Pairing Books with Movies: This is Where I Leave You

Friday, December 13, 2013

This Is Where I Leave You
by Jonathan Tropper

Is it possible to have a book make you laugh out loud and break your heart at the same time? Judd Foxman is about as low as he can get. His wife is having an affair with his boss and his life is completely upside down. At this vulnerable moment he finds out that his father has just died after a long battle with cancer. He returns home to sit Shiva with his mother and siblings for seven days.

There’s something about the way the family members relate to each other that is so recognizable. Even though I can’t relate to the same level of dysfunction, it’s still easy to see your own family in the Foxmans. There’s the baby of the family who gets away with anything, the eldest who takes on the mantle of responsibility but resents the others because of it and then there’s Judd. The tangle mess of their family unit is relatable and also unique, just as every family is. Tolstoy said it best in Anna Karenina,

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

There is a lot of sex in this book. I heard someone describe it as the “dude-lit,” which seems rather appropriate. The emphasis is on the characters more than the sex, so it didn’t bother me, but there was one line in the book about it that made me laugh…

“You need a GPS to follow the sex lives of this family. I wonder if love is this twisted for everyone or if our family is uniquely talented at making such a mess of it.”

BOTTOM LINE: Once you get past the laughs and awkward family situations the book is really about dealing with grief, forgiveness and finally growing up. The message is a good one and the novel is well written. I really enjoyed it the whole time I was reading it and can’t wait to check out more from Tropper.

“We knew marriage could be difficult in the same way we knew there were starving children in Africa. It was a tragic fact but worlds away from our reality.”

“‘Please,’ she says, ‘Tell me what you’re thinking.’ It’s an absurd request. Our minds, unedited by guilt or shame, are selfish and unkind, and the majority of our thoughts, at any given time, are not for public consumption, because they would either be hurtful or else just make us look like the selfish and unkind bastards we are.”

Pair with the TV show Arrested Development. Nothing quite matches the hilarious family dysfunction of the Bluths. The first two seasons are particularly great. 


Sandy Nawrot said...

I loved this book! That scene at the beginning when he catches his wife with her lover, and the lit birthday candles...OMG I almost wet my pants. You are so right - this book makes me laugh out loud and cry. I heard it was being made into a movie...

JoAnn said...

I loved that one, too… the funniest book I've read in years!!

Greg Zimmerman said...

Great call on pairing with Arrested Development. That's a whole lotta zany!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Sandy - I read the whole thing while visiting family out of town and that gave it an interesting added depth since the whole thing is about staying with family.

JoAnn - I couldn't stop laughing in some parts.

Greg - I know, it makes you appreciate your family.

Unknown said...

I absolutely loved this book! It was so funny in some parts, sad in others and such a great read. The mother was great and made me laugh. I thought the characters were great and the closeness of some of the siblings. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book!

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Amy - That mother was a card! It really was a great book.

Jeanne said...

I might have to try this book. I didn't like Arrested Development much until my kids pointed out that I wasn't actually supposed to sympathize with any of the characters.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Jeanne - I loved Arrested Development, but I would absolutely not want to be part of that family!

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