This Is Where I Leave You (Tropper)

This Is Where I Leave You 
Jonathan Tropper, 2009
Penguin Group USA
352 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780452296367

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.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it's a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd's father died: She's pregnant.

This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper's most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind—whether we like it or not. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio 
Where—Riverdale, New York, USA
Currently—lives in Westchester, New York

Jonathan Tropper is also the author of This is Where I Leave You, How to Talk to a Widower, Everything Changes, and Plan B. He lives with his wife, Elizabeth, and their children in Westchester, New York, where he teaches writing at Manhattanville College.

How To Talk To A Widower, was the 2007 selection for the Richard and Judy Show in the United Kingdom. Everything Changes was a Booksense selection. Three of Tropper's books are currently being adapted into movies. Tropper is also currently working on a television series How to Talk to a Widower which was optioned by Paramount Pictures, and Everything Changes and The Book of Joe are also in development as feature films. (Adapted from the publisher and Wikipedia.)

Book Reviews 
[The] Foxman family gets together to mourn the loss of its partriarch in Jonathan Tropper's smartly comic novel.... In a wry domestic tone nicely akin to Tom Perrotta, Tropper goes on to introduce a darkly entertaining bunch of disfunctional relatives.... Although Mr. Tropper's dialogue here is fast and fresh, his book also has ballast.... Still, this author's strong suit is wisecracks, the more irreverent the better. And he gives snarky allure to Judd's observations.
Janet Maslin - New York Times

Hilarious and often heartbreaking.... [A] novel that charms by allowing for messes, loose ends and the reality that there's only one sure ending for everyone.
Los Angeles Times

Usually when a relationship goes belly-up, the focus is on the emotionally gutted woman, who cries and seethes and grieves her way through the split. Naturally, she rebounds and meets Mr. Right, after learning a few poignant life lessons. How bracing and refreshing to read something from the male perspective.... Tropper gets men. He's a more sincere, insightful version of Nick Hornby, that other master of male psyche.
USA Today

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.
Publishers Weekly

According to Genesis, the earth was created in six days. In the newest work from Tropper, the Foxman family spend a week together and the world practically implodes. Recently separated Judd, his two brothers, his sister, and their mother sit shiva for Foxman patriarch Mort. This seven-day Jewish ritual allows family members to mourn together while friends and relatives come to pay their respects—and have a little nosh. But the Foxman siblings don't get along, despite the best efforts of their celebrity child-care expert mother. As narrator Judd says, "Some families…become toxic to each other after prolonged exposure." Verdict: With its frat-house language and sexual obsessions, this hilarious, testosterone-driven thrill-ride comes with all the weaponry at the Foxmans' disposal: physical blows, verbal darts, psychological barbs, friendly jousts, and loving punches to the solar plexus. And the women have their say as well; there are no neutral corners in this melee. Highly recommended for Tropper fans, who will rejoice at the opportunity to indulge; others will wonder where he's been all their lives.
Bette Lee Fox - Library Journal

Reeling from the sudden collapse of his marriage, Judd Foxman spends an illuminating week with his dysfunctional family. It's bad enough that he walks in on his wife Jen making love to another man in their bed, but the betrayal is doubly devastating when Judd realizes her partner is his boss Wade, a macho talk-radio blowhard. With the image of the two of them likely to be seared permanently onto his retinas, Judd crawls off to a sad basement rental, only to be roused a short time later by the news that his cancer-stricken father has finally died. Judd's pop-psychologist mother Hillary calls her four grown children home to sit shiva for a full seven days, but it's doubtful that her atheist husband would have truly appreciated this nod to Jewish tradition. Unhappy as he is, Judd can take some comfort in the fact that the rest of the Foxmans are just as screwed up. His older brother Paul, once a gifted athlete, still blames Judd for the dog attack that brought his baseball career to a halt. Paul's wife Alice is so eager to get pregnant that she makes Judd an indecent proposal any sensible brother-in-law would refuse. Sister Wendy, married to a self-absorbed jerk, still carries a torch for her childhood sweetheart Horry, who suffered permanent brain injury in a college bar fight. And prodigal youngest Phillip shows up in a Ferrari with his much older life coach/girlfriend Tracy in tow. Thrown into the mix is potential new love interest Penny, who tantalized Judd in high school, and the news that Jen is pregnant with his (not Wade's) baby. All this sets up Judd for a major day of reckoning, and the realization that maybe, just maybe, he has contributed to some of the problems in his life. Tropper (How to Talk to a Widower, 2007, etc.) has covered this man-child territory before, but few can rival his poignant depictions of damaged men befuddled by the women they love. 
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions 
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also consider these LitLovers talking points to help get a discussion started for This Is Where I Leave You:

1. Is the Foxman family really in mourning? How can you tell? As an atheist, why does Mort request that his family sit shiva after his death?

2. What's wrong with these people! Whom do you finger as the most dysfunctional family member, including spouses? Which character do you find...funniest...most despicable...most sympathetic? Be honest, now: any of them you identify with?

3. What has caused the tension between Judd and his brother Paul? What are some of the other family secrets and entanglements?

4. Clearly, Judd is an adult, yet this book can also be seen as a delayed coming-of-age story. What does Judd learn in the end about himself and his role in helping to create the world in which he finds himself?

5. How 'bout that rabbi? Is the Foxman's assessment of him fair?

6. What do the Foxman offspring come to understand about their parents by the book's finale?

7. How does Judd respond to becoming a father, and how does he connect his role as soon-to-be parent with the loss of his own father? In what way does parenthood take on meaning for him?

8. What is the significance of the book's title?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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