This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 6th 2009 by Orion
When the head of the Foxman family dies, his last wish is that his family gather together at home and observe the Jewish tradition of sitting shiva. Stuck together in their childhood home for seven days, each member of the Foxman tribe carries their baggage along with them. But no one knows you like family, and blood is thicker than water.
A dark comedy about family, grief, love, and what holds us together, This is Where I Leave You is a funny but astutely poignant tale of a dysfunctional family, each eccentric member seeking happiness, and none of them managing to achieve it.
Tropper’s writing is elegant and precise, beautiful in his observations and descriptions. Although it wasn’t always my cup of tea, on the whole I enjoyed this novel—especially the writing. Tropper is a master of the simile, each one more clever than the last. Here’s one of my favourites:
We knew marriage could be difficult in the same way that we knew there were starving children in Africa. It was a tragic fact but worlds away from our reality.
Although I appreciated Tropper’s writing and insight, the storyline often left me feeling hollow. Ultimately it ends happily (sort of), but I couldn’t fully enjoy it because I see things differently. I guess I’m just more optimistic! And Tropper doesn’t sugar coat anything:
That’s the problem with college kids. I blame Hollywood for skewing their perspective. Life is just a big romantic comedy to them, and if you meet-cute, happily-ever-after is a forgone conclusion.
I’m looking forward to what the likes of Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, and Adam Driver can bring to the story on the big screen. I have faith that they will do Tropper and the hilarious Foxmans (changed to Altmans) justice!
Beth is the founder and editor of Fuelled by Fiction. She is a twenty-something east coast Canadian girl who loves writing about books and feminism.