*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Title: This is Where I Leave You
Author: Jonathan Tropper
Publication Date: First published Aug. 6, 2010
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family—including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister—have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.
It’s been a long while since a book has made me laugh out loud, so I was pleasantly surprised by Tropper’s novel. This book is full of humour despite the fact that it explores sad and upsetting topics. It’s a book that explores what it means to be family, even if one’s family isn’t picture perfect. Judd is the perfect protagonist. His outlook is often morbid and depressing, but he’s riotously funny and constantly surprising. His family is dysfunctional and when they’re brought together to sit shiva for their deceased father, they are forced to confront long-standing hurts and issues and to contemplate what it means to be a family in a way they haven’t been for a long while.
I felt immediately connected to Judd. He’s a standout protagonist, although he wouldn’t describe himself as such. He’s blunt and hurting, but also healing in his own way. He’s confronting so much of his own life that perhaps he wasn’t before, and in that he’s growing. The characters are all pretty witty and fun, even when their full of anger and resentment. What I really enjoyed about this novel is that they characters were so real and so flawed. They can all be pretty terrible, but in the end, they’re family and they’re there for one another and they’re united in the experience of their father’s death.
My biggest reason for not giving this book 5 stars was the unnecessary over-sexualizing of the writing itself. Judd is facing a bit of a dry spell, and I think the author’s intention was to express Judd’s own sexual frustration through the use of suggestive writing and neat double entendres. But it felt uncomfortably overt sometimes and I do think that Judd’s predicament was accurately portrayed without the hyper-sexualized language. It felt like an attempt at asserting a certain level of masculinity into the text that served more as a distraction than as a tactic to further the plot. There was an essence of needing to convey the experience of the Foxman men, and so much of their story and their identities was wrapped up into their carnal lives, an element than bled into the physical language of the book itself. It wasn’t needed. The story and the characters were enough on their own.
Overall though, I did very much enjoy Tropper’s book. It was a little different from what I’ve been reading lately and it was a great way to kick of my September reads.