This is Where I Leave You is the kind of book that makes me want to write a novel â€“ I loved it. Jonathan Tropper\’s writing flows with such ease, the story is touching, funny, tender and realistic. Many novels I\’ve read recently have had female protagonists so it was refreshing to hear about life from a man\’s perspective. And Jonathan Tropper throws in some pretty hilarious perspectives.
Judd Foxman is the main character and he takes us through a week of his life as he sits shiva (a seven-day shared mourning period) with his family following the death of his father. Judd is a sincere, sensitive and kind 30-something guy who is dealing with the loss of his father to cancer. Judd is also fresh from a dramatic split with his wife of nine years. In the tragicomedy that is his life, his marriage ends when he walks in on her in bed with his boss (in Judd & Jen\’s own bedroom). With a birthday cake. It is no wonder poor Judd is haunted daily by the details of his marriage breakdown.
On top of these unforgettable images, spending seven days with his emotionally stunted family â€“ two sisters, two brothers, their partners & kids, and his mother â€“ is torturous at best. The ultimate in family drama. When the family members are not sitting shiva, they are dealing with infertility, old lovers and new lovers, lost & regained opportunities, vicious dogs, sexual orientation, fidelity, fist fights, head injuries, along with some other weird and funny stuff. Â When Judd\’s wife comes by with news that blindsides the already confounded Judd, it just keeps rolling.
The funeral setting serves to unite people with history, mutual experiences and a shared past.Â A family reunion under sad circumstances. This provides for Judd and his non-communicative family endless (and reluctant) opportunities to spend time together. Much to their dismay, they are forced to talk with one another. As result however, they experience shining moments of true sharing. A lifetime of quietly managed problems and secrets emerge and are, if not resolved, at least diffused.
So as we move through the seven days, Judd visits people from his past. He watches his siblings do the same kind of thing â€“ essentially revisiting themselves. In some small way, they learn something about who they have become.
This is Where I Leave You is rich with character – Judd is so real I feel like I know him and his family. The author truly brings the Foxman\’s to life. It is laugh-out-loud funny and sad-enough-to-make-you-cry. When you start this book, you enter the Foxman\’s home for a week. When you turn the last page, you\’ll be reluctant to leave.
Available now: Hachette RRP$59.95