Study Guide

This Is Where I Leave You What's Up With the Ending?

By Jonathan Tropper

What's Up With the Ending?

With the shiva over, Judd is forced to face reality—a reality that's different than it was a week ago. He's learned a lot in just seven days, and there have been some major changes in his personal life. Jen, pregnant with Judd's daughter, is no longer in a relationship with Wade. Judd has rekindled his relationship with his high school flame, Penny.

The novel closes with Judd in the front seat of Phillip's Porsche, mulling his options. There are three places he's thinking about heading: Jen's home, Penny's house, or Maine.

Let's look at the what each of these choices means for Judd:

  • Jen - If Judd decides to go straight to Jen's home, it represents their reconciliation. In many ways, this would signal growing maturity within Judd. Even if they don't work out as a couple, a solid relationship with Jen would be good for their daughter.
  • Penny - Let's be honest—Judd probably won't end up with Penny. He thinks she's cute and he's fond of her or whatever, but he never seems to completely fall for her. In fact, because Penny is associated with young love, Judd's decision to return to Penny could be seen as a step backwards.
  • Maine - This is a reference to the opening chapters of the novel. After learning about Jen's affair, Judd sits alone in his car, trying to figure out what to do next. He imagines driving to Maine to "find a small seaside town, rent a little house, and start over" (3.85). For Judd, Maine represents a fresh start.

Ultimately, Judd sets the GPS to Maine and decides to figure things out in the morning.

Sure, you could say that he's just putting off his choice for another day—and you'd be right. On the other hand, you could also say that Judd's choice shows that he's learned to embrace his own lack of control. That doesn't mean that he's not going to end up with Jen. It just means that, if he does, it'll be for the right reasons.

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