Published in 2009, “This is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper is a novel about the life of Judd Foxman — a man who is left unemployed after his wife cheats on him with his boss. As if that wasn’t enough of a disaster, his sister contacts him after many years of silence to tell him that his father died.
Forced to come back home to visit his family who he hasn’t spoken to in years, he soon learns that his father’s dying wish was for him, his mother and siblings to sit Shiva — the Jewish tradition in which immediate family members live under the same roof for seven days to remember the loved one they have lost.
First there is Paul, Judd’s older brother, who resents Judd for an accident that ended his baseball career and for taking his wife’s virginity. Paul and his wife, Alice, are trying for a baby and that causes animosity in their marriage. Next is Wendy, a rich and boring housewife, who is barely getting any attention from her husband. The baby of the family, Philip, is a total mess. His tendency to frequently sleep around has caused him to have an unstable relationship with his family and the worst part is that he started dating his therapist.
The matriarch of the family, Hillary, wrote a best-selling book on parenting 20 years prior that promoted open relationships with kids. Since then, she over-shared her sex life, with hopes to help improve her children’s sex and masturbation techniques. Clearly, this family has many unresolved issues.
It’s surprising how much one can really relate to theses characters, regardless of the age difference. Each character is dealing with a crossroad and often, you will think to yourself, “what would I do in this situation?” When Jen comes to Judd’s father’s funeral to tell him that her baby, who he thought was not his, is actually his, Judd isn’t sure whether or not he wants to take care of it. Even though such situations aren’t ones that many would find themselves in, it’s difficult not to think of what one would do.
While reading, you will often find yourself taking sides or having internal arguments with the characters. Though “This is Where I Leave You” deals with very heavy issues, there is still a lot of humor — with jokes that you will actually make you laugh out loud. It proves that even in the worst scenarios, you can find something funny to hold onto. The book has about 300 pages and reading it is worth every minute. I’ll tell you this: Tropper will make you re-evaluate how you view life.