This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

this-is-where-i-leave-youBy now you have undoubtedly seen the movie trailers for Jason Bateman and Tina Fey’s latest movie, This Is Where I Leave You. Looks good, doesn’t it? But do not do the unforgivable and see the movie before reading the novel upon which it is based. Jonathan Tropper‘s novel is great. It’s funny in all the right places and reads pretty much like a movie, so it’s quick. It’s no surprise that we can now enjoy it in its celluloid form.

This Is Where I Leave You is a book I place firmly in a genre I love – family’s home for the holidays. You know exactly the kind of book or movie I’m talking about. I’ve been a sucker for them for years. In this novel the highly dysfunctional (really, is there any other kind?) Foxman family is reunited after their father’s death. His dying request was that they sit shiva for him. For the non-Jews in the crowd, that means that they are trapped together for seven days. Of course, too many family secrets come out in this time, and that’s what makes the book so great.

After reading This is Where I Leave You, I did a little search on Tropper. It turns out he is 2 years older than me. I could have guessed that. All the cultural references are so perfect for someone my age. You can tell he and I were listening to the same music and watching the same TV shows growing up.

The downfall of the book for me is the amount of casual violence. Maybe I just come from a peace loving family, but bequeathing each other  with left hooks over Thanksgiving doesn’t happen. Of course, that is just one of the things that makes this novel read like a movie. The Foxman boys take repeated beatings from each other, jilted lovers, and anyone else who is close enough to throw a punch.

And can someone help me out with Judd’s recurring one-legged dreams?

Who would like this book? This Is Where I Leave You is the perfect book for someone stuck in the forty-somethings of their life. Even if you don’t come from a dysfunctional family, and the mere idea that you think you might shows just how delusional you are, this book is about us – our hopes and dreams, our parents and kids and our fuck-ups. It is not a heavy read, but it is an enjoyable one. I’m making my husband read on vacation next week.


  1. This book sounds like one I would like, but I have to admit that I’m tempted to just watch the movie, since it sounds so well suited to one. Of course, I’m sure the book is still better, but it would save me a little time. Have you seen the movie?

  2. The movie has such a great cast, I became very curious about the book. I didn’t know about the casual violence, but I wondered if it was just going to be another book about a dysfunctional family or if there was something unique about it.

  3. I didn’t realise there was a movie for this one – I’ll have to watch it when it comes out! I enjoyed reading it, but I’m a little bit younger than you so I think many of the cultural references went over my head. Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. I really need to get my hands on a copy of this, it sounds like just the sort of thing I’d love. Seriously though, do casual left hooks happen at other people’s Thanksgiving dinners? I mean, sure sometimes things get awkward and occasionally shouty. Once in a while someone ends up crying. But nobody ever gets punched.

  5. I LOVED this book so much – it was such a cinematic read and I can’t tell you how loud I laughed when I read the opening scene with the cake and the candles. HILARIOUS! Don’t you think they did a great job casting the film? Each character was spot on.

  6. Glad you enjoyed the book! I read this book a few months ago and enjoyed it myself; it came into my radar after seeing the trailer to the recent movie adaptation. I have a soft spot for dysfunctional family stories as well, so the minute I read the premise to this book, I knew it was going to be a ride xD Great review!

  7. I’ve enjoyed all the Tropper books I’ve read so far, although they are pretty similar. I think this one wasn’t my favorite but I like his style of modern drama/comedy. I always think his books would make perfect movies, but I’m not too excited about this one — maybe because it’s a book about a Jewish family sitting shiva and no one in the cast looks remotely Jewish except Adam Driver. Is it weird that that bothers me?

  8. Pingback: Instructions For a Heatwave by Maggie O’Farrell | 52 books or bust

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