By 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.