. Readers can identify with the family tension and can easily put themselves into the same situation, mentally. However, don't try asking yourself what you'd do in the same situation - because the characters will constantly surprise you!
The ending of the book seemed perfect, though. The decision Judd makes is exactly the right one, I believe.