This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Story: Judd is a sad sack. He’s been dumped, humiliated, and stripped of employment. Needless to say, he’s at an all-time low—and his father has the gall to make it even worse by dying…and then requesting that his wife and four children all sit shiva. So back to his parents’ house Judd goes, hanging out with his dysfunctional family for a week as he mourns the loss of his father, his wife, and the life he thought he had in the bag.
Writing: This is where Tropper really shines. Despite the depressing subject matter, the book is a quick and witty read, with great comic phrasing and characterization. This is ugly real life in all its hilarious glory, and I’m all over that shizzle.
Yeah, I said shizzle.
Themes: No one gets the life s/he expected. Terrible things happen, people get old and lumpy, and you make the best of what you’ve got. The book really explores the meaning of family relationships—what it is to be a child, a sibling, a spouse, a parent—and all the fine twisted love and torture that lie therein.
Yeah, I said therein.
Best thing about it: Writing!
Worst thing about it: I can’t really say without revealing too much about the plot, but there’s something that happens near the end that I find all too convenient.
Final thoughts: One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a while.