This is the first book I have read by Jonathan Tropper but it won’t be the last. I am a fan of the dysfunctional family having grown up in one and continuing the tradition myself. I am also a closeted lover of the light romantic comedy a la Nick Hornby. This book is both.
After the death of their emotionally distant father, 3 brothers and their sister with attendant wives, husbands and significant others arrive at their parents’ home only to find that that their largely agnostic father has requested that they sit shiva for seven days.
What follows is not only a description of the seven days but flashbacks from Judd, from whose viewpoint the story is told . Nick Hornby has a knack of telling a story from a male point of view that rings true. Jonathan Tropper does too. Judd speaks of his father, his brothers his sister and his mother with a true voice.
There were a couple of times in this book where I just fell out laughing out loud. Some of the passages are so well crafted and hilarious in the telling that they bear reading more than once.
The cover intimates that there may be tears. There were no tears for me but this is a book that as you read, has you reflecting on the truths that Tropper shares. There are no fairy tales. Love comes in a lot of packages and changes sometimes on a daily basis. We aren’t all as predictable as others may think us and we are very fallible as human beings.
Spoiler here – for myself, it was apropos (unknowingly) that I started reading this on National Coming Out Day. As a gay woman, it is rare when there is a lesbian storyline, particularly one written by a man, for it to be anything other than caricature or sexual in nature. How refreshing when Judd, sitting on the roof with his sister in the early morning, watches his neighbor Linda, for the second morning in a row, sneaking home to her house.
In a matter of fact way, he and his sister work out the relationship between Linda and his mother. After a row between Linda and Hillary lasting a few days, in front of all the shiva visitors – Linda and Hillary, two 63 year old women, kiss and let everyone know that not only are they together, but that Judd’s dying father knew and approved of the relationship. Hillary is a pistol throughout the book and Linda is a steady rock. This was a sweet surprise that I had no hint of when I bought the book.
Not only is the relationship handled masterfully but it is utterly refreshing that it is two older women with life’s experiences between them who are rediscovering love. And they are happy – not melancholy, not ashamed, loving, sexually active and largely accepted by their families.
It took me less than 24 hours to read this book and it was worth every minute.