This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper, follows the story of Judd Foxman and his family as they gather to sit shiva for their father who has recently passed away. And that being said, here’s what I thought:
Why I liked it:
-I could identify Judd and his moments of hopeful daydreaming about women he sees randomly out and about and his other moments where he lets the reality of his situation (his wife left him for his boss) crush him and his positive, hopeful moments. This is not as extreme as it sounds, but Tropper does a good job of highlighting the duality of men and, well, people in general, and how they deal with emotional situations (not in a bi-polar way).I will talk about this, or something related to it, in another post.
-I found the characters well developed in a way where I will miss having them as a part of my life. I believe I’ve talked about this before. I know I like a book when I think about having finished it and realizing, “hey, I’m going to miss these people and their crazy, f*cked up lives”. Also, they were well developed in the “well developed” way, i.e: you can picture them, you know people like them, you understand why they act the way they act and are the way they are.
-Without giving too much away, Tropper goes overboard when he needs to with respect to Jen’s (Judd’s wife’s) infidelity. When I was reading this part I loved it because it was hilarious, but I found myself asking, ahem, myself, “is all this detail necessary?”. It was and is, because that’s who Judd is and Judd is telling us his and the story.
-Tropper stayed away, or at least an arm’s length, from too many cliches. While there are your expected ones that come with any story of a family returning to their hometown for a funeral, Tropper twisted them enough so that he kept me guessing until the end as to how things were going to turn out.
What I “didn’t” like:
-Again, without giving too much away, the end is somewhat of a sticking point for me. I liked it but I think it it could have been better. It doesn’t end abruptly, but I felt Tropper could have gone further. The perfect contrast is David Nicholls’, One Day, where I felt he added maybe one too many chapters at the end. But, both still ended and well enough that I enjoyed them.
-Tropper stayed away, or at least an arm’s length, from too many cliches. I know I wrote the exact same thing in the “like” part, but come one, everyone likes a little cliche here and there. Or maybe not, but I do, so whatever.