This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel
by Jonathan Tropper
Fiction (Released August, 2009)
Bottom Line: Read it.
The Foxman family gathers upon the death of their father to sit Shiva for seven days.
This book will always hold a special place in my heart because I was reading it while I was in labor with my daughter. I think it takes just the right book to get you through those pre-epidural labor hours (and, in my case, the hour right before pushing when the epidural more or less wears off on one side!!)…something light, funny, and easy to read in small snippets. This Is Where I Leave You was all these things and more.
For those of you that read my review of Seating Arrangements, This Is Where I Leave You is similar (both are centered around family gatherings that result in awkward, but funny situations), but funnier, faster moving, and way less WASPy. It’s somewhat of a tragicomedy with most of the tragedy cloaked in humor….so I would not classify it as a sad book at all. I laughed most of the way through it, even though the situations the family members were in would definitely be considered “sad” (think divorce, infidelity, death of a family member, infertility).
Tropper’s portrayal of the process of mourning a deceased family member was also spot on…he captured the awkwardness of acquaintances trying to be nice, but coming across as totally inappropriate or acting like they’re closer to the family than they really are, and of forcing politeness in a cocktail party-esque atmosphere while you’re grieving.
Finally, the characters in this book are lovably eccentric and very witty…the mother who is obsessed with her looks amid her husband’s Shiva, the spoiled youngest brother, and the witty and biting sister…just to name a few.
This Is Where I Leave You is a great pick if you’re looking for something light and funny.