This Is Where I Leave You: A Novel

( 350 )

Overview

Now a major motion picture starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey Jane Fonda, and Adam Driver

"Often sidesplitting, mostly heartbreaking...[Tropper is] a more sincere, insightful version of Nick Hornby, that other master of male psyche." —USA Today

The death of Judd Foxman's father marks the first time that the entire Foxman clan has congregated in years. There is, however, one conspicuous absence: Judd's wife, Jen, whose affair with his radio- ...

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Overview

Now a major motion picture starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey Jane Fonda, and Adam Driver

"Often sidesplitting, mostly heartbreaking...[Tropper is] a more sincere, insightful version of Nick Hornby, that other master of male psyche." —USA Today

The death of Judd Foxman's father marks the first time that the entire Foxman clan has congregated in years. There is, however, one conspicuous absence: Judd's wife, Jen, whose affair with his radio- shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public. Simultaneously mourning the demise of his father and his marriage, Judd joins his dysfunctional family as they reluctantly sit shiva-and spend seven days and nights under the same roof. The week quickly spins out of control as longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed and old passions are reawakened. Then Jen delivers the clincher: she's pregnant.

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

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  • This Is Where I Leave You
    This Is Where I Leave You  

Editorial Reviews

Carolyn See
…hilarious…The Foxman brothers must become men, though, God knows, they don't want to. They want to remain hard-punching, dope-smoking, lighthearted pranksters, but life won't stand for that. Forgiveness, compassion and compromise are all in the cards for them now that their dad has died. This is a beautiful novel about men—their lust and rage and sweetness. Read it—or take it as a gift—when you next go on a dreaded family holiday.
—The Washington Post
Janet Maslin
…[a] smartly comic novel …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.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

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.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

USA Today
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.
Library Journal

According to Genesis, the earth was created in six days. In the newest work from Tropper (How To Talk to a Widower), 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


—Bette-Lee Fox
Kirkus Reviews
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780452296367
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 7/6/2010
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 733
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Tropper

Jonathan Tropper is the author of One Last Thing Before I Go, How to Talk to a Widower, Everything Changes, The Book of Joe, and Plan B. He lives with his family in Westchester, New York, where he teaches writing at Manhattanville College. He is currently adapting This Is Where I Leave You as a feature film for Warner Brothers Studios and is a screenwriter, co-creator, and executive producer of the HBO/Cinemax television show Banshee (produced by alan Ball), premiering in 2013. 

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Dad’s dead,” Wendy says off handedly, like it’s happened before, like it happens every day. It can be grating, this act of hers, to be utterly unfazed at all times, even in the face of tragedy. “He died two hours ago.”

“How’s Mom doing?”

“She’s Mom, you know? She wanted to know how much to tip the coroner.”

I have to smile, even as I chafe, as always, at our family’s patented inability to express emotion during watershed events. There is no occasion calling for sincerity that the Foxman family won’t quickly diminish or pervert through our own genetically engineered brand of irony and evasion. We banter, quip, and insult our way through birthdays, holidays, weddings, illnesses. Now Dad is dead and Wendy is cracking wise.

It serves him right, since he was something of a pioneer at the forefront of emotional repression.

“It gets better,” Wendy says.

“Better? Jesus, Wendy, do you hear yourself?”

“Okay, that came out wrong.”

“You think?”

“He asked us to sit shiva.”

“Who did?”

“Who are we talking about? Dad! Dad wanted us to sit shiva.”

“Dad’s dead.”

Wendy sighs, like it’s positively exhausting having to navigate the dense forest of my obtuseness. “Yes, apparently, that’s the optimal time to do it.”

“But Dad’s an atheist.”

“Dad was an atheist.”

“You’re telling me he found God before he died?”

“No, I’m telling you he’s dead and you should conjugate your tenses accordingly.”

If we sound like a couple of callous assholes, it’s because that’s how we were raised. But in fairness, we’d been mourning for a while already, on and off since he was first diagnosed a year and a half earlier. He’d been having stomachaches, swatting away my mother’s pleas that he see a doctor, choosing instead to increase the regimen of the same antacids he’d been taking for years. He popped them like Life Savers, dropping small squibs of foil wrapping wherever he went, so that the carpets glittered like wet pavement. Then his stool turned red.

“Your father’s not feeling well,” my mother understated over the phone.

“My shit’s bleeding,” he groused from somewhere behind her. In the fifteen years since I’d moved out of the house, Dad never came to the phone. It was always Mom, with Dad in the background, contributing the odd comment when it suited him. That’s how it was in person too. Mom always took center stage. Marrying her was like joining the chorus.

On the CAT scan, tumors bloomed like flowers against the charcoal desert of his duodenal lining. Into the lore of Dad’s legendary stoicism would be added the fact that he spent a year treating metastatic stomach cancer with Tums. There were the predictable surgeries, the radiation, and then the Hail Mary rounds of chemo meant to shrink the tumors but that instead shrank him, his once broad shoulders reduced to skeletal knobs that disappeared beneath the surface of his slack skin.

Then came the withering of muscle and sinew and the sad, crumbling descent into extreme pain management, culminating with him slipping into a coma, the one we knew he’d never come out of. And why should he? Why wake up to the painful, execrable mess of end-stage stomach cancer? It took four months for him to die, three more than the oncologists had predicted. “Your dad’s a fighter,” they would say when we visited, which was a crock, because he’d already been soundly beaten. If he was at all aware, he had to be pissed at how long it was taking him to do something as simple as die. Dad didn’t believe in God, but he was a life- long member of the Church of Shit or Get Off the Can.

So his actual death itself was less an event than a final sad detail.

“The funeral is tomorrow morning,” Wendy says. “I’m flying in with the kids tonight. Barry’s at a meeting in San Francisco. He’ll catch the red-eye.”

Wendy’s husband, Barry, is a portfolio manager for a large hedge fund. As far as I can tell, he gets paid to fly around the world on private jets and lose golf games to other richer men who might need his fund’s money. A few years ago, they transferred him to the L.A. office, which makes no sense, since he travels constantly, and Wendy would no doubt prefer to live back on the East Coast, where her cankles and post- pregnancy jiggle are less of a liability. On the other hand, she’s being very well compensated for the inconvenience.

“You’re bringing the kids?”

“Believe me, I’d rather not. But seven days is just too long to leave them alone with the nanny.”

The kids are Ryan and Cole, six and three, towheaded, cherub-cheeked boys who never met a room they couldn’t trash in two minutes flat, and Serena, Wendy’s seven-month-old baby girl.

“Seven days?”

“That’s how long it takes to sit shiva.”

“We’re not really going to do this, are we?”

“It was his dying wish,” Wendy says, and in that single instant I think maybe I can hear the raw grief in the back of her throat.

“Paul’s going along with this?”

“Paul’s the one who told me about it.”

“What did he say?”

“He said Dad wants us to sit shiva.”

Paul is my older brother by sixteen months. Mom insisted I hadn’t been a mistake, that she’d fully intended to get pregnant again just seven months after giving birth to Paul. But I never really bought it, especially after my father, buzzed on peach schnapps at Friday-night dinner, had acknowledged somberly that back then they believed you couldn’t get pregnant when you were breast-feeding. As for Paul and me, we get along fine as long as we don’t spend any time together.

“Has anyone spoken to Phillip?” I say.

“I’ve left messages at all his last known numbers. On the off chance he plays them, and he’s not in jail, or stoned, or dead in a ditch, there’s every reason to believe that there’s a small possibility he’ll show up.”

Phillip is our youngest brother, born nine years after me. It’s hard to understand my parents’ procreational logic. Wendy, Paul, and me, all within four years, and then Phillip, almost a decade later, slapped on like an awkward coda. He is the Paul McCartney of our family: better-looking than the rest of us, always facing a different direction in pictures, and occasionally rumored to be dead. As the baby, he was alternately coddled and ignored, which may have been a significant factor in his becoming such a terminally screwed-up adult. He is currently living in Manhattan, where you’d have to wake up pretty early in the morning to find a drug he hasn’t done or a model he hasn’t fucked. He will drop off the radar for months at a time and then show up unannounced at your house for dinner, where he might or might not casually mention that he’s been in jail, or Tibet, or has just broken up with a quasi-famous actress. I haven’t seen him in over a year.

“I hope he makes it,” I say. “He’ll be devastated if he doesn’t.”

“And speaking of screwed-up little brothers, how’s your own Greek tragedy coming along?”

Wendy can be funny, almost charming in her pointed tactlessness, but if there is a line between crass and cruel, she’s never noticed it. Usually I can stomach her, but the last few months have left me ragged and raw, and my defenses have been depleted.

“I have to go now,” I say, trying my best to sound like a guy not in the midst of an ongoing meltdown.

“Jesus, Judd. I was just expressing concern.”

“I’m sure you thought so.”

“Oh, don’t get all passive-aggressive. I get enough of that from Barry.”

“I’ll see you at the house.”

“Fine, be that way,” she says, disgusted. “Good-bye.”

I wait her out.

“Are you still there?” she finally says.

“No.” I hang up and imagine her slamming her phone down while the expletives fly in a machine-gun spray from her lips.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 350 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 353 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    What A Perfect Book!

    Jonathan Tropper is known for his hilarious and clever novels, and he does not disappoint with his latest creation, This Is Where I Leave You.

    Judd Foxman's life is a mess. He comes home early from work to find his beautiful wife, Jen, in bed with another man. And not just any man, but his boss. After moving out of his charming suburban home and into a shoddy basement apartment, he is informed of his father's death. Suprisingly, although he was never a religious man, his dad's dying wish was for his family to sit Shiva for one week, in his honor. Reluctantly, Judd heads to his mother's house.

    Judd's family is a comedy lover's dream. Dysfunctional doesn't even begin to describe this clan. His mother is a world renowned parenting expert who can't even begin to understand her own children. His youngest brother, Philip, is a playboy who is constantly finding himself in one crisis or another. He comes to the family home with a guest that no one can quite figure out. Paul, his older brother, harbors a lot of resentment towards Judd. He and his wife are also struggling with fertility issues. His sister, Wendy, is his rock. But she is stuck is a loveless marriage and dealing with her own romantic disasters. Now all these siblings are forced to stay under the same roof. Add to this list a number of oddball mourners who come to pay their respects and you've got a week of dysfunctional comic drama. The repercussions are laugh out loud funny and poignant at the same time.

    As I read this book, I couldn't help but think that it would make an amazing movie. The characters are just so oddly lovable and relatable. The family dynamic is incredibly familiar and easy to identify with. The Foxman's are everyone's family. Sure, they are somewhat eccentric and manipulative, but the love they have for each other is clear. Yes, they may despise each other at times, but underneath the chaos is an undying loyalty to each other. And isn't that pretty much how every family works?

    26 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Best Read of 2009

    I picked this book on a whim, merely for it's title and was an amazing result of judging a book by it's cover. Tropper's writing is so realistic, half way through I had to remind myself I wasn't reading a biography, but a work of fiction. He crafts his characters very well, and you have no choice but to sympathize and empathize with these people. They are very real. The book tugs at your heart and gives you hope, and is not fantastical in any sort of way. It caused me to then continue reading books by Tropper, and I have yet to be disappointed. This is great for realists and romantics and people plagued by their own thoughts.

    18 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2011

    not recommended

    This book is not what I expected it would be. First I may be too old to enjoy the abundance of foul language. The humor is over the top. I do not find it amusing but just a little sick.

    13 out of 26 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2010

    this is where i leave you

    this is one of the best written views on how men handle conflicts that happen in a relationship. some of the dialogue was tedious, but overall it was insightful from a man's point of view. i felt bad for him, and i was mad at his wife for her lack of respect to bring someone into their home (bed) but some people do this w/o thinking of the effect it has on the other person. only thing i didn't like was situation was left unresolved and i like books to complete the cycle.

    10 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    LOVE this book.

    This is the first book I have read by Jonathan Tropper, and I am now hooked. He pulls you in with his writing style, and I found myself drawn in by the first page. Great story, I definitely recommend it.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 23, 2009

    So much fun to read

    I thought this book was absolutely hilarious and, at times, heartbreaking. The dialogue was out of the park good.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 14, 2011

    Awesome book, must read

    This is a great read. I did not want to put it down. Jonathan had me laughing out loud throughout the book. He makes you feel as if you know everyone in the book. Must read....

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    Hilarious

    LOVED this book. I went out and bought another Tropper book the next week. This book was at times sad and poignant, but Tropper really does a wonderful job of bringing the humor out of dark scenarios. This is one book that will both make you laugh out loud and feel slightly guilty reading in public.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2009

    Great book, and excellent writing!

    I absolutely loved this book. Its definitely very adult-themed. So if you are offended by talk about sex, then its best to stay away. The writing is spot on and its probably one of the better, and funniest, books that I have read in a long time. Usually I'm a person who enjoys the thriller genre, but I delved into this book quickly and never looked back. And I don't think I've laughed so loud reading a book EVER!

    Buy it, and enjoy it ... books like these come along once in a lifetime!

    I never heard of Jonathan Tropper until this book, and I immediately went back to B&N and purchased his other novels. He really is a great, and funny writer.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2012

    A real family!

    I laughed out loud, I cried, I loved this book! If you want to be thrown right into the middle of a family that is dysfunctional, funny, hurting and more real than fiction, then you should read this book!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    Incredibly Readable Novel with Literary Merit

    This is book is compulsively readable and entertaining. It is at once laugh out loud funny and heartbreaking. I read it in about three days. However, it is not lacking in substance or quality as some quick, easy reads are. The novel is ripe with genuine emotion, characters, and humor.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 19, 2009

    This is where I leave you.

    This is one of my favorite books. The characters come alive in the pages with all their flaws and quirks. I couldn't put it down, and I thought the humor was spectacular. I have already given a couple of copies to my friends to enjoy.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Jonathan Tropper's more messed up than you.

    Remember that time at your last family reunion when your Uncle Sal pinched your fiancee? In Tropper's world, it would have been your widowerer Father, and he would have wound up scoring with aforementioned fiancee in your childhood bedroom...from whence your shiftless younger brother runs his webcam porn business...thereby ensuring world-wide-web-broadcasting of the event. And that would have just been the first five minutes home. Hilarious and poignant by turns, Tropper navigates familial emotional minefields like nobody else today, keeping his larger-than-life wack-tastic characters shockingly real and vulnerable. Don't read this while drinking anything you'd mind snorting out your nose.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    laughed out loud

    One of the most entertaining books I have read in the last year.
    A bit graphic for me, brutally honest character, but sooo funny.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2013

    Fantastic!

    This book was amazingly funny. Jonathan Tropper has a way of painting a scene with words. This was the first book i havecread by him and it wont be the last

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2012

    very entertaining!

    I loved this book, the characters are damaged, sad, and hilarious. It's the dysfunctional family at it's best. I will read more of his books.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 10, 2009

    Laugh after Laugh

    A lot of humor that everybody gets. A couple things that only fellows will laugh at (or laugh at differently).

    Really liked his writing style! Often found myself saying "Hah! Cool! I like the way he said that. =)"

    Was a little surprised by the ending - not in a disappointing way.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2014

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

    I never write reviews, but I felt compelled for this book. I laughed from page one. I was sitting on the beach reading this and my husband said that people were looking at me because I was laughing so loudly! The characters were well developed, and the story was heart-warming. I wasn't offended by the language at all, but some people might be. I couldn't wait to read another book by Mr. Tropper, and I just finished "One Last Thing Before I Go". It was also very good.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 18, 2014

    I really enjoyed this story. This is the first I have read of Jo

    I really enjoyed this story. This is the first I have read of Jonathan Tropper. I enjoyed his style and truths, sometimes the insights seem to clear, but then I remembered how grief and life changing experiences sometimes can ring your bell. This story does that, the characters are very well rounded. We love to hold onto our hurts and indignation, until we discover everyone has their own truth and pain as well. I look forward to reading his earlier works.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2014

    Great book

    Great book. It kept my interest until the very end. I can totally see Justin Bateman playing this character. I can't wait for the movie to come out.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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