Life is really, incredibly, unbelievably messy. People fall in and out of love, or they can’t tell. They do things they can’t explain–or things they can explain, but don’t really want to. People we care about can surprise us in ways we would never have anticipated.
“This is Where I Leave You” is about that mess. A big family, sitting shiva for a dead father. Friends and acquaintances filter in and out, and everyone tries not to kill each other.
They’re a normal family. Three out of four siblings are married, one is a screw-up. They reunite for holidays. Live scattered up and down the East Coast.
They’re normal, and they’re unhappy in normal ways. We all know unhappy families are the interesting ones. But Tolstoy left out an amendment–the unhappiness that makes us interesting is linked to absurdity. There’s something ridiculous about the way an unhappy family interacts with one another.
These people are both miserable and happy, their interactions both hilarious and heartbreaking. Choices are made, life changes. There aren’t any answers that make sense.
It’s a novel about adulthood, about complicated questions without easy answers, about decisions made in ignorance–and, let’s not forget, ludicrous sexual antics.