The Leftovers

Book Number: 33
Title: The Leftovers
Author: Tom Perrotta

Barnes and Noble Synopsis: 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.

With heart, intelligence and a rare ability to illuminate the struggles inherent in ordinary lives, Tom Perrotta has written a startling, thought-provoking novel about love, connection and loss.

My Thoughts: When I was a junior in high school, I attended a summer get together at one of the local churches. It was a good opportunity to see my friends. The first couple of weeks were fun. I think we played games and sang songs and hung out with our friends. On the third week, the minister said he was going to show us a scary movie. I was picturing something like Halloween. It was a movie about people left behind after The Rapture. There were two factions: one group was taking over and was bad. The other was made up of people who had Accepted Jesus As Their Personal Savior. The movie ended with our main character, who wasn’t sure where she stood, committing to Christianity. The Bad People were lining the Christians up and killing them. The last scene of the movie was a guillotine blade coming down. Born Again Christian propaganda — sure, I can see that now. Then, it scared the crap out of me. And it birthed my fascination with The Rapture and other post-apocalyptic stories.

So, naturally, I loved The Leftovers. The characters cope with their loved ones being missing in a variety of ways: avoidance, indifference, depression, and joining cults. I thought the author’s cults were tremendously creative (and not that far out of reality as to what could happen). The ending is ambiguous, but I chose to find it hopeful.

Note: I’ve read these books for Bookalicious Babe’s 100 Book Challenge for 2011.

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