Book Reviews

One Last Think Before I Go by: Jonathan Tropper


     Drew Silver has begun to accept that life isn’t going to turn out as he expected. The ex-wife he’s remained friends with is about to marry a terrific guy Silver can’t quite bring himself to hate. And his Princeton-bound teenage daughter has just confided in him that she’s pregnant—because he’s the one she cares least about letting down. As the wedding looms and the pregnancy sinks in, this broken family struggles, bonds, and wrestles with each member’s individual anxieties. Lives begin anew, change radically, or, in Silver’s case—as he discovers that he could die at any moment without an operation he refuses to have—may be about to end in an instant.
One Last Thing Before I Go demonstrates yet again Tropper’s deft touch with the darkest of materials and his ability to make readers laugh out loud in one paragraph and move them to tears in the next. (Goodreads Synopsis)

I have enjoyed Jonathan Tropper’s books since reading This Is Where I Leave You for a book club a few years ago. I have read many books lately about women trying to find their way and then some perfectly gorgeous guy comes along and all of a sudden their life is a fairy tale filled with loads of money, great sex and never-ending drama.  Those books have their place but it’s always interesting to get a male author’s view about men in general, maybe refreshing. Especially a character like Silver who is in a major rut and isn’t the dashing hero who has it all together. Even though he is such a loser with no redeeming qualities, you find yourself rooting for him to get his life together. In a nutshell he is lost at forty-four years old, “…although he doesn’t know if you call it depression when you have good reason to be; maybe then you’re simply sad, or lonely, or just painfully aware, on a daily basis, of all the things you can never get back.”

The poignant quotes and memorable moments are vast in this story and you get to hear first hand how Silver is navigating through life at a time where he is not sure to fight for a change or curl up and die.

“Mistakes have been made. It’s hard to know where to start. Things have been a mess for so many years that trying to pin down a starting point is like trying to figure out where your skin starts.”

Even though I found myself wanting to reach into the story and shake Silver and yell “get a grip”, he always owned up to his faults, disarming the reader as well as the characters he constantly disappoints.  He has been alone for so long and made such terrible decisions regarding his ex-wife, daughter, family, friends and career that it takes a health scare to really get him back in the game. “The thing about living alone is that it gives you a lot of time to think. You don’t necessarily reach any conclusions, because wisdom is largely a function of intelligence and self-awareness, not time on your hands.” <–LOVE this quote!

In the story, you also hear points of view from his ex-wife Denise and daughter, Casey, who help give a more in-depth look at the damage he caused as well as the people who still care for him despite his choices. That’s the beauty of Tropper’s stories. They are not some cutesy, pretty stories where everyone is perfect and solves their problems the textbook way. This story was real: annoying, aggravating, frustrating, sad, dirty and yet hilarious. Isn’t that how life is? Families get together and there is drama and peace. Fighting and love.  Laughter and sadness. There is a spot-on quote about divorce when Silver realizes that his ex-wife Denise and mother still get together for lunch and that his Rabbi father is going to officiate the marriage between his ex and new husband, “Getting divorced is a messy business under the best circumstances, because in some ways, you never stop being a family.”

Silver’s family and friends are such colorful characters and developed so well that it screams “movie”. I especially liked the realtionship between Silver and his father, Rabbi Silver. His is such an insightful, funny man and wants nothing more than to have his son see all the things that are still worth fighting for; still worth living for.

Don’t think it’s all despair and sadness beacause Tropper once again is able to entertain the reader with inventive descriptions of human nature and life. His use of humor and absurdity punctuated with heartfelt moments are honestly about the ties that bond us as family and friends. And the ties are typically dysfunctional.

Author Info:    Jonathan Tropper is the internationally bestselling author of six novels: Plan BThe Book of Joe, Everything ChangesHow To Talk to a WidowerThis Is Where I Leave You, and One Last Thing Before I Go. His books have been translated into over twenty languages.   This Is Where I Leave You, which he adapted as a feature film for Warner Brothers, is currently shooting with Shawn Levy directing.  Additionally, Jonathan is adapting the New York Times Bestseller, One Last Thing Before I Go, for JJ Abrams and Paramount Pictures.  He is also the co-creator and executive producer of the television show Banshee, which premiered on Cinemax in January 2013. He lives in Westchester, NY with his three children. (copied from his website)

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*Exciting update: This Is Where I Leave You is soon to be a major motion picture which began shooting in May 2013!

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