This is Where I Leave You

Originally published June 2014

The book was on my shelf for more than a year.

I already knew I liked Jonathan Tropper—his latest read, “One Last Thing Before I Go” was heartbreaking and funny and had a maddening ending. I’m not sure what was taking me so long to get around to “This is Where I Leave You.” And then I caught the trailer for the movie, coming this fall:

I kind of adore Jason Bateman. And Tina Fey is the shit. So I will be seeing this movie. Finally. Motivation. And of course, the book was fantastic.

Family drama is my thang—The Corrections, The Family Fang, anything Tom Perrotta … the dissection of the family dynamic never fails to entertain on a fictional level. Tropper does a wonderful job mixing the genuine with the sarcastic, to make, in this case, The Foxmans, a very real family.

Narrated by son Judd, the family comes together under one roof to sit shiva for their recently departed dad, Mort. Mom Hillary, daughter Wendy, and sons Judd, Paul and Phillip. Each has issues. Mom is a world famous child advice dispenser, Wendy is married to emotionally absent husband Barry and has three kids that I’m sure she loves but is most likely burnt out on, Paul is married to Alice, who reallyreallyreally wants a baby, Phillip is a serial fuckup and is currently “in love” with his life coach, a 40-something Tracy. And then there’s Judd—who is in the throes of his own life crisis, a philandering wife with her lover, who happens to be Judd’s shock jock boss.

There’s an equally impressive cast of supporting characters too, from neighbor Linda and son Horry, to Judd’s high school paramour, Penny Moore. Together, the crew is engaging and insulting, endearing and aggravating. From pregnancy fails to accidental babies, family business to joblessness, lost love to unrequited love, there aren’t very many pages in between crisis and comedy.

As with any family in real life, perspectives are skewed depending on who’s telling the tale, and while Judd is convinced the world pretty much has dealt him a sucker hand, a week with his family proves to be eye-opening in so many ways. Highly recommended, and most definitely a quick read if you’re looking for good beach book.

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