Sunday, December 15, 2013

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Though it sounds like it will be dark, this book had me laughing out loud.  It was the funniest writing I've read in a long time.  The story is told from the perspective of Judd Foxman whose father has just died and is told that his father's dying wish was to have his wife and four children sit shiva together for the whole 7 days.  So Judd returns home to be with his mother, sister, two brothers and their assorted partners and children.  But he returns home humiliated as his wife has just left him after he's found her in bed with his radio-shock-jock boss.  Apparently they've been having an affair for over a year but he's failed to see the signs.  And to top it all off, as he's packing his car to go to the shiva, his ex, Jen, stuns him with the news that she is pregnant.

We follow Judd to his childhood home where he meets up with his mother - a psychiatrist who has written a best selling book about child rearing, that mentions her children by name, to their humiliation as children and now; his sister Wendy, her three children and her self-absorbed hedge fund husband; his brother Paul who is now married to Judd's first girlfriend and the baby in the family, Phillip who has been a free spirited drug dealer and shows up with a woman 20 years older than him who used to be his life coach.

The interactions between family members who have spent little time together in recent years are funny and sad, but so realistic.  The bit players who wander through the shiva are equally entertaining.  I don't want to give away any of the surprises because this book is really worth reading on your own.

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