Reader reviews and comments on The Leftovers, plus links to write your own review.

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The Leftovers

A Novel

By Tom Perrotta

The Leftovers
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • Hardcover: Aug 2011,
    368 pages.
    Paperback: May 2012,
    384 pages.

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There are currently 26 reader reviews for The Leftovers
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Susan S. (Lafayette, CA) (07/10/11)

Another page-turner from Tom Perotta
I love this author. He has the rare gift of being satirical but warm at the same time, with underlying humor that never veers over into parody. His characters feel real. This is perhaps his best book yet, and also his most ambitious. All of his imaginings of the various ways people would react to the dilemma for some and tragedy for others of being the leftovers seemed exactly right, ranging from general hopelessness to outrage to new fanatical cults to resignation. I also liked that he did not try to explain the event, and did not treat it as a religious phenomenon. It was just something that happened with no warning and so – now what? I cannot recommend this book more highly.
Cheryl W. (Cassville, MO) (07/10/11)

The Leftovers
This was a different take on the much written about topic of a rapture-like event. Unlike most books with this theme, the characters continued to live their lives. Each struggled with accepting what had happened and dealt with their losses in their own fashion. There wasn't the usual conflict between good and evil. It was a story of loss and acceptance.
Ann O. (Kansas City, MO) (07/09/11)

An Extraordinary Story
All it took for me to fall in love with Tom Perrotta’s “The Leftovers” were these first two lines: “Laurie Garvey hadn’t been raised to believe in the Rapture. She hadn’t been raised to believe in much of anything, except the foolishness of belief itself.” Perrotta creates instantly believable characters placed in an unbelievable situation and carefully weaves a story that under the pen of any other writer might sound implausible. Last night at 1 a.m., with 30 pages left, I reluctantly headed to bed, but a half hour later, I had to get up and keep reading to find out “what happens” to people I had grown to know and love. Even when I read the last paragraph, I didn’t want it to end. That’s an amazing book!
Kristi E. (Highlands Ranch, CO) (07/09/11)

Compelling Story, Relatable Characters
I found this novel a compelling exploration of how we go on coping (or not) in the face of unfathomable loss. Although the novel is set after millions of people disappear from Earth in the "Sudden Departure," -- a Rapture-like event that is never fully explained -- what Perotta is really writing about is how ordinary people come to terms with loss, loneliness and a world that seems meaningless. He explores many of the same themes as Jonathan Franzen in "Freedom," but with a gentler tone and (I believe) more empathy for his characters. Despite the dramatic event that sets the novel off, this is really a novel of the domestic sphere, where men, women and teens struggle to find meaning and connection in their lives.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, I was not fully satisfied with a couple of the storylines where I felt the characters' motivations and actions (Laurie's, in particular) were not fully plausible. But all in all, The Leftovers is a strongly-written portrayal of highly relatable characters finding their way back to connection.
Brenda D. (Lincoln, CA) (07/07/11)

The Leftovers
How would you react after a Rapture-like event took place and you remained? How would you rebuild your life? Would you be filled with despair or hope? These are just a few of the questions posed in this intriguing, imaginative and intelligent new book. The story is told through one typical family in a small, suburban community. It is filled with honest human emotions. The author doesn’t make judgments or express any particular political or religious view, but lets the events unfold as the characters learn about their loved ones, and more importantly about themselves. One minor issue I had was the author jumps quite often and quickly between characters even within chapters and it does get a little confusing. But overall, I thought it was one of the best books I have read this year.
Celia A. (Takoma Park, MD) (07/05/11)

An apocalypse for the rest of us
The landscape in Tom Perrotta's book is very different from anything I would describe as "post-apocalyptic". In fact, he could be describing suburban America today. I actually found that to be the strength of the book. He didn't try to deal (at least not much) with the theology of the rapture (or Sudden Departure, as he called it). There is a little bit of folks dismissing what happened as not being the "actual" rapture, because they're convinced that when the time comes, of course they'll be one of the ones to disappear and not be a leftover. But, for the most part, Perrotta just takes that event--whatever it really was--as a given. He doesn't really try to explain it. And that's good, because any explanation would fall flat. It's already in the past, and his characters are grappling with the question of how do you go on when so many loved ones have just vanished but everything else is the same as it ever was.
Katherine T. (Atlanta, Georgia) (07/01/11)

The Leftovers
I found this novel a compelling exploration of how we go on coping (or not) in the face of unfathomable loss. Although the novel is set after millions of people disappear from Earth in the "Sudden Departure," -- a Rapture-like event that is never fully explained -- what Perotta is really writing about is how ordinary people come to terms with loss, loneliness and a world that seems meaningless. He explores many of the same themes as Jonathan Franzen in "Freedom," but with a gentler tone and (I believe) more empathy for his characters. Despite the dramatic event that sets the novel off, this is really a novel of the domestic sphere, where men, women and teens struggle to find meaning and connection in their lives.

Although I enjoyed this novel, I was not fully satisfied with a couple of the storylines where I felt the characters' motivations and actions (Laurie's, in particular) were not fully plausible. But all in all, The Leftovers is a strongly-written portrayal of highly relatable characters finding their way back to connection.
Glenn H. (Las Vegas, NV) (07/01/11)

Not your ordinary post apocolyptic story!
I have read many post apocalyptic stories laced with barren landscapes, political decay and human crisis and happily, although unexpectedly, I can note that this is not one of those stories. In fact there is very little reference to these items at all - but enough to frame the story and set an intriguing backdrop. This is a character driven story about the everyday challenges of starting over, albeit starting over in the face of spectacularly peculiar events. It is a story about finding purpose and re-defining perspective and dealing with others as they face the same challenges, often times with startling, sad and unusual results. Not your ordinary post apocalyptic story and so much better because of it!
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