I feel like I should have liked This is Where I Leave You more than I did. I like books (and movies) with big ensemble casts. If there’s ever a movie where someone says “we’re getting the band back together!”, I’m there. And I love stories in the vein of dysfunctional families. And I don’t even mind an unlikable protagonist, which is certainly the case here! But the combination of those elements in this story left me wanting.
After the patriarch dies, the rather fucked up Foxman family is forced to spend seven days together, sitting shiva. This includes the eldest brother, who lost out on the life he thought he deserved after an injury that was the fault of Judd, our main character. Judd’s other two siblings, his sister, who’s husband is an ass, and his brother, the stereotypical baby. Judd himself is recently separated, after catching his wife in bed with his boss. Then there’s his plastic-surgery enhanced mother, a next door neighbor who used to date Judd’s sister until suffering a brain injury, and a couple of Judd’s exes. And there’s more, since each of the siblings comes with an S.O.
Too much to keep track of for such a short book (300 pages, I think?). I found myself grateful for IMDB, because at least I could look up the cast list and match up known actors with each character and make them a bit easier to keep track of (okay, Wendy is Tina Fey…Paul is Corey Stoll…). The author needed to either dump one of the siblings and their backstory, or focus more on just Judd, or make the book twice as long. The pieces of the puzzle just don’t fit otherwise.