By Tom Perrotta
Completed August 4, 2011
Imagine you’re hanging out with a friend or eating dinner with your family – and POOF! They were gone. In Tom Perrotta’s latest book, The Leftovers, he examines this sudden departure of people around the world, who literally disappeared into thin air, and the effects of their disappearance on the loved ones left behind.
The story centers on residents of a small town called Mapleton – a suburban area where kids walked to school and moms baked cookies in aprons. The town was brought to its knees on that fateful October 14. The disappearance of seemingly random people made everyone wonder “why”? Those who believed in Rapture could not understand why they were not taken, while others wondered why God would take people who were not even Christian. And for those left behind, their hearts had voids that no amount of time could fill.
While many characters floated in and out of The Leftovers, the “main” family belonged to Kevin, mayor of Mapleton after the Sudden Departure. Kevin’s family were not affected directly by the disappearances, but one by one, their lives fell apart. Kevin’s wife, Laurie, fled to a cult called “Guilty Remnant” who wore white clothes, smoked cigarettes, stalked potential recruits and took a vow of silence. Kevin’s son, Tom, became involved in another cult, led by a man who believed he could take people’s pain away. And finally, Kevin’s daughter, Jill, just got lost, befriending a bad influence and flunking her classes. It was painful to watch the disintegration of this family as they became lost in their grief.
The Leftovers was a fast-paced novel with a couple unexpected turns. The characters were believable, and my heart ached for their loss. The ending of the novel, though, was a disappointment for me. Without giving it away, let’s just say I didn’t find any of it plausible. I could wrap my brain around people’s disappearances, cults and fake Messiahs, but what Perrotta presented at the end was too much of a stretch for me. I will be curious to know what other readers think.
Despite the ending, The Leftovers would make a fascinating book for discussion. If you’re a fan of Perrotta’s work, then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in his latest, thought-provoking story. ( )
FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.