Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Book review: This is Where I Leave You

By Jonathan Tropper
Published by
Orion Books

Jonathan Tropper, bestselling author of How to Talk to a Widower, returns with a book that explores all the facets of family life – marriage, divorce, love and compromises being only a few of them.

A death in the family is the starting point of the narration, the reality that the reader is plunged into from the opening line. Although bringing with itself sadness for the loss of a loved one and, possibly, regrets for things done - or not done - in the past, death in this book is not a dark event looming over the living. It is rather an opportunity to come together.

Siblings Judd, Paul, Wendy and Phillip are informed by their exuberant mother that the unexpected last wish of their non-religious father was for them to sit Shiva. That means that, rather than leaving the house as soon as possible after the funeral - which was certainly what each of them was planning - they will have to spend seven days together in the same house, behaving like a family.

They reluctantly oblige and, with them, they each carry their own problems in the house.

Judd is angry at his wife for cheating on him and then confused as he learns that she is pregnant with their baby. Paul has a grudge against Judd for something happened a long time ago and is under pressure from his wife, who wants to conceive at all costs. Wendy, with three children, a workaholic husband and a former childhood sweetheart reminding her of what could have been, is contented but not satisfied with her life. And Phillip, the youngest brother, is desperately trying to grow up but not realising that having a relationship with someone older than him is not necessarily the right way.

Seven days full of friction, moments of sweetness, bouts of anger and frustration, secrets revealed and the constant attempt to make sense of life and put some order into it.

This is Where I Leave You is about the importance of family ties. And about how difficult it is to value them. A beautifully witty and engaging book that will put a smile on your face… when you aren’t laughing out loud!

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