Around Christmas time, Kobo released the best books they read in 2013. One of the videos talked about Jonathan Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You. I wrote it down to look into, and found that it was being made into a movie with Jason Bateman and Tina Fey. When I went on my usual Christmas trip to the bookstore near my parents house, I bought it. It has sat on my shelves since Christmas until the release of the trailer a few weeks back. I was in love.
Sometimes watching a movie trailer for a book you haven’t read is a death sentence for your imagination, but in all honesty, this movie was exquisitely cast and who doesn’t want to picture Jane Fonda, Adam Driver, Jason Bateman, Corey Stoll and Tina Fey as the dysfunctional but lovable Foxman family (the name was changed in the film – see here for reasons!) Before starting the book, I had gone through almost two months of not really enjoying my current reads, and This is Where I Leave You pushed me back into my groove. It was absolutely wonderful.
The story centres around Judd Foxman, who has sunken into a depression when he discovers his wife in bed with his boss, only to then receive a phone call from his sister that their father has passed away. The Foxman family had a quirky upbringing with a psychologist mother famous for her enthusiasm about sexuality and raising a family. As adults, the siblings go their own way and are shocked to hear that their father’s final dying wish was that his family (non-practising Jews) sit Shiva for him, a tradition in which the family stays under the same roof for seven days and nights to mourn the loss of their loved one. And so they all come home.
I loved every single character in this book, from the hilarious youngest brother, Philip, who says the best one liners, to the rabbi, Charles, who leads the family through Shiva (and who also happens to be the boys old childhood friend affectionately named Boner for his teenage obsession with porn). Their flaws, hilarious banter and moments of tremendous heart are perfection. I laughed out loud plenty of times, felt my heart swell in my chest, and sat smiling stupidly to myself on the streetcar.
Not only is this book a new favourite, I am also determined to read my way through Tropper’s backlist. I can’t remember where I heard it, but someone once told me he was the king of “manlit” – chicklit for guys, and I agree wholeheartedly. This book had a fantastic balance of heart and hilarity. I’ve heard many people remark on how sexual Judd was, but you must keep in mind that he was recently cuckolded and his manhood questioned, so by god, if the guy wants to daydream his way through the hills of sexual fantasies, let him! I found the jokes spot on and the feelings so acutely described that Judd felt like a real person to me – they all did!
I will leave you with this raving review while I go read through Tropper’s backlist and eagerly wait whatever he writes next! And also, the trailer, which makes me smile and tear up every time. Perhaps my favourite trailer of all time.