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This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
Dear Sissybug Book Review

Dear Sissybug,

While I do think you were a bit harsh in your review, I will say that I generally agree with your sentiments.

I will also say the following: the movie is so so so much better than the book.*

When you first asked me what I thought as I was reading this novel, before I had even seen the movie, I mentioned to you that I felt like the main character (and through the connection of creation, the author) was a complete misogynist who viewed women as nothing but sexual objects and that it made me feel a bit icked out. My opinion remains unchanged.

To be fair, those knockers
were legendary.
You're right. Every woman he comes across is either an asexual family member (oddly enough his own mother is excluded from this first category in a rather oedipal facet of the story) or a potential sexual encounter. I got really tired of the constant explanations about how he longed to caress one woman's thigh, another woman's earlobe, or yet another woman's uterus. Honestly, though, what upset me most about it was the way he presented the desire.

It was almost as if he was masking outright physical lust with some sort of charming, quasi-respectful bullshit. He never said, "I find that woman attractive. I want to have sex with her because her boobs make my penis hard." Instead, he fantasized about relationships with them, attempting to prove that he was one of the good ones, in it for the long haul to treat a woman right instead of the one-night bone session he actually wanted. It was almost as if Tropper was trying to convince his female readers that he wasn't a complete and utter douchebag. Needless to say, I am still unconvinced.

Part of me is chalking it up to the fact that I've never been divorced, so I don't know how that affects a person's psyche, but I feel like that's not a very strong leg to stand on when it comes to the objectification of human beings.

The kid's poop scene was one of my favorites, as I'm sure it was one of yours. It made me laugh so hard while I was on break at work that a coworker leaned over to my desk to see if everything was okay. You know how our family deals with poop jokes, so the humor was not lost on me.

I disagree with you that the characters were one-dimensional, though. Judd and his idiocy aside, there were so many instances of realistic writing in this novel, especially when it came to the characters and their decisions.

I want to be Tina Fey's best friend.
For example, Wendy. I know you weren't a big fan, but I really liked this character.** I hated that she chose to stay with her tool of a husband at the end instead of leaving him for Horry, but I understood her decision. She made the choice to be unhappy - a choice that was hers to make, happy little ending bow be damned. I don't have to like the choice, but I appreciate that Tropper didn't give his readers what they wanted here. It rang really true with me, and I appreciated that.

Like you, I also really enjoyed the mother. I absolutely adored the relationship between her and Linda, the next door neighbor, and I loved the fact that she was unashamed of her new breasts and unafraid to admit that she had gotten them through unnatural methods. She was an older, intelligent, sexual being, and I don't think that's represented enough in today's media. Old people are celibate and senile, or so the media has convinced us.

I didn't so much like Tracy, however. I pitied her, yes, but my sympathy went out the window the minute they said they were engaged. She put herself into the position of being in a relationship with a man who was a perpetual child obsessed with getting as much sex as he could get from whomever he could convince to sleep with him. She knew him better than everyone else - she was his therapist, for goodness sakes - so she should have known, especially at her age and experience, that he was bad news.

At the end of the day, I give the book a very hesitant 3.5 stars, but ultimately I recommend watching the movie instead. It's heartwarming, and entirely lacking in misogyny. Jason Bateman did a bang up job of actually being a relatively good human being who was going through something awful.

Stefers the Great
AKA Sister Person

*As a bibliophile, my soul died just a little bit as I typed that sentence.

** I think my attachment to this character may have been swayed by the fact that I saw Tina Fey's representation of her, and I have an unhealthy love for the actress and anything she does.


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