Skip to main content

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper


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.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hell-Heaven by Jhumpa Lahiri (Short Fiction Review)

I first read Jhumpa Lahiri years ago, when her Interpreter of Maladies was making a huge buzz. At the time, I didn't catch any of the buzz, but for some reason, when I saw the book on the shelf at the store I was browsing in, I felt it just might be a decent read. Funnily, I read the entire short story collection without complaining about it, but for some reason, I cannot read any collection anymore without agonizing over its disjoint nature.

I did enjoy Interpreter of Maladies, but I did get bothered by the thread of loneliness and infidelity and distrust that laced through the stories. For that reason, I have been reluctant to read Unaccustomed Earth. However, when I came across Hell-Heaven at the NewYorker - a free short story from her book, I decided to go ahead and read it. I can't resist the pull of stories set in India or featuring Indian characters, and it is that same aspect that hooked me throughout this story.


In Hell-Heaven, the narrator contemplates the relations…

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Maybe that’s what religion is, hurling yourself off a cliff and trusting that something bigger will take care of you and carry you to the right place.
Bernadette Fox has a reputation. While her husband and her daughter Bee love her, there's barely anyone else who share the sentiment. Her neighbor Audrey loves to gossip mean things about her with her close friend, Soo-Lin. The other parents of kids at Bee's school look down on Bernadette because she doesn't involve herself in school affairs. Bernadette herself goes out of her way to avoid company.

And then one day, Bee comes home with an excellent report card and asks for her reward - a family trip to Antarctica. The very plan throws Bernadette into a panic but she has no other option. She hires a virtual assistant, based out of India to take care of all her demands, including getting prescriptions at her local pharmacy, doing her online shopping and taking care of some of the logistics of her trip. (It is ridiculous! Bern…

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (Short Fiction review)

With the Hunger Games hype that engulfed us last week, it was hard to avoid all the discussion of similar works that existed. Of the many titles that I came across, two stood out particularly - a short story called The Lottery and a Japanese novel (and movie) called Battle Royale (which I'm reading right now and just cannot put down). The novel will be fodder for another post, so for now, I just want to rave about the awesomeness that was The Lottery.

In contemporary America, villagers across the country are gathering on the 27th of June (and some a day earlier) for an annual event called the Lottery. Children, women, men, all come to the main square of their village or town, where the lottery master keeps a black box full of paper chips. One of these chips is marked has a special mark on it to identify the winner (the person who draws that chip). Not everyone draws however, but only the head of the family. Husbands are viewed as the head of their families/households, and if the …