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This is Where I Leave You
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Lilybeth (_li_) | 335 comments Mod
1. Is the Foxman family really in mourning? How can you tell? As an atheist, why does Mort request that his family sit shiva after his death?

2. What's wrong with these people! Whom do you finger as the most dysfunctional family member, including spouses? Which character do you find...funniest...most despicable...most sympathetic? Be honest, now: any of them you identify with?

3. What has caused the tension between Judd and his brother Paul? What are some of the other family secrets and entanglements?

4. Clearly, Judd is an adult, yet this book can also be seen as a delayed coming-of-age story. What does Judd learn in the end about himself and his role in helping to create the world in which he finds himself?

5. How 'bout that rabbi? Is the Foxman's assessment of him fair?

6. What do the Foxman offspring come to understand about their parents by the book's finale?

7. How does Judd respond to becoming a father, and how does he connect his role as soon-to-be parent with the loss of his own father? In what way does parenthood take on meaning for him?

8. What is the significance of the book's title?


Kai Hunter | 192 comments Li wrote: "1. Is the Foxman family really in mourning? How can you tell? As an atheist, why does Mort request that his family sit shiva after his death?

Yes, though at first I don't think they know it. Because even with everything else going on in their lives, everything slows down to allow them time to come to terms with their father passing.

The last is a trick question. So I will give the generic answer that it is because it was needed. Everyone in that family had something they needed to work through with each other.


2. What's wrong with these people! Whom do you finger as the most dysfunctional family member, including spouses? Which character do you find...funniest...most despicable...most sympathetic? Be honest, now: any of them you identify with?

Nothing, they just are carrying a lot of baggage. It's hard to pick a most here because their dysfunctions are all so interconnected. But Paul has turned bitter and that made me the saddest. Funniest, Phillip, despicable Boner, sympathetic, Serena...I can't let a baby cry. I see a lot of me in Phillip and a lot Phillip in me. The gifted baby of the family who never stops letting everyone down.

3. What has caused the tension between Judd and his brother Paul? What are some of the other family secrets and entanglements?

That would depend on which brother you asked. Paul feels betrayed and left behind by Judd and Judd thinks that Paul blames him for everything he's lost.

This family doesn't keep secrets, remember.


4. Clearly, Judd is an adult, yet this book can also be seen as a delayed coming-of-age story. What does Judd learn in the end about himself and his role in helping to create the world in which he finds himself?

Judd was content to be a passive almost "observer" in his life. Not going to visit his brother, Paul; content to let his marriage stagnate; and so sure that things were good and going to stay that way. The soul searching and family interaction that happens over the seven days of Shiva empower him to be an active participant in his life, to Man Up.

5. How 'bout that rabbi? Is the Foxman's assessment of him fair?

To the Foxmans it is. His theology seems more like rote memorization than the deep and abiding love of God. I saw rabbi boner almost as a PR guy, not a clergyman.

6. What do the Foxman offspring come to understand about their parents by the book's finale?

That they were human. They already judged them for not being perfect when they expected them to be perfect. At the end of the story I think they finally started seeing their parents as real people just doing their best in an imperfect way.

7. How does Judd respond to becoming a father, and how does he connect his role as soon-to-be parent with the loss of his own father? In what way does parenthood take on meaning for him?

I think Judd is going through stages of fatherhood acceptance like he's going through stages of grief. At first he doesn't know how he feels, then he doesn't want to be a father, then he starts to embrace it. For the connection, he's worried about being a better father than his father was. (Like every parent!) I think the meaning of parenthood hits him when he realizes he doesn't want to be the "outside" parent. He wants to be a part of his child's life and to know them intimately. Which with his issues, could be very difficult.

8. What is the significance of the book's title?"

Symbolically Judd's told his story and now he's leaving us to decide our own ending for his life. Literally he's leaving everything and everyone for a time. This story ended for me like Eleanor and Park did...I'm sitting here waiting for the sequel.



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