I spent yesterday on the living room sofa, unshaven and unshowered, reading Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You underneath the Charter Club Ultra Plush Throw that my mom picked out for me at a Macy's Black Friday sale in Pittsburgh four years ago with which to drape over the arms of the Manhattan Leather Club Chair I had recently purchased. Having read and reread Tropper's The Book of Joe on a loop throughout my twenties, I had very high hopes for this book and, as it turns out, I was right to. This Is Where I Leave You is every bit as wonderful as I needed it to be. Tropper, like Barbara Kingsolver or Joan Didion or John Green, makes you want to read with a highlighter pen in hand to mark all of the passages that are worth going back to until you quickly realize that almost all of them are and the highlighter pen is useless. In short, Jonathan Tropper is the kind of writer I want to be when I grow up. Below are just ten of the countless highlighter-worthy quotes from This Is Where I Leave You, in no particular order.
"You have to look at what you have right in front of you, at what it could be, and stop measuring it against what you've lost. I know this to be wise and true, just as I know that pretty much no one can do it."
"I sit down on the bed, cradling her little head against my shoulder, inhaling her sweet baby scent. Someday she'll get older, and the world will start having its way with her. She'll throw temper tantrums, she'll need speech therapy, she'll grow breasts and have pimples, she'll fight with her parents, she'll worry about her weight, she'll put out, she'll have her heart broken, she'll be happy, she'll be lonely, she'll be complicated, she'll be confused, she'll be depressed, she'll fall in love and get married, and she'll have a baby of her own. But right now she is pure and undiminished and beautiful."
"We all start out so damn sure, thinking we've got the world on a string. If we ever stopped to think about the infinite number of ways we could be undone, we'd never leave our bedrooms."
"That's the thing about life; everything feels so permanent, but you can disappear in an instant."
"You never know when it will be the last time you'll see your father, or kiss your wife, or play with your little brother, but there's always a last time. If you could remember every last time, you'd never stop grieving."
"It would be a terrible mistake to go through life thinking that people are the sum total of what you see."
"Rowdy, hopped-up college kids pass us in an endless, noisy blur like they're being mass produced or squeezed out of a tube—guys skulking in their T-shirts and cargo shorts, girls in low-slung jeans and flip-flops, pimples and breasts and tattoos and lipstick and legs and bra straps, and cigarettes; a colorful, sexy melange. I feel old and tired and I just want to be them again, want to be young and stupid, filled with angst and attitude and unbridled lust. Can I have a do-over, please? I swear to God I'll make a real go of it this time."
"Whatever the opposite of a plan is, that's what I've got."
"It's hard to imagine her ever having felt lost, but it's impossible to know the people your parents were before they were your parents."
"We are all smiling in the picture, three brothers having a grand old time just playing around in the living room, no agendas, no buried resentments or permanent scars. Even under the best of circumstances, there's just something so damn tragic about growing up."
I read that last passage out loud to my parents over FaceTime last night, just after I'd finished the book, and my dad's response was, "I disagree with that. My adulthood is much happier than my childhood was." And then he looked at my mom and they shared a smile and my heart broke a little.