We’ve heard it a million times… The book is always better than the movie! There are very few examples where I can say that the movie was more enjoyable than the book it was based upon. So when I see a list of books that are about to be made into movies, of course I jump at the chance to read first! My book clubs chose a few from the same list so I decided to listen to one that wasn’t chosen.
Book#18 This is Where I Leave You, Jonathan Tropper
Synopsis: To say that Judd has a lot going on right now would be a bit of an understatement. His father has just died of a long battle with cancer and he must return to his childhood home to sit shiva with his family. His family has a strange way of dealing with each other, and may not survive the next seven days in each others company without a trip to the hospital. His wife has left him for his boss; an affair he discovered by catching them in bed together on her birthday. He quit his job and moved into a basement apartment.
His dad was never a very observant Jew, so no one can quite figure out why they are all sitting shiva, or why it was his dying wish that they do so. Paul, the oldest brother, seems to want to play the martyr since he took over the family business and still lives in the same town. Wendy, next in line, wants to be better than everyone else again, and has brought her husband and three children along so her presence will be a priority. Philip, the youngest, is a bit of a black sheep and the baby and is intent of playing the role full-tilt. Judd just wants to get through the week without having to discuss everything going on in his life. Their mother just wants them to be a family again, giving advice and meddling, matchmaking and embarrassing the kids with her flashy outfits.
When Judd’s wife shows up with some unexpected news, Judd has to figure out the next phase of his life; and it wont be the clean slate he was hoping for.
My Impressions: I’m not sure I’d recommend this book, and I might wait for HBO or Redbox for the movie (though I think Jason Bateman is playing Judd and that might be worth watching). There is a lot going on with the family dynamics. The author does a good job of distinguishing character traits, but there are 4 siblings, 4 significant others, a mom, extended family, close friends, a boss/lover, old girlfriends and opportunistic widowers, all with details to keep track of. It was a little like trying to catch up with my own extended family at the holidays. Also, Judd is a little bit whiny and depressing, and it’s hard to feel sorry for him. Not because he was in anyway at fault for his situation, just because he keeps whining about it, and whining about how little sex he’s had lately. Just a little hard to care. The story moves a long with plenty of conflict and lots of family antics. It’s funny, but in a “only because it’s not happening to me” kind of way. You do start to care more about Judd as he sorts through his issues and decides to man-up a little, but then the end is a little anti-climactic.
Why you should read it: As I said, I wouldn’t jump to recommend the book. But if you want to compare the book to the upcoming movie, it’s worth a read. It was still a good book, even if there was a lot going on with kind of a sad-sack hero. In fact it’s just the kind of role that Jason Bateman plays perfectly!
Book #18 in the bag!
“but for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.” ― Jane Austen