This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Bibliographic Citation:
Tropper, Jonathan. (2009) This is Where I Leave You. New York, NY: Plume. ISBN 978-0452296367.

(Image from Amazon.com)

(Image from Amazon.com)

Plot Summary
This is Where I Leave You follows The Foxman family during a particularly rough time for all of them. The main character, Judd Foxman, has just discovered that his wife has been having a year long affair with his boss, Wade. Shortly after Judd witnesses his wife’s betrayal firsthand, his father, Mort Foxman, passes away. To honor his father’s last wishes Judd, his mother, and his three siblings, Paul, Wendy and Phillip, are forced to sit shiva in their childhood home. Their dysfunction is painful and hilarious.

Critical Analysis:
This is Where I Leave You might be the best book I’ve ever read. (Have I been throwing that phrase around too much lately? I don’t think so. I think I just keep stumbling upon some bomb-a books lately.) No joke. Judd Foxman — which I mistakenly read as Jude the whole novel — is so normal and lifelike (maybe not the right word?) you forget that he’s a character in a novel and not your buddy just going through a hard time.

The book spans just a week but you cover so much ground that it feels longer, in a good way. You get up close and personal with each Foxman. You live and breathe Foxman. You grieve with them. You’re embarrassed with and sometimes for them. You love with them and laugh with them. When Phillip punches Wade at the hospital your fist hurts too because you had been wanting to deck that jerk the whole time. This family is so real and personable. It moves you. I wasn’t ready for This is Where I Leave You to leave me.

When the book ends there isn’t any closure for Judd. I’m often a person who hates when stories let you fill in the blanks and draw your own conclusions based off of dots that may or may not have actually connected. This isn’t one of those times. This was just open enough. It leaves you with a sense of hope. Do Judd and Jen reconcile? Does Alice get pregnant? How does Phillip and Paul’s work relationship pan out? You don’t know, but that’s okay.

This is Where I Leave You is just good writing. It is a good story about good people going through a bad time. Sometimes the characters surprise you and sometimes they’re predictable. All in all they’re perfect. The Foxmans are like the literary equivalent of The Bluth family but with less money and felony offenses. Thank you Jonathan Tropper for giving the world The Foxman family. Be sure to watch the movie when it comes out in September! Did I mention that Judd is played by Jason Bateman? Yep, Michael Bluth is Judd Foxman.

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