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Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

by:  Tom Perrotta
published by:  St. Martin's Press
publish date:  August 30, 2011

What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down?

That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.

Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin’s own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne. Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be. Kevin wants to help her, but he’s distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.

On one hand I really enjoyed this book, but on the other I found it to be really aggravating.  I liked the premise of a "Rapture" and what happens to those of us left behind.  If you've read the Left Behind series, this book is NOTHING like that.  I found myself frustrated with the lack of explanation behind the actions of some of the characters and at the abrupt ending.

In the wake of an event like the Rapture, I can understand how a group like the Guilty Remnant could crop up.  People who are feeling lost drifting together and uniting in their pain, that's understandable.  I never understood Laurie's motivation for joining.  I didn't understand her staying when she clearly wanted to go back home.  Furthermore, what was the Guilty Remnant doing towards the end of the book?  What was their reasoning for moving people to the Outpost House?  Why were the residents there given the orders they were?  I didn't make any sense to me.

The Leftovers was an interesting book and, to me, a thought-provoking one as well.  I listened to the audiobook and felt it was well done.  Just be prepared for an ending that I felt was not cleanly wrapped up.

1 comment:

Susan Bennett said...

What a fantastic cover.