This Is Where I Leave You

Jonathan Tropper, Author . Dutton $25.95 (339p) ISBN 978-0-525-95127-8

Tropper returns with a snappy and heartfelt family drama/belated coming-of-age story. Judd Foxman’s wife, Jen, has left him for his boss, a Howard Stern–like radio personality, but it is the death of his father and the week of sitting shivah with his enjoyably dysfunctional family that motivates him. Jen’s announcement of her pregnancy—doubly tragic because of a previous miscarriage—is followed by the dramas of Judd’s siblings: his sister, Wendy, is stuck in an emotionless marriage; brother Paul—always Judd’s defender—and his wife struggle with infertility; and the charming youngest, Phillip, attempts a grown-up relationship that only highlights his rakishness. Presided over by their mother, a celebrated parenting expert despite her children’s difficulties, the mourning period brings each of the family members to unexpected epiphanies about their own lives and each other. The family’s interactions are sharp, raw and often laugh-out-loud funny, and Judd’s narration is unflinching, occasionally lewd and very keen. Tropper strikes an excellent balance between the family history and its present-day fallout, proving his ability to create touchingly human characters and a deliciously page-turning story. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 05/18/2009
Release date: 08/01/2009
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