3 out of 5: In Jonathan Tropper’s latest novel, Judd Foxman is called back to his family home to satisfy his father’s dying wish that his family sit shiva for seven days. At first, the dysfunctional Foxman family is so caught up in their own troubles they’re barely able to mourn their dead father. Tropper’s clever, quick-paced prose nicely complements the Foxmans’ distracted self-absorption:
We are thinking about our kids, our lack of kids, about finances and fiancées and soon-to-be ex-wives, about the sex we’re not having, the sex our soon-to-be ex-wives are having, about loneliness and love and death and Dad, and this constant crowd is like a fog on a dark road; you just keep driving and watch it disperse in your low beams.As the allotted days pass (and as the Foxman family spends more time together than they have in years), they begin to forget old grudges and to grow closer as a family.
This is Where I Leave You is both a hilarious reunion escapade and a sobering examination of death and the meaning of family. Tropper’s comic scenes succeed brilliantly, but his more serious passages are less successful and often superficial, leaving the weightier issues unexplored. This Is Where I Leave You will definitely leave you laughing, but don’t expect too much depth.