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Judd comes back home with a birthday cake to surprise his wife Jen. And instead is surprised to see her , in their marital bed, indulging in hot sex with his crude jock boss. Not only does he lose his wife, but also the charming social life and ‘friends’ that he had created for himself in that suburb.
To top it , his father dies, and the dysfunctional family is reluctantly forced to sit shiva for the departed soul. Seven days and seven nights, and a lifetime of broken dreams, betrayals and grudges soon spin the week out of control. And Jen breaks the news to Judd that she is pregnant and the child is definitely his because her lover is sterile.
This is Where I Leave You is a lot about ‘What if’s?’ and ‘What might have beens?’ Individually, and collectively that’s what the Foxman family seems to deal with . If Paul’s baseball career had not ended because of an injury, if Wendy’s love had not gone soft in the head or if the baby had not died in the womb. Predictably, the family members manage to re-connect with each other at the end of the shiva and find some answers to their problems. And remind us that eventually it is our family, in its own dysfunctional way that helps us discover ourselves and our truth.
Jonathan Tropper deftly weaves a common enough narrative with wit and humour – sometimes crude, sometimes masking the raw pain, and even absurd in places. The characters are ruthless in exposing each others flaws and insecurities. Yet, through it all, you grow to empathize with them, and love them with all their flaws.
Allow yourself to feel bad, angry and hopeful for each of these characters. And indulge yourself by laughing out loud at many points in the book!
A must read – especially before the movie releases – because Jonathan is such a master storyteller.
This is Where I Leave You
352 pages , Published by Plume
Available as ebook and print at Amazon and other online stores, and in print at bookstores.