What do you get when you give a few book worms an awesome book and a bottle, or two, of wine? Two hours spent in enthusiastic conversation discussing everything from sibling dynamics to small town bureaucracy (because it’s always better to read the book before you see the movie, right?. The book being discussed, This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper, has been translated to over 20 languages and is about to be released a major motion picture starring Jason Bateman, Tina Fey and Jane Fonda.
[infobox]When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide—driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.[/infobox]
We began the conversation by describing the book in adjectives. It was raw, hilarious, honest, sincere, dysfunctional and insightful. It’s a book about love, family, marriage, and the many ties that bind us – the good and the bad. Using the Book Club discussion questions as a guide, we delved into the family dynamic because to us, that’s what really makes this book. After all, it does take place during a sit shiva.
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat was your first impression of Judd’s wife, Jen? Because you see her almost entirely from Judd’s perspective, was there any chance to see her as a sympathetic character before Judd finds her so? Do you think that Judd and Jen have a chance at salvaging their relationship, with or without a baby girl to raise?
It’s hard to like Jen right away. She is immediately made out to be a villian. However as the book progresses, you begin to realize that Judd starts out as a guy who is always the victim. He always sees his problems as the result of someone else’ actions and rarely of his own doing. Once the reader realizes this about him, you begin to see the people around him in a slightly differently light. It’s hard to say if either of them have really grown enough to salvage their relationship but it’s food for thought.
[dropcap]F[/dropcap]or all of their faults, is the Foxman clan a likeable group of people? What makes them an endearing group of people? Who did you like the most, and who did you find the least appealing, and why? Were there any characters you would have liked to see developed further?
This group of dysfunctional, sometimes irrational, often childish people couldn’t be more likeable. For all their faults, there is something highly relatable about each of them. Because as much as we want to deny it, there is a part of any one of them in all of us.
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hat did you think of Judd’s exit at the end of the shiva? Was his disappearance in Phillip’s Porsche realistic? Appropriate? Did you find it a satisfying resolution to the book?
While I wouldn’t call the ending realistic, it was completely appropriate for him. Because no matter how much he has grown throughout this experience there is still that part of him. Whether it’s his own childishness or the sibling influence that drops him to his juvenile self, it seemed only fitting.
THE IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU is in theaters September 19 and the book is available to purchase now. You can join the virtual #TWILY book club by liking TWILY on Facebook and following @JTropper on Twitter!
This post brought to you by Warner Bros. Pictures. All opinions remain my own.