Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Book Club: Let’s Discuss “This is Where I Leave You”

As I mentioned before, this was my second reading of This is Where I Leave You. Luckily, I didn’t completely remember the ending, so — spoiler alert! — I kept wondering if Judd was going to end up back together with Jen or pursue Penny or what. Of course, we don’t know the answer to that. What do you think? I hope he and Jen don’t get back together, but remain friendly co-parents. I think Judd dates Penny briefly (again) and eventually embraces being alone, focusing on being a father and getting his life back together. He’ll find love again, but it will happen when he isn’t looking for it.

Other predictions: Alice becomes pregnant (baby conceived during the shiva, so she’ll never know who the father really is). Phillip remains a fuck-up forever. Wendy eventually divorces Barry, but stays on the west coast and spends her days lounging by her pool and driving her kids to and from different activities. The mom, whose name is escaping me (and I already returned the book to the library), stays with Linda for a long time — maybe even forever — but has numerous affairs with men, mostly widowed.

Other thoughts:

I’m so happy that Jen and Wade break up at the end. The thought of them together nauseated me.

I didn’t buy that someone like Tracy — successful, polished, sophisticated, has her shit together — would be dating a guy like Phillip. And I definitely didn’t buy that she’d just hand over her Porsche to him. WTF?

Penny gave me the sads and I wish we knew a little more about why her life turned out the way it did. I felt like her character/ storyline could have been developed a bit more.

And what did you think? Thumbs up or thumbs down? Was there anything you particularly loved or hated?

Oh! And I also liked that the house seemed almost dilapidated, but could be worth well over a million dollars. I felt like that was an interesting metaphor for this crazy family. There may be a lot of cracks in its foundation, but the love in there.

And don’t forget: This month we’re reading Fifty Shades of Grey, which you can buy here.

34 comments… add one
  • rachel May 2, 2012, 1:11 pm

    *sigh* I didn’t even buy this one, and I haven’t bothered to finish last month’s. Some day I’ll have time to catch up on reading. I guess I’ll just keep adding these to a future reading list.

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    Lili May 2, 2012, 1:31 pm

    I loved the story! It also gave me my favorite gross image and phrase ever-baked ejaculate. Hahaha I’m giggling even while typing that. The whole scene where judd walks in on them was so brilliantly written I was mad for Judd but laughing my head off at the images Tropper wrote so vividly.

    I also wondered what the draw to Jen was for Judd, it was never really described other than in terms of how powerful he felt while being with ‘someone like her’ I also though Jen was written to be very hollow and self serving and she had been that way for a long time. Judd just never realized it until he saw her screwing Wade.

    I also think Alice is pregnant from the Shiva, and Judd and she will always wonder.

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    • The_Yellow_Dart May 2, 2012, 2:29 pm

      Jen was also really unsympathetic for me – I think out of all the characters in the book, she was the one I liked the least, and I kept wanting to scream MOA at Judd…

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      • painted_lady May 2, 2012, 2:50 pm

        That’s so funny – I actually thought, at least in handling the death of the baby, that Judd was so cruel to leave her with her misery. I mean, of course he was grieving too, but neither one of them had a moment of “I should let my partner know how unhappy I am” before going out and doing further damage.

      • The_Yellow_Dart May 2, 2012, 3:17 pm

        That’s true – I did feel bad about Jen’s miscarriage. And sure, miscommunication was probably the downfall of their marriage, but Jen seemed the worst culprit here because she preferred “(burning) hot” sex with her husband’s boss and patron to opening up to her husband about her feelings – Judd was not as openly destructive. I thought the whole Wade thing was pretty unforgivable – “I’m having his baby”; “I love him”; “It’s your baby, but he’s going to help raise it”; “Oops, now that he doesn’t want me any more, I’ll take you back.”

      • cporoski May 2, 2012, 4:22 pm

        I felt for Jen too. Since it was written from His perspective, I think he made it that he couldn’t see her pain about the miscarriage. Also, I think it was clear that she settled for Judd so he never felt comfortable in the relationship.

    • Sue Jones May 2, 2012, 8:05 pm

      Boys like Judd often get the girl for their intelligence and their wit.

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  • The_Yellow_Dart May 2, 2012, 1:48 pm

    I loved the characters! Philip reminded me of Ryan Gosling’s character in _Crazy, Sexy, Love_ – a sexy man-child who always has something awesome to say – I don’t know if I’d give him a Porsche, but I’d give him something else 😉 The mom was a hoot, and while the family reunion after the death of parent is a common trope in modern literature/culture, I think Tropper made it his own. Even with the open ending for Judd, I thought that things were tied a little too neatly together – the estranged brothers made up, Jen and Wade split, Linda and Mrs. Foxman ended up together, etc. (I also hope Jen and Judd don’t get back together.)

    The dialogue was also a highlight for me – it showcases Tropper’s talent of turning the mundane and even the trite into the comic. My favorite line is Philip’s “Who’s the little whore now, bitch?” after he sucker punches his brother. The birthday cheesecake scene was also a highlight for me.

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    • The_Yellow_Dart May 2, 2012, 2:35 pm

      I have a nomination for a future book of the month – Julian Barnes’s _The Sense of an Ending_.
      Two compelling reasons why: 1) It’s beautifully written – the statement “History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation” epitomizes Barnes’s elegant style and is also the major theme of the novel; and 2) it’s very short – the paperback edition is only 176 pages!

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      • cporoski May 2, 2012, 4:23 pm

        I like Short…I am reading games of thrones right now and it is the longest book ever. good, but LONG

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        Shell May 3, 2012, 9:15 am

        I just started reading Sense of an Ending!

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    Heather May 2, 2012, 2:07 pm

    I loved this book. I feel like I have not much to say other than that. It isn’t very often that a book can make me laugh, cry, and feel happiness and so many emotions all in one reading.

    I liked Judd a lot as a character. Even though Jen was clearly selfish in her actions (and likely just a selfish person all around), the analysis of marriage in this book showcases that it’s always a two way street. Jen felt lonely after the miscarriage, and her perception of Judd’s refusal to acknowledge what happened perhaps led her to have an affair. Again, not justifying her actions. But again, marriage goes both ways.

    I loved the family interaction. It reminded me of my family in a lot of ways. In my opinion it’s so truthful and comically honest.

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  • cporoski May 2, 2012, 2:40 pm

    I totally understand why Tracy is with Phillip. She is polished sophisticated and all she wants is her feathers ruffled. I agree with Yellow Dart that he reminds me of Crazy Stupid Love. I think Tracy wanted something exciting and fun with a (as my mom puts it) “Good TIme Charlie”.

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    • The_Yellow_Dart May 2, 2012, 2:43 pm

      If they make this into a movie, Ryan Gosling should definitely play Phillip…

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  • Sue Jones May 2, 2012, 3:30 pm

    Loved the way he could make not so funny situations humorous. Loved the cultural Jewish references – could identify…. Phillip is 24? He could still turn his life around… but will he? Judd could be a real jerk, too. Just shows you how not having honest communication can really spiral out of control… I like how he left it open, and also wanted to know more backstory on Penny. But it sounds like she really just did not have the resources to go to college and develop a career, or suffers from bouts of depression so ended up stuck in a dead end job in the hometown of endless suburbia and made some bad choices with men… a cautionary tale. I read this right after visiting my own hometown so seeing how people have turned out and who they married is sometimes interesting, often sad.

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    • Natasiarose May 2, 2012, 6:24 pm

      Oh yeah judd wasn’t perfect at all. I think the author was good at portraying the shades of grey that exist in everyone. No one can be good all the time.

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    • cporoski May 3, 2012, 9:02 am

      I honestly think that everyone knows a Penny.

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  • SpaceySteph May 2, 2012, 2:45 pm

    I really enjoyed this book. Read it in 2 sittings… on the plane to and from Chicago this weekend. It was very engaging and easy to read, so it made the flight fly by… for the most part.
    The details of Jen and Judd and how they fell apart made me just SO SAD. Maybe because I’m planning my own wedding and I’m worried about that happening to us? Will tragedy pull us apart or bring us together? There’s no way to know until it happens. My fiancé is much like Judd, the kind who doesn’t express feelings often and thinks that the best way to get through a problem is to dust yourself off and try again.

    Anyways, as for Tracy… sometimes you can be put together and still be drawn in by a cad like Phillip. I got the impression that being with a younger man made her feel young and hot… until she saw him with actual young girls and realized that being with him actually made her older by comparison. I had a similarly ill advised relationship with a younger man (not as big of a gap); but maybe it’s more forgivable because I was early 20s at the time? And not a life coach? I was a college senior and I was afraid of my impending graduation and entry into the real world and he was a fun-loving freshman who provided a tie to my own carefree college days. It was a nice escape, but I built it into more in my head to keep from having to totally let go of college. So I can see her side; she looks like a moron, but it wasn’t Phillip she was in love with, it was being the girl (not woman) Phillip would be with.

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    • SpaceySteph May 2, 2012, 2:47 pm

      Oh and the mom’s name is Hillary. I didn’t like that name choice… it doesn’t seem to fit the age of the character. If I hear Hillary, I think of a 40 year old woman, not a 60-something.

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      • Natasiarose May 2, 2012, 6:24 pm

        It make me think of Hilary Clinton :p

      • SpaceySteph May 3, 2012, 9:54 am

        Heh I suppose she’s older too, huh? Maybe it’s my own youth slipping away.

    • cporoski May 3, 2012, 9:00 am

      That is the thing about relationships. You never know how they will grow and change over the years. I honestly don’t think that if they last through a trama is an indication of how good they were. SpaceySteph- don’t worry about the future, focus on the wedding and the love that you are celebrating now 🙂

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  • Natasiarose May 2, 2012, 6:23 pm

    I loved this book! I could feel sympathy for all the characters, even when Ed were hurting each other. No one is perfect and everyone was trying their best.

    I think the mom will be monogamous with Linda, why not? Just bc she was flirty doesn’t mean she’s a cheater. I think the sister will stay married. I. Can see why Tracy fell for Philip, he sounds like a cutie pie. I like to think he gets his act together and she finds someone more age appropriate.

    Oh and Alice def has Judd’s baby! That was kind of rape right? He did say no…

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    • cporoski May 3, 2012, 9:04 am

      The Alice/Judd thing was so messed up. I just could not get over how messed up that was. But I have read three different books where a sibbling helped an infertile couple now. I think it happened way more before fertility treatment. Every time I read about it, it creeps me out.

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    iwannatalktosampson May 2, 2012, 11:48 pm

    I love love love LOVED this book. I am super tired and have to prep some stuff tonight still (boo) but y’all can bet your ass I’m going to be writing my own mini novel tomorrow about how much I loved every story line in this book. Oh and I already bought too other books by the same author just in hopes that they will be even half as good. This was my first time partaking in the book of the month and I gotta say it started out with a bang. Okay now I’m really going to get back to work. Either that or get horny thinking about all the sex scenes again.

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    • cporoski May 3, 2012, 9:05 am

      Just wait for next month’s book if you haven’t read it.

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  • Sue Jones May 3, 2012, 12:11 pm

    Apparently Jonathan Tropper is writing a screenplay for it – it has been optioned for a movie. Here is how I would cast it:

    Hilary – Meryl Streep or some other actress who could pull it off.
    Judd – Jake Gyllenhaal
    Wendy – MAggie Gyllenhaal
    Tracy – Jennifer Aniston or some other actress over 40.
    Paul –
    Alice –
    Phillip – some hot unknown for whom this is his breakout role
    Penny – Mila Kunis (!)
    Wade – someone who could play a real asshole comedically. Who is that guy who used to be on Saturday night live? Tall?

    I would hope they would go with a lot of character actors.

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    • Sue Jones May 3, 2012, 12:12 pm

      Oh, and Scarlette Johannsen could do a good Jen.

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      • Sue Jones May 3, 2012, 12:15 pm

        Ben Stiller could also be a good Judd.

    • cporoski May 3, 2012, 12:20 pm

      are you thinking Will Farrell for Wade?

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      • Sue Jones May 3, 2012, 12:23 pm

        Yes! That’s who it was! Thanks!

    • cporoski May 3, 2012, 12:21 pm

      And Phillip is played by Ryan Gossling.

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      • Sue Jones May 3, 2012, 12:26 pm

        OK I could go with that… Also they would need someone to play Horry who would have that just-right balance of poignant without being too over the top pathetic. Sort of tragic yet able to laugh at himself. If only Brad Pitt or Ben Affleck were younger… that would be some interesting casting.

  • Jane October 1, 2014, 5:46 pm

    Would you mind helping me break down the book into sections for a book club? I haven’t read it yet and plan to do so with the club, but I am hoping to break it down into smaller sections than the various days. Any suggestions? Thank you

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