Judd Foxman's father dies after a long illness, and his dying wish is that his family sit Shiva for him. This is surprising, since Mort Foxman generally considered himself to be an atheist, but the Foxman children obediently return home for the grueling seven day hell of being in each others' company.
Judd isn't in the best frame of mind. It hasn't been too long since Judd walked in on his wife having sex with his boss. His siblings are going through their own personal hells. His elder brother, Paul, struggles to hold their father's sporting goods business together, plus he and his wife Alice are trying unsuccessfully to have a baby. Judd's sister, Wendy, shows up with her three kids, and her amazingly self-absorbed hedge fund manager husband. Younger brother, Phillip--the family screw-up--arrives with his sorta fiancee ("We're engaged to be engaged). She's much older than he is, and a psychologist, just like Judd's mother.
As the seven interminable days pass, there are fistfights and tearful hugs, tears of laughter and sorrow, recriminations and confessions. This is Where I Leave You" follows all of these events through Judd's eyes, as he guides us through this week of frequently awkward togetherness.
Author Jonathan Tropper's narrative is inspired. The book is funny without trying. The characters are eccentric enough to provide smiles and belly laughs just from the way they interact. Even when nerves are frayed and behavior is at its worst, this family--and a few close friends--prove that they do love each other, though they are often loathe to admit it.
There are other funny books about families--most families have their share of craziness--but "This Is Where I Leave You" is one of the best I've read in many moons.