This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


This is Where I Leave You
We all start out so damn sure, thinking we've got the world on a string. If we ever stopped to think about the infinite number of ways we could be undone, we'd never leave our bedrooms.

When Judd Foxman's father dies, his entire family arrives at his childhood home to sit shiva for seven days. It's been years since this family has been together and it is immediately obvious that they cannot really stand each other. Newly separated from his wife, Jen, after finding her in bed with his boss, Judd arrives alone, aware that he is currently the talk of the neighborhood. As he tries to put his life in order, it is thrown into shambles again when Jen comes announcing that she is pregnant. With his baby. A baby they've been waiting for forever.

Eldest brother, Paul, and his wife, Alice, have been trying to have a baby for years - a fact that Alice doesn't let Judd forget seeing as Jen has managed to get pregnant twice. His younger brother, Phillip, who has not managed to hold down a relationship, has brought home his new girlfriend, Tracy, who was his therapist, appearing to be completely in love with her. Wendy, Judd's sister, is married with two kids and by far, seems to be the most logical voice in the house. As this huge family comes together to mourn their father and start warring right from day one, it doesn't appear as if they can last seven days in each others' company.

I watched this movie before reading the book. I don't often do that. But I loved the movie - it's hard not to like Jason Bateman and Tina Fey, so I got the audiobook at Audible and dove right in.

This was a great audiobook to listen to. Judd made for a nice narrator to spend my daily commutes with. His discovery of his wife sleeping with his boss in their bed should have been a traumatic listen, and I did feel sorry for him. But it was hard not to laugh at the imagery he painted. Among his siblings, he felt closest to Wendy.

There are a great many characters who pass through the book as the Foxman family sits shiva. The rabbi, a childhood friend of the Foxman siblings has a colorful past - something that feels inappropriate for a rabbi - a past that the siblings do not hesitate to recall in public. There is an old man who is hoping to get Judd's mother interested in him. Linda Callen, their neighbor, is around at their house so often that it raises some eyebrows.

This is Where I Leave You was an interesting story of family dynamics. The experiences of this family may not be typical of most families but their relationships probably are. I'm a big fan of books set over a very short time period - in this case, seven days may seem to be a really small timeframe to have any impact on years-old relationships. But when the siblings part at the end of the book, there is a nice sense of understanding between them that wasn't present earlier. Obviously, that's not a spoiler since we all knew that's how this book would end. For me, the entertaining aspect was everything in between.


This audiobook is from my personal library.