Goodreads | This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper - Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists:
This is one of those books where the reviews were so disparate that I just had to try it for myself. I downloaded a sample, and I was hooked. I loved this book. It's funny, poignant, thoughtful, and uses humor in just the right way.
Judd, coming home early from work one day, to surprise Jen, his wife, on her birthday with a big cake, walks in on her screwing his boss. The his father dies, not unexpectedly, but who leaves surprise request. He wants the family to sit shiva for him (a ceremony I was not familiar with despite having had numerous Jewish friends in high school.) The family sits on special chairs, lower to the ground, in honor of the departed, and then talks about the dead relative with each other and friends and neighbors for a period of seven days. For someone like myself who finds a simple viewing traumatic, I can't imagine.
Anyway, Judd's family is typically dysfunctional, exaggerated slightly to bring out the humor in the situations, but not so much as to create caricatures. They love each other but really can't get along. Then there is the matter of the will which doesn't divide the business equally. And then Jen arrives during breakfast one morning, in the midst of a battle between Philip and Paul, "Hello dear,” my mother says, suddenly composed. “What a nice surprise.” These are the moments when you really have to wonder what reality my mother is living in. She can go from casually watching two of her sons pummeling each other to graciously welcoming the woman who ruined her other son’s life without missing a beat. But Jen has an announcement. And Phillip is engaged to be engaged to his therapist who is fifteen years older.
A sample: "I am going to be a father, just when I’ve lost my own. There are some who would see a certain divine balance in that, one soul departing to make room for another, but I’m not that guy. I don’t believe in God when I’m in trouble, the way so many people do. But at times like this, when the irony seems too cruel and well crafted to be a coincidence, I can see God in the details. Due to some mental hiccup I can’t explain, when I think of God, I picture Hugh Hefner: a thin, angular man with a prominent chin in a maroon smoking jacket. I don’t know where that image came from or why it stuck the way it did. Maybe when I was a kid I was thinking about God and I happened upon a picture of Hef in a magazine and some neurons fired and a permanent association was made. But when your vision of God is America’s horniest senior citizen in his pajamas, it’s probably fair to say that you’re not the kind of guy who sees miracles in the mundane coincidences fate lobs at your unsuspecting head like water balloons from a high terrace."
God as Hugh Hefner. I always wondered what the angels were for. That's an image I will treasure.
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