I started reading Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You in a rush last month because I knew the movie was soon to be released (September 19, 2014). I couldn’t risk seeing any clips or movie trailers because I was worried that knowing who all of the actors playing certain characters in the book might change my reading experience. Part of the fun of reading for me (and for many people, I think) is using imagination to create the different characters and scenes throughout the book.
I knew this book was supposed to be funny and I have always measured humorous books with something I call the David Sedaris meter. If it makes me laugh out loud while reading, it‘s a winner. I remember many years ago, shortly after I had read Me Talk Pretty One Day, I was at the Denver International airport and saw a woman laughing hysterically while reading. As I approached her, I noticed the cover of her book – Me Talk Pretty One Day. Jonathan Tropper’s novel all but busts the David Sedaris meter. I was laughing out loud many times, but also found parts of the book that made me well up with tears.
This Is Where I Leave You opens up with the dysfunctional Foxman family coming together to sit Shiva for their recently deceased father. The protagonist, Judd, has also recently discovered his wife Jen is having an affair with his boss. They’re not really a close-knit, lovey-dovey family and along the way you feel the tension and awkwardness of a group of related people forced to come together and face issues and feelings that have been built up over years. Everyone can relate in some way to the communication perils that this family encounters as they sit for Shiva.
As I made my way through the book, loving it the entire way through, I started to really get the urge to watch the movie trailer. I fell in love with all of the characters – the hot messes that they are – and my curiosity for who was cast in what role got the best of me. I watched the trailer and it only enhanced my reading experience. The casting director did a superb job. Jane Fonda playing the neurotic mother is on point, as well as Jason Bateman playing the protagonist, Judd Foxman. Tina Fey, another brilliant actor/comedienne stars as Wendy Foxman, the sister in an emotionally empty marriage. Adam Driver and Dax Shepard add to the mix and richness by playing the baby of the family and ex-high school jock.
Jonathan Tropper’s This Is Where I Leave You is an emotionally charged and deeply funny tale that will have you crying with laughter and sadness. The movie comes out on September 19, 2014. Tropper’s wit, writing style, and flawed characters have won me over for good. So much so that I’m now digging into another one of his bestsellers (also being developed into a movie), One Last Thing Before I Go.