When I read my first Jonathan Tropper novel, This is Where I Leave You, I was in love. It was the first time in a long time that both a book and it’s author made an impression on me. I read plenty of enjoyable books, but it’s rare to find an author whose works I consistently enjoy (for the record, I also love John Green and Emily Giffin). There was a potential there for me, and, after reading The Book of Joe, my 3rd Tropper novel (I’m not reading in order of publication, just as a heads up), I can honestly say I am in love with Tropper’s writing.
The Book of Joe was just excellent. I found it hard to explain while reading it, so I’ll attempt a brief summary. Joe Goffman grew up in the town of Bush Falls, Connecticut. Before he turned 13, his mother killed herself by jumping off the cliff at the falls. From that moment on, he has felt supremely disconnected from his father and brother. A series of unfortunate and frustrating events occur during his senior year in high school which cause him to leave Bush Falls, estranging himself from his family and his past. He writes a book about his experiences (deeming it fiction, but everyone in Bush Falls knows better) that becomes a best seller and a hit movie. He quickly becomes a household name, but the people of his hometown are less than thrilled with it. Joe is fine with never returning to Bush Falls (as are the townspeople) again if given the chance, but his father suffers a stroke, and it leads him back home, where he isn’t exactly welcome.
I loved this book. I laughed, I cried. And that seems to be the going theme with Tropper’s novels. Of the three books I’ve read, there are a lot of similar themes…coming of age, self-discovery, death, family, love. I never feel like I’m reading the same book, though. And, while it may seem easy enough to gather what will happen and predict the events, Tropper always seems to keep you surprised and wanting more.
I highly recommend this novel. I highly recommend all three of the books I’ve read, and hopefully the other three I have yet to read.