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Discovering Jonathan Tropper: This Is Where I Leave You

Getting to Jonathan Tropper - get to know this author

Tina Fey, Shawn Levy, Jonathan Tropper, Jason Bateman

Jonathan Tropper was one of the greatest discoveries of my spring.

At the end of every night I wind down with a book. With the change of the season I was craving a new voice to read: Something fresh and different that would make me think, but also laugh out loud. After searching online book reviews I decided to read a book by Jonathan Tropper. I started with This is Where I Leave You.

The story begins with Judd Foxman finding out that his father has passed away. Judd’s mother demands that he come home to sit Shiva. She actually insists that all of the Foxman children come home to do this to honor their father. So they do. All four of the adult Foxman children return and they bring all of their family baggage.

What I quickly adored about the book was that every character was a complete mess, every character had a million things going on, and Tropper wove all of these stories together in a way that I found myself actually rooting and cheering for all of them. When I finished the book I wasn’t surprised to discover that it was already in the process of becoming a film. (You have until September to read the book before the film comes out!)

The cast for the film version seems perfect: Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Jason Bateman, Dax Shepard … I’m planning on rereading the book now and visualizing this cast.

Last week Jonathan Tropper, director of the film Shawn Levy, and two of the movie’s stars, Tina Fey and Jason Bateman sat down at a panel at Book Expo America to talk about the film adaptation with enthusiastic fans of the novel. Their discussion gave a glimpse as to why they jumped on board to play siblings in This Is Where I Leave You. Bateman, who is often the straight man in comedies, told the panel, “If I do anything funny, it usually lives pretty close to drama, anyway. I enjoy playing characters that can do that, that can jump back and forth between something humorous and something heartbreaking.”

Tina Fey added that she was drawn to the story for similar reasons. “When you see it, like with the book, there are moments that are very funny, and moments that will move you to tears. Real life is never just serious. People cope through humor.”

Adapting the book into a movie wasn’t easy. To hear Jonathan Tropper describe it, it was downright painful. Tropper says, “Adapting your own book is like performing open-heart surgery on your own child.” Tropper has also written a screenplay adaptation for his book One Last Thing Before I go.

Summer has only just begun. As you start to make your seasonal pop culture bucket list, make sure you add discovering Jonathan Tropper to the top.

Watch the trailer for the film version of This Is Where I Leave You:

Image Credit: Jonathan Tropper Author Site

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