I got this book because I’ve been hearing a lot about author Jonathan Tropper. He lives in the same town I do, and I know a number of people who have read and enjoyed his books. I was told that he very often uses fictionalized versions of local people and places in his work, so I thought I might find this interesting and enjoyable.
This is Where I Leave You tells the story of the dysfunctional Foxman family. The family patriarch has just died, and his widow has told her four children that their father’s dying wish was for the family to sit Shiva for him for seven full days, as is traditional in Judaism.
Unfortunately, the adult children have not spent much time together in recent years, and there are many unresolved issues between them, and with their parents. As the Foxman clan (including spouses, a girlfriend, and children) crowd into the family home, old resentments and grudges arise. And as their friends, neighbors and relatives visit to mourn with them, things become more complicated.
The story is narrated by Judd Foxman, the third oldest child. His father’s death comes as his own marriage is falling apart, and he has lost his job. He is hopeless about his future; he is also judgmental of his mother, his siblings, and the choices they have made.
This is Where I Leave You is a decent, coherent, and fairly well-written book. Unfortunately I find that the characters are shallow and predictable. The male characters are condescending to women, and have no sense of personal boundaries. The judgments made about women are extremely harsh, with all sorts of boorish behavior by the grown men excused because of their previous difficulties.
I am particularly appalled by the sweeping generalities the author makes about women. When he wants to denigrate the women that one of the Foxman brothers dates, he says they are either waitresses, hairdressers, or actresses, and implies that he should date a higher class of women. And what makes Tropper so great that he is better than a waitress? Well-so maybe this is really a book for guys. I certainly won’t be reading any more of Tropper’s books!
Published in hardcover-Dutton Adult-2009
Softcover edition-Plune 2010