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8.16.2010

Dad's Book Review #1: This Is Where I Leave You

It doesn't get much better than reading a good book.  Reading is one of my all-time favorite activities.  But once you have kids, you're reading list includes much more Dr. Seuss (which isn't a bad thing) and much less Dan Brown (which is a bad thing).  With the limited opportunity to read, I don't have time to search and search for a good book.  I like it when people who generally like the things I do can make a recommendation for me.  Some one to give me a review upfront.  I appreciate that.  And I'm sure you do, too.  So we're adding a new book review feature to Dads Ink - book reviews about books that we read that are related to fatherhood.  This is our first review.


Dad's dead," Wendy says off-handedly, like it's happened before, like it happens every day.  And thus begins the equal-parts dark, honest and laugh-out-loud funny This Is Where I Leave You, author Jonathan Tropper's 5th novel.

Judd Foxman, our protagonist and narrator, is a 33-year-old who has had a really bad 3 months. First, he walked in on his wife cheating on him with his Howard Stern-like boss.  Then he moved into the basement of an old couple of poop and pee all night long, and his life & he have gone to Hell.  Now his father has died. And on top of it all, he has to sit Shiva (Jewish period of mourning) with his entire family - a family with deep wounds and frayed nerves - for the next seven days.  Talk about misery!

I was unfamiliar with Tropper before this book.  I picked it up after reading a recommendation from one of my favorite bloggers on Twitter, who said Tropper writes how he thinks.  I thought that was a huge compliment, and I knew instantly that it was going to be downright hilarious and chock-full of cuss words.  And since I think they way this blogger writes, I decided to give it a try.  He may now be my current favorite author.  I'm eagerly anticipating reading his previous four books.

The honesty of Tropper's writing is not only refreshing, but completely breathtaking at some points.  He says, through the narration of Judd, all of those little thoughts that run through our mind when life is happening that we would rather not acknowledge.  This thoughts that make us seem selfish, petty, and cold-hearted.  That, if actually said out loud while we were thinking them, would make the people around us hate us and our callousness.  But it's just so damn honest.

As I said, Judd is the protagonist.  But he's also human.  He makes bad decisions and acts selfishly.  But that doesn't stop me from identifying with him, because I, too, make bad decisions and act selfishly.  Like many of us, Judd has "daddy issues" that are brought to light after his old man passes.  Daddy issues that he can't ever really resolve because his dad is dead.  And now he trudge through those issues while trying to put his life back together and prepare for an unexpected new life.  Judd is no superhero, but he is Everyman, and there really isn't anyone better to root for, is there?

This is a fantastic book and a quick read.  It's quick because you can't put it down.  Get this book and read it.

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