For the past 5 of 6 months, I’ve been juggling two different book clubs. The first one, the one I’ve been in for years, was starting to get on my nerves. Not the people so much as the book choices. They just weren’t for me. I’m not a Twilight Mom and I’m not an Oprah addict, so there wasn’t much there for me. And I found myself a second, more “me” club. But even if I didn’t read the chosen books for the original club, I still liked to go and hang out. And at our last meeting, they mentioned that the new book was HILARIOUS and SEDARIS-LIKE, which piqued my interest.
And then they told me that it was being made into a movie with Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Jean Ralphio, and Connie Britton (and her magnificent hair). And when they said Timothy Olyphant was in it, I was sold. I was excited for the first time in a while about a Book Club Book.
And for the first half of the book, I was as excited as the rest of my friends. I laughed out loud a few times. I enjoyed picturing various actors in my head, playing out the scenes I had just read. And, you know, Olyphant.
The book is about 4 adult children who come home for the funeral of their father. The siblings haven’t seen much of each other recently, and aren’t really an emotionally open group, so there are lots of sarcastic barbs and funny comments to mask their grief. They are told by their mother and their rabbi that their dad wanted them to sit shiva, so they find themselves stuck together in their childhood home for the first time in ages for an entire week.
Our main character is Judd. Judd has recently split from his wife, the beautiful Jen, who was cheating on him with his boss, a Howard Stern-esque DJ. The story is told from Judd’s perspective, as he interacts with his sister, two brothers, and their various spouses, children, and girlfriends. He also spends time with his next door neighbor (the brain damaged Horry), his high school girlfriend, and various other friends and relatives he hasn’t seen in a while.
They all have their problems. Judd’s sister Wendy is in a loveless marriage and has three young children she can’t control. She was Horry’s high school girlfriend, and Horry will never get over her. Judd’s younger brother Phillip is a bit of a mess — always changing jobs, sleeping his way through the NYC female population, and getting in trouble with the law constantly. He brings his new, much older girlfriend to the funeral, trying to prove that he’s growing up finally. Judd’s older brother, Paul, holds a huge grudge against Judd because of something that happened in high school. And, by the way, Paul is married to Judd’s ex girlfriend, which leads to a few very awkward scenes in the book. And then there’s Hillary, their mother. Hillary is a famous child psychologist, who has written some of the most popular child rearing books ever. She also loves plastic surgery and inappropriate outfits, and she just might have something important to tell her children while they are all gathered together.
I liked how the book used humor to deal with serious situations: infidelity, infertility, grief, sexuality, religion, and faith.
But then, about halfway through the book, I got really tired of the humor and the sarcasm. I really just wanted someone in the book to step up and deal with an adult situation like an actual adult, and not laugh it off or ignore it. And by the end, when actual small steps were made in the right direction for some of the characters, it was too late for me, I just didn’t care anymore.
I know Tropper is a fairly popular writer with a few other novels under his belt, I’m just not sure I’ll bother to read them if they are the same “humorous” style. But I’ll still see the movie.
Four stars for the first half. Two stars for the second half.
You can read more of my reviews on my blog.