BOOK REVIEW: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

The Leftovers by Tom PerrottaThe Leftovers
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.


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. BermudaOnion
    Aug 06, 2011 @ 04:55:37

    This sounds good even with the less than perfect ending.


  2. Amy
    Aug 06, 2011 @ 05:06:56

    I like Perrotta’s work and have been wondering about this book because it sounded a little different than his usual fare. It sounds really interesting. Too bad about the ending but I’m thrilled you felt the book merits high praise despite the ending. I’m putting this book on my tbr list!


    • mrstreme
      Aug 06, 2011 @ 05:22:23

      I have only read another of one Perrotta’s novel, The Abstinence Teacher, which I was not thrilled with the ending either. LOL, must be something about his novels. But definitely worth the read!


  3. Ally
    Aug 06, 2011 @ 16:40:54

    Added it to my wish list 🙂 It seems very interesting!


  4. BuriedInPrint
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 04:26:04

    I’ve intended to read something of his for ages, but just haven’t made it there yet. The way you’ve described this one makes it sound particularly interesting though: thanks for the review!


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