What if the Rapture happened and you got left behind? Or what if it wasn't the Rapture at all, but something murkier, a burst of mysterious, apparently random disappearances that shattered the world in a single moment, dividing history into Before and After, leaving no one unscathed? How would you rebuild your life in the wake of such a devastating event?
This is the question confronting the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a formerly comfortable suburban community that lost over a hundred people in the Sudden Departure. Kevin Garvey, the new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized neighbors, even as his own family falls apart. His wife, Laurie, has left him to enlist in the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence but haunt the streets of town as "living reminders" of God's judgment. His son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet by the name of Holy Wayne. Only his teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she's definitely not the sweet A student she used to be.
Through the prism of a single family, Perrotta illuminates a familiar America made strange by grief and apocalyptic anxiety. The Leftovers is a powerful and deeply moving book about people struggling to hold onto a belief in their own futures.
[Perrotta's] most mature, absorbing novel, one that confirms his development from a funnyman to a daring chronicler of our most profound anxieties and human desires...Leavened with humor and tinged with creepiness, this insightful novel draws us into some very dark corners of the human psyche.
Ever since Little Children, Tom Perrotta has been a master chronicler of suburban ennui, but he takes things to a new level with his wry, insightful, unputdownable novel The Leftovers...Profoundly entertaining...The Leftovers brims with joy, hilarity, tenderness and hope.
Chicago Sun Times
The novel intertwines...stories at a graceful pace in prose so affable that the pages keep turning without hesitation. With Perrotta at the controls, you buy the set-up and sit back as he takes off.
Perrotta combines absurd circumstance and authentic characters to wondrous effect, turning his story into a vivid exploration of what we believe, what matters most, and how, if untethered, we move on…Perrotta treats his characters with sympathy and invites the reader to do the same.
In his provocative new novel Tom Perrotta dives straight into our unease…it’s a gentle, Perrotta-esque go at sci-fi, without any mangled bodies or bombed-out buildings; it’s a realistic novel built on a supernatural foundation.
O, The Oprah Magazine
Start with what the author calls a Rapture-like phenomenon, mix in some suburban angst, and poof: All other apocalyptic fiction gets blown away.
Though all the ennui is surely the point, the end of the world isn't much fun.
Perrotta brings to his sixth novel his gifts for satiric humor and compassion, ultimately depicting the universal feelings of people reacting to severe trauma, yet the book doesn’t quite live up to the promise of its intriguing premise.
Starred Review. Though the tone is more comic than tragic, it is mainly empathic, never drawing a distinction between "good" and "bad" characters, but recognizing all as merely human.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Lori Skip this one I was very disappointed in this book. I thought the characters weren't developed well enough, and I found myself not caring what happened to them. There were some interesting concepts developed, but very little follow-through. Based on the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Sheila (IN) Leftovers This is the kind of book you will recommend to your friends, just so you can talk about it with them. This is a perfect book for book discussion groups.
Rated of 5
by Julie Z. (Bennington, VT) The Leftovers--great for a book group Having read Tom Perotta's Little Children, I knew this would be another slice of suburban life. However, this is not ordinary life. It's life in the aftermath of a worldwide "disappearing", or rapture, of a large number of the worlds' population.... Read More
Rated of 5
by Mary B. (Vernon Hills, IL) Hopefully not "Leftover" on the remainder shelves I had previously read Little Children by the same author. I really enjoyed the style, structure, themes and was looking for something else by him. The concept on this one sounded great. A possible Rapture occurs in which a number of people... Read More
Rated of 5
by Sarah H. (Arvada, CO) Surprised Twice I did not realize this author's work was considered "christian fiction" yet was pleasantly surprised by the accessible and universal themes and a writing style that allowed the story to feel organic and readable. The creativity of using the... Read More
Rated of 5
by Darcy C. (San Diego, CA) The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta To start this review, I want to state that I am a huge Perrotta fan. I wanted to love this book as I have his previous books, but hard as I tried -- this book did not "do it" for me. It wasn't a bad book by any means, but Perrotta has set a... Read More
A Visit from the Goon Squad is a book about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. Sly, startling, exhilarating work from one of our boldest writers.
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