Reviewed by Ambrea
After learning of the death of his father, Judd Foxman has reluctantly agreed to sit shiva and mourn his father’s passing, spending seven full days and nights in his childhood home—with the rest of his dysfunctional family. But more than coping with the loss of his distant and enigmatic father, Judd must come to terms with his wife’s infidelity (with his boss) and the deterioration of his marriage, his impending role as a father, and old memories and feelings that can never seem to leave well enough alone.
For Judd and his family, seven days might just last a lifetime.
In This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Trooper presents a seriously compelling and enjoyable novel that’s simultaneously well-written and brilliantly executed. Packed with interesting—and, more frequently, absurd—characters, Trooper fabricates a novel of incredible depth and emotion that kept me glued to the pages.
More importantly, Trooper creates a curiously gripping and hilariously funny narrator for his novel. Judd Foxman manages to weave a compelling story about life and love, divorce, sibling rivalries and family that reveals just how complicated (and, sometimes, constricting) even the strongest bonds can be.
It’s a candid account that delves into the deepest and most searing parts of memory. Judd bares all and tells all in his story, which means his deepest secrets and his most embarrassing moments are put on display for the reader to see—including the moment he walked in to find his boss and his wife together (and subsequently set fire to his boss with a birthday cake). It’s hilarious and shocking, but it’s simply part and parcel of Judd’s past.
As a reader, I liked that Judd was so open and honest about his feelings, about his faults and his insecurities, and, most importantly, about his experiences. He matures as a character, evolving to suit his ever-changing environment, and he develops new characteristics and learns from his mistakes—and I liked that I was a witness to that growth.
On the other hand, while I liked that Judd was candid in recounting his life, I feel like it’s important to mention that his honesty sometimes makes his story difficult to read. I mean, he shares some of the worst moments and most embarrassing moments of his life. He doesn’t spare the reader’s feelings.
Moreover, I should note that his mother is a psychotherapist with little to no discretion when it comes to discussing private matters and she has absolutely no filter. She tells her children exactly how she sees it. As for the rest of the Foxman family, it’s a highly dysfunctional unit. They swear, they drink, they smoke, and they generally manage to make a spectacle in public, Judd included. It’s a bit disorienting and certainly cringe-worthy.