The leftovers

by Tom Perrotta

Hardcover, 2011




New York : St. Martin's Press, 2011.


When a bizarre phenomenon causes the cataclysmic disappearances of numerous people all over the world, Kevin Garvey, the new mayor of a once-comfortable suburban community, struggles to help his neighbors heal while enduring the fanatical religious conversions of his wife and son.

Media reviews

One might argue that The Leftovers is missing the details of the Sudden Departure that provide the book’s premise, but that is irrelevant to Perrotta’s purpose. In a post-9/11, post-economic-collapse world, we do not require an apocalyptic event to underwrite the plausibility of sudden, catastrophic change. Perrotta’s true interests — and the novel’s rich gifts — lie in exploring the way that traditional suburban structures of meaning fail to cohere under the pressure of such changes
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Perrotta suggests that in times of real trouble, extremism trumps logic and dialogue becomes meaningless. Read as a metaphor for the social and political splintering of American society after 9/11, it’s a chillingly accurate diagnosis.
It is the portions of “The Leftovers” where Mr. Perrotta avoids the more cartoony and melodramatic aspects of his story (having to do with the Sudden Departure and the Guilty Remnant) that are by far the most persuasive. And it is these same sections that showcase his gifts as a novelist: his talent for depicting the ordinary (as opposed to metaphoric or supernatural); his affectionate but astringent understanding of his characters and their imperfections; his appreciation of the dark undertow of loss that lurks beneath the familiar, glossy surface of suburban life.

User reviews

LibraryThing member gecizzle
Boring as shit. You'd think that a book about the aftermath of the Rapture would be an interesting read. Especially one that now has its own fucking HBO series based on the book. But no. It's boring as shit. So is the HBO show. I tried watching it. Watched a couple episodes and said "Fuck this noise! This is bullshit." Because the story is just so retarded. I mean, there's little to no conflict in this fucking book. Which is just stupid, because, damn... The Rapture just happened, people! Fucking freak out, man. What the fuck. Go crazy. Shoot someone. Do something, for fuck's sake.

But no, the story just blathers on about nothing. Just regular suburban Real Housewives of bullshit. I just can't take it anymore. So, fuck "The Leftovers" in its dirty asshole. Because, its bad, and it should feel bad.
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LibraryThing member queencersei
What would happen to the world if the biblical Rapture were to suddenly happen, and millions of people around the world were to simply vanish? What if the millions of disappeared represented every type of religion, country, age and personality? What if you truly believed in the Rapture, but were left behind while your less then righteous neighbor was chosen instead? What would happen to those of faith left behind? What new religions or cults would spring up to explain these events to the devastated billions who were left behind? How would humanity cope?

The author attempts to answer such questions by focusing on several survivors in the small town of Mapleton. Struggling with the feelings of loss and guilt, the various characters try to make sense of the inexplicable. The author doesn't take the easy out of answering what happened to those who were taken. There are no happy reunions here. But that just makes the novel all the more powerful and real. The truth is that after such an event there would be plenty of people who would freak out, mass depression, new beliefs to try and explain it all and a whole lot of other people just determined to get on with their lives. The Leftovers isn't a happy go lucky story, but it is certainly a unique one and worth the read.
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LibraryThing member mrstreme
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.
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LibraryThing member brainchild138
I thought I was going to read a book about people dealing with the aftereffects of the rapture. Instead I read a book about people dealing with relationships. Some of those relationships had to do with cults that sprung up after the rapture, but pretty much all of this book could be done without the rapture happening in the first few pages.… (more)
LibraryThing member BeckyJG
So, the Rapture. It's been predicted a bunch of times throughout Christian history, most recently--and very spectacularly, with radio spots and billboards in Spanish and English all over the country--by California radio evangelist Harold Camping, who predicted that most of us would be left behind on May 21, 2011 and then, when that date came and went, on October 21 of the same year. Needless to say, that hasn't happened. But it's a fascinating concept that has captivated religious and irreligious alike for hundreds of years. There's even a long-running series of supernatural thrillers by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins which is set among those not taken up. The Left Behind books scare the bejesus, if you'll pardon the expression, out of people, and are wildly popular.

Tom Perrotta's latest book The Leftovers tackles the Rapture--or, to be more accurate, the sociological and psychological effects of a "Rapture-like phenomenon"--with both mordant wit and generosity of spirit. As the book opens the world is still reeling from what is being called the "Sudden Departure," which saw millions of people around the world disappear from dinner tables and airplanes, classrooms and bedrooms and offices, all at the same moment. The world is still reeling, and people are still scratching their heads at the meaning of the event, which doesn't appear to have come from a religious place of reward and punishment, as those taken came from all faiths, and even included unbelievers.

Society as a whole has coped as well as can be expected. Leaders secular and religious have sought a cause or a reason for the event. Many have lost their faith. Cults have arisen, and two, the Guilty Remnant and the Healing Hug Movement, will play an important role in the lives of the Garveys, the family at the center of The Leftovers. The Guilty Remnant, or GR, is a group the mission of which is to remind those who remain that the end really is nigh, and that the way to reserve a place on the next elevator up is to take a vow of silence and mortify the flesh to assure one's readiness and purity. The GR dress in white and are never seen in public without a cigarette (a visible reminder that the physical self is the least important aspect of the person). The Healing Huggers follow a charismatic who calls himself Holy Wayne and who can take on an individual's spiritual pain, if only temporarily, through his hugs.

Each member of the Garvey family has dealt with the Sudden Departure differently. Father Kevin, who was elected mayor of the small town of Mapleton not long after the event, strives for normality. Kevin is relentlessly cheerful. He makes omelets for daughter Jill and her friend Aimee, arranges for an anniversary parade remembering those who were taken, waits for wife Laurie to come to her senses and return to him. Laurie has joined the Guilty Remnant, and can be seen around town dressed in white, smoking, and staring relentlessly at those targeted by her group for...censure? recruitment? judgement? It's never entirely clear. Elder child Tom left college to join Holy Wayne's entourage, and is now on the run from the scandal that has brought the cult down. And Jill, the younger child, just runs wild. She's shaved her head, smokes dope in the morning, cuts classes.

As in his previous novels (most recently Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher), Tom Perrotta manages both to skewer contemporary suburban sensibilities and to treat them with an achingly beautiful sensitivity. His characters, while as bristly, self-centered, and annoying as they come, are at the same time real and rich, and so well-rounded I identified with each in turn. I frequently found myself wondering as I read what form my dealing would take, were I to be in the position of the left behind. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I'd join a cult. But a fun one.
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LibraryThing member techeditor
THE LEFTOVERS is about the lives of people in one small town after millions of people all over the world suddenly disappeared. Many people think it was "the rapture," the belief among some Christian religions that all Christian believers will rise into the sky and join Christ before the end of the world. Rather than "the rapture," others call this the "sudden departure" because the phenomenon was random, i.e., it involved non-Christians as well as Christians.

The town is full of different reactions: cults develop and some people join them. Others are full of guilt or are upset because they, too, were not taken. One woman in town lost her entire family, and she sometimes seems to be the most confused of all. Many people in the town, people like Kevin, the Mayor, and his daughter Jill, have not decided what happened, but they want to get back to their lives as they were before. They have varying degrees of success.

This is a thought-provoking book. If I lost someone like this, if they just up and disappeared, would I figure they were gone forever? Or would I keep the faith that they might come back, that they could suddenly reappear just as they suddenly disappeared?

I did not want THE LEFTOVERS to end. Even so, I've decided that it's a 4-star novel, not 5. Why?

Although its observations about the human condition, all the possible reactions to life-changing events, is well written and right on, although this book is a page turner, it didn't grab me the way 5-star novels have. It kept me expecting something more.
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LibraryThing member CasualFriday
The Leftovers are those left behind when many people on the planet are abruptly disappeared. It sounds like the Rapture, but the disappearances are random - Greta Van Susteren, Adam Sandler and the Pope are among the missing celebrities. Nevertheless, those remaining are prompted to make religious sense out of it all, and various oddball cults spring up to help people cope.

This book was very strange, and I mostly didn't like it. I get that the Sudden Disappearance was not really the point of the book, but when you use a plot device that dramatic, you owe the reader a little meat: the impact on the world economy, on war, on media, etc. Inside, the book focuses on the white-bread residents of an excruciatingly banal suburban town, and their - I'm sorry - boring little dramas.

If someone decided to write a parody of what a post-apocalyptic novel would be like if Tom Perrotta wrote it, they might come up with this. Somebody please tell me what I'm missing.
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LibraryThing member SamSattler
Imagine that something very much like the traditional Christian concept of The Rapture has suddenly occurred and that millions of people have disappeared. This is the jumping off point for Tom Perrotta’s rather cleverly titled new novel, The Leftovers.

Much to the surprise of some of the true believers (many of whom are already a little ticked about being delegated to Leftover status), the chosen ones include Jews, Moslems, Hindus, Christians, and members of every other imaginable religion - even a considerable number of hedonistic non-believers known to have thoroughly enjoyed their time in this world. That it all seems to have been so random is, in fact, the most difficult part of the experience for some to understand.

Some disappeared from elevators as they moved between floors, some from living room couches while in the middle of conversations with friends, and others from their chairs as they consumed what would be their final meals. Some families lost fathers, some lost mothers, and some lost a child or two. Others were shocked to become the only Leftover in their immediate family. Amazingly enough, however, life would soon resume its normal rhythms while the Leftovers sought their own ways to cope with their losses.

The Leftovers, which begins three years after the big event, centers itself on the Garvey family: Kevin, who becomes Mapleton’s new mayor; his wife, Laura, who joins the Guilty Remnant cult; Tom, their son who becomes part of Holy Wayne’s Healing Hug movement; and teenaged Jill who still lives at home with her father. The Guilty Remnant bunch and the Healing Hug movement, though they are very different types of cults, are two of the mechanisms through which people try to cope with what has happened. That even a family like the Garveys, one of the lucky ones to remain whole after the supposed Rapture experience, is tested beyond its breaking point illustrates the emotional severity of what has happened around the world.

This is a book about coping and healing. Some turn inward, some to cults, some to family and friends; others ignore it all or become suicidal. As Tom Perrotta mentioned at the Texas Book Festival in October, 2011, his book is set during the “seven-year period of Tribulation after the Rapture” and he wonders if “anyone would even remember the rapture three years later.” This is the question that, with the help of his fictional Garvey family, he explores in The Leftovers.

However, for reasons difficult to explain, The Leftovers is a surprisingly flat reading experience. None of the book’s main characters, other than perhaps Kevin Garvey, are particularly appealing and the book, by spending so much time with its two weird cults, seems to gloss over the magnitude of the loss so many ordinary people would have experienced. One cannot help but feel that The Leftovers could have packed a more profound emotional clout than it does – meaning that the book, for many readers, will be a disappointing near miss.

Rated at: 3.0
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LibraryThing member Serenity_Tigerlily
The premise for The Leftovers was a definite attention grabber. Who wouldn't want to read a book about a supposed rapture? I desperately wanted to know what happened to those left behind— how would they cope. Apparently in various stereotypical ways: cults, drugs, running away, pretending everything is as normal as it ever was, etc. They all seemed plausible to me just not unique; even with Holy Wayne and the Guilty Remnant. All I could think was, Of course cults are going to pop up. Of course people are going to want to make things how they were before.

As bizarre as this book could have been... it simply wasn't. In a way it felt like I was just reading a suburban family novel. Not something that's as peculiar as the rapture. There wasn't any attention grabbing, holy-shit-what-just-happened action or dramatic, gut-wrenching, cry-your-eyes-out scenes. It was very unremarkable. Even when the G.R members start being murdered it was uneventful.

There were a lot of different ways that this book could have went especially since we were given many different characters. Yet, everything seemed ordinary and monotonous. I felt like the characters never really changed or grew from who they were in the beginning.

I really wanted to love The Leftovers, but it’s just one of those books where you love the premise and everything that it could have been only to be let down by the story itself.
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LibraryThing member mikemillertime
The latest edition of this book has a blurb from Stephen King proclaiming this "the greatest Twilight Zone you never saw." Well, King must not have seen many Twilight Zones, because I have never disagreed more with a comment in my life. That remark is a stunningly inaccurate description of this story that may begin with a simple and intriguing Rapture-like mass disappearance, but then languidly slogs its way through a cliched and formulaic plot surrounding the various plights and travails of a hodgepodge of survivors. The author really has no interest in exploring the ideas or significance of this supernatural phenomenon; rather, the device affords him the opportunity to explore the banal horrors of suburban existence where all of his characters can be damaged and wounded alike in their suffering. The book makes little effort to dilute the grim story with any levity or parable, but instead is a sadistic exercise in exploring the traditional tropes of disappointment with modern living. Everything from yearning, emptiness, boredom, abandonment, unrequited love, family dysfunction, consumerism, etc. must obviously be even more heavy-handed and serious when set against the backdrop of the apocalypse. Even many of the book's imagery and observations seem trite and stale, for the many moments and dialog involving these characters are truly the contrived imaginings from an academic's take on what suburban life must be like for the average American, with nothing really as vivid, complex and true as in real life. For its would-be depth and insight, this book is even more woefully misdirected and forgettable. Sci-fi fans, stay away; this one is NOT for you.… (more)
LibraryThing member johnluiz
Another fabulous novel from Tom Perrotta. It's a wonderful premise - people living in the aftermath of the Rapture, but what's surprising for those left behind is that the world isn't that different from what it was before. What's different is the way the trauma of losing loved ones and closed friends affects them. Perrotta sets the story 3 years after the event, when life has gone back to normal - for some at least - and they're still struggling to make sense of it all. He shifts perspective between the four key members of a family. The father, Kevin, has become mayor of the town and is struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy for everyone. His wife, Laurie, has joined a group called the Guilty Remnant, who don't speak, wear all white clothes, smoke constantly and follow people around trying to make sure no one forgets the horrible day and that a second day of reckoning may be coming. His daughter, Jill, a former honor student, has given up on school and taken up with a fast group of kids who play promiscuous sexual games. His son, Tom, has run off and joined the Healing Hug movement and then discovers its charismatic leader, who promises he can absorb other people's pain with the power of his hugs, turns out to be just another preacher with a messianic complex and an appetite for sex with teenage girls. The other key character is a broken woman who lost her husband and young son and daughter. She's so devastated, she's not sure she'll ever be whole again. It's a fascinating read. Even if you're not religious, it gets you thinking about how we all are collectively blown away by, and then gradually become inured to, major traumas like 9/11. The mother's storyline, though, offers a harrowing portrait of how horribly self-deluded we can become in an effort to have the world's tragedies make sense. Alongside all this "deep-thoughts" stuff is Perrotta's trademark humor. He doesn't write joke lines, just insightful observations and little details that surprise. I found it particularly funny which celebrities he decided would be chosen by God on this fateful days - the Chosen Ones include John Mellencamp, Jennifer Lopez and Vladimir Putin of all people. (Stephen King's review of the book in The New York Times captures it far better than I can. Not surprisingly, given the source, it's probably the best book review I've ever read. It gives the essence of the book without giving anything away, highlights all of its provocative thoughts, and gives samples of the writing to whet your appetite without any of the snarkiness authors have come to loathe in book reviews.)

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LibraryThing member mazeway
Not a whole lot happens, but it happens to a whole lot of people. The Rapture, or something very like it, has occurred, but the folks taken weren't the ones everyone expected. It seems to have been a very random culling. We follow at least five characters closely and many more as second-tier characters as they try to deal with the aftermath of the occurrence. Perrotta's characters are very well drawn and mostly very likable. The dialog is snappy and real. But, um, not much happens. Each character has a small arc of growth, tidy and self-contained. On some level, it's very interesting that it's such a small book about such a huge topic. But on the other hand, it got kind of dull for a bit. The middle third is a bit ploddy. I'm not sad I read it, I enjoyed it, but I probably wouldn't recommend it.… (more)
LibraryThing member stacey2112
2.5 for reals. I thought this was a wasted idea, a rapture-like event that is never really addressed, (spoiler?) simply used as a starting point to the story of several people's intertwined lives. The author describes it as a comic post apocolyptic novel, but I found the humour slight, the characters shallow and annoying, and the endless details of their everyday existence pretty damn boring. Super trite ending, too. But, it made you think, at least.… (more)
LibraryThing member Beamis12
Have to say I was a little disappointed in this book. I do love his writing and the premise sounded very interesting, but he did not take full advantage of this plot. Al though I found some of the characters interesting, in particular Nora and Kevin, the book tended to drone on. I found I just didn't really care about most of them.… (more)
LibraryThing member debnance
Here’s an especially compelling idea for a book: A Rapture-like event occurs and millions of people disappear from the earth. What happens to those who are left behind, the leftovers? And what were the stories of those who disappeared?

This is the basic plot behind Tom Perrotta’s book, The Leftovers.

Have you ever read a book like Arthur Hailey’s Airport, with an enormous cast of characters and lots of action? A book that feels like a strange combination of a soap opera and an action movie. That’s what The Leftovers reminded me of. It’s full of women running around on their men and men running around on their women, and men double-crossing other men, and women ranting about other women. There is also this odd angst and anomie that hangs over the characters, a sense of what-do-we-do-now, that has characters abandoning their spouses and leaving home to join strange cults.

Thank you to the publisher who provided this copy for review.
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LibraryThing member traciragas
I always like Perrotta's books. They are good reminder that even the people that seemingly have everything can still be unhappy. Granted, this wasn't totally the case in The Leftovers, since it deals with a rather weighty issue similar to the Rapture, but called the Sudden Departure. It is told from the perspective of people in a small town that were particularly affected.

In this small town, everyone was touched in some way by the Sudden Departure. Each character though faces different challenges. I think that's what I found the most interesting; was how each person reacted to this life changing event. Some question their faith, some ignore the question all together and others just go on living (albeit lives that are seriously different).

This book was scary, curious and introspective. I always look Tom Perrotta and this book certainly ranks among his best (though I say that about all his books).
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LibraryThing member TerryHawkins
Tom Perrotta has made his mark with closely-observed and increasingly dark examinations of modern middle-class America. In The Leftovers he brings the same tools to the same subject-----after a supernatural catastrophe. Something like John Cheever taking on alien abductions. Pretty ballsy, right? And even better, it works. Really, really well.
The book is set after the Rapture. Or something like it. Millions have simultaneously disappeared, just as foretold in Revelation and eagerly awaited by the credulous. Except that lots----maybe most----of the vanished don’t seem to be particularly good Christians. Or Christian. Or good. Which causes a lot of what might be called cognitive dissonance in the Left Behind. Some----the Guilty Remnant cult---persist in the belief that the End Is Nigh and offer chain-smoking, silent reproach to their neighbors’ heedlessness. Another, furious that he didn’t get disappeared himself, publishes a tabloid exposing the secret sins of those who were. But others still try to get on with life as though nothing had happened, isolating the inexplicable in “the same place you hid the knowledge that you were going to die, so you could live your life without being depressed every minute of every day.” The principal characters include both the shattered and the merely shaken, and their painful and funny relationships drive much of the action. But in keeping with his gathering darkness, Perrotta’s narrative takes several unexpected, violent turns before ending on a note of cautious hope.
The author makes several interesting choices. First is to set the story several years after what he calls the Sudden Departure. For this reason the book revolves not around the singular event----which would suck all the oxygen out of the room---- but its human consequences. Second, he describes the Departure itself only peripherally. Those who’ve actually “witnessed” a disappearance seem to have looked away for a split second, or left the room for a glass of water, when the event occurred. Though in one memorable instance the witness is a young woman doing a reverse cowgirl on a frat boy when he’s called to Jesus----and even then, she wouldn’t have been facing him, would she? The cumulative effect of these decisions is to keep what is clearly the most astonishing event in history from overwhelming the story Perrotta wants to tell.
A novel whose animating idea is so audacious could easily have degenerated into slapstick or spookery. In Perrotta’s hands it is funny, humane, and deeply moving. This is an extraordinary book by an extraordinary writer.
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LibraryThing member Jenners26
One of my favorite authors, Tom Perrotta, is back with a new novel. Once again, he offers spot-on observations of life in suburbia. What differs this time around is that the suburbanites in this book are the “leftovers”—those left behind by a Rapture-like event called the Sudden Departure.

The Sudden Departure—which disappeared millions around the world—leaves those left behind feeling bewildered, lost, angry, confused and searching for answers. The diverse responses of the “leftovers” are illustrated by the residents of the small town of Mapleton.

For Laurie Garvey, the confusion and emotions of the Sudden Departure prompt her to join the Guilty Remnant (G.R.)—a cult-like group whose members take vows of silence, live communally, smoke continuously and stalk members of the local community.

Laurie’s decision to leave home and join the G.R. leaves her husband Kevin and her teenage daughter Jill at loose ends. Kevin—who feels that the only sane reaction to the Sudden Departure is to continue living as normally as possible—finds meaning and solace in his role as Mapleton’s mayor. Jill—cast adrift in the confusing world of high school and young womanhood without the guiding hand of her mother—seeks answers by running with the fast crowd.

Although he’d already left for college before the Sudden Departure, Tom Garvey finds himself drifting and searching for answers until he falls in with a charismatic preacher named Holy Wayne. However, recent scandals swirling around Wayne are causing Tom to question his purpose and direction in life.

In addition to chronicling the lives of the Garvey family, we’re also introduced to Nora Durst—a Mapleton resident who lost her husband and children in the Sudden Departure and faces an odd sort of widowhood. Viewed as a tragic hero, Nora clings to the past while trying valiantly to figure out how to continue living a meaningful life.

As the events of the book unfold, Perrotta offers up a satisfying mix of humor, sadness and detail that makes his characters come alive. Although my initial thrill was in finding out how Perrotta would explore a Rapture-like event, I quickly got absorbed in the lives of the characters and their emotional journeys. Although the Sudden Departure is a great hook, The Leftovers is still grounded in the realities of suburban life that Perrotta explored so brilliantly in his books Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher.

I loved this book! Whenever I was reading, everything disappeared and I was completely inside the story. What I love most about Perrotta’s writing is that he fills his stories with little details that make everything feel so authentic and real. His characters feel like people who live in my little section of suburbia. In other words, his writing rings true. So despite a premise that seems fantastical and “out there,” The Leftovers ends up feeling grounded and relevant to our lives right now. I encourage you to check it out. It was one of the most interesting and involving books I’ve read this year.
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LibraryThing member justmelissa
What if the rapture happened, but took all the wrong people? Instead of the pious and saved, those gone seem much more randomly selected: the neighbor you couldn't stand, your son's flighty soccer coach, your nosy mother, or even your entire family. How would you feel? Guilty? Angry? Lonely? Lost? Shattered? Lucky?

In his newest book, Tom Perrotta examines the lives of residents of an upscale, small, suburban community as they come to terms with a post-rapture world. Perrotta captures the full range of reactions over the three years post-event including those who seek solace in organized groups (cults?), the previously-religious who had been certain of their salvation and who now find themselves lost, and those who are simply trying their best to carry on. The Leftovers is a great study in group dynamics and society building. In turn heartbreaking and hopeful, The Leftovers is a thoughtful examination of what life would be like for those of us left behind.… (more)
LibraryThing member jo-jo
What an interesting book this was that sets us in a town after a portion of it's citizens have disappeared. The people that were left behind struggle with reasons as to why they weren't taken and where exactly the missing people went. They were here one second and gone the next...but gone where?

Kevin is the mayor of Mapleton and although his family weathered the Sudden Departure, it definitely left them all broken in their own way. Kevin's wife Laurie does not think that the way they are living is benefiting society, so she joins a group that believes they are fulfilling a greater purpose. His son Tom was in college when the Departure took place, so after losing half of his classmates to this event, he withdrew from school to follow an odd character who also thought had all the answers. Kevin's high school daughter Jill still lives at home, along with her best friend that moved in, but high school has been elevated to a new level since the Departure.

We follow all of these characters lives throughout the novel, as we get a closer look at their hopes and fears. They are all trying to move on with their lives, but find themselves stalled as there is so much uncertainty in the world where they live. Half of the population is gone and who is to say that the rest of us won't be gone tomorrow?

There is so much to contemplate within this novel and I really feel that I shouldn't disclose any more about it that would ruin the story for you. I love stories that make me stop and think, "How would I react in this situation?" That is the type of book this is and the narrator did a great job of keeping the listener's attention. With themes of end times, forgiveness, love and redemption, this book will give the reader or listener plenty to ponder long after you have turned the last page or listened to the last track.
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LibraryThing member autumnblues
An intriguing tale of a town instantaneously altered into another dimension.

The Leftovers is quite a unique book and totally fiction. Or is it? Although, some of what would happen if a number of people would just disappear off the face of the Earth all at once, is totally logical, some we can never know. Planes would crash, accidents on our roadways would be instant, empty seats in the classrooms and so forth. But what exactly would happen emotionally, to those left behind, after such a tragedy? Perrotta has taken this situation and brought it to life in "The Leftovers." By focusing on a few families in the community of Mapleton, one of which includes the family of the mayor, Kevin Garvey. Perrotta begins the story after the vanishing. Although it has been almost a year, wounds are still fresh for many in this small community. Others have gone back to their daily routines, including married men and women dating as if nothing had happened to their spouse. Their disapproval of this being one main reason why the Guilty Remnant has come into being. The Guilty Remnant is a cult that has recruited many since the vanishing occurred, and Laurie the mayors wife, is now one of their followers. Laurie seems to have regrets for leaving her family behind, yet she is not intending on going back, even though she is free to return anytime. In the meantime Kevin tries to lead a life that is as normal as possible, even if that means returning to the dating scene, now that his wife has deserted him. While Jill, the daughter of the mayor longs for her mother, she continues with school and hanging out with her regular group of friends. But since the vanishing her friend Amie has taken up residency in her home. Why not, they have the room now, with her mother in the cult and her brother Tom off in another direction. Tom finds he is not being able to emotionally return to his normal college routine, and decides to follow a prophet called Holy Wayne. There, Tom soon learns Wayne isn't as holy as he first thought him to be. Other characters join the mix, including Nora, the only person in the community who has lost her entire family to the vanishing. Nora finds out, after the vanishing, that her husband wasn't as dedicated to their marriage as she thought. While a former priest and member of the community decides he has the right to air the dirty laundry of those who have vanished. It took me a little while to get into this tale, maybe because it seems like such a far fetched story. I have heard of the Rapture and have read about how many Christians believe it will come to pass in this lifetime. However in The Leftovers, some of those who vanished came from all sorts of backgrounds, some where cheating husbands, others didn't believe in God, causing those left behind to question the reasons why this had happened, while trying to make sense out of it. As a reader I tried to figure out myself why those taken might have been taken, even though this is fiction it is quite thought provoking. This story reminded me of the Twilight Zone TV series or something Steven King would write. Certainly entertainment from another dimension and time, maybe even our future.… (more)
LibraryThing member GCPLreader
This was a curious book. It's not quite speculative fiction, not quite dystopian. The author just states that 3 years before, thousands just up and vanished in an event that became known as the Sudden Departure. There's no rhyme or reason to their disappearance. These weren't the "Faithful" as Christians are taught to believe. The novel simply deals with those left behind and how they survive the loss.

The author captures American suburbia perfectly. I love how he shows the not-quite-right creepiness of the new order of things. But perhaps I was looking for a stronger emotional connection to the characters and I didn't feel that all of it worked. Good in a thought-provoking kind of way, though.
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LibraryThing member Alana01
This is the first of Tom Perrotta's books I have read, and I found it absolutely mesmerizing. No need to summarize the plot: others have done that for me. While some have found the ending unbelievable, I found it truly satisfying--even to the last sentence, a much-appreciated note of hope in a funny, compelling, and, at times, heart-breaking story.… (more)
LibraryThing member AnthonySchmitz
This is a great, head-smacking, why-didn't-I-think-of-that premise for a novel — that the righteous and apparently wicked would be equally snatched in The Rapture, and that there would be a lot of second guessing among those left behind. The writing itself seems somewhat removed, I thought, as if the craziness below were observed from the treetops.… (more)
LibraryThing member julie10reads
From a New York Times interview about The Leftovers:“I have led a fairly charmed life, but I’m 50 years old,” Mr. Perrotta said. “You know, you just watch people leave the world, and you get this sense of living among absences. So I think it was a kind of a midlife book.”

Here’s the premise: millions of people around the world have disappeared at the same time in a Rapture-like event. How does this affect those who are left behind?

The novel begins three years after the mass disappearances and we see how citizens of a small town, Mapleton, are coping with their various losses: husbands who have lost wives, wives who have lost husbands, parents who have lost children and children who have lost parents.

“There I was reading about the Rapture, and I started to think, I know that feeling. I know that feeling of being left behind. We’re always being left behind, we’re always living in a world where there are these spaces where people we knew and loved used to be.” New York Times interview

Despite the supra-natural incident at the core of the novel, Mr. Perrotta seems more interested in exploring how fast our culture moves us to forget trauma. (The title of this post is a quote from an interview with the author.) On a personal scale, most of us have had the experience of losing someone and all too soon being expected to “move on”. On a global scale, we tend to lose our grasp on world events as they quickly degenerate into “history”.

Happily,I found Mr. Perrotta’s characters to be true-to-life, which means, don’t look for neat resolutions.

My favourite quote is actually an aside from one of the main characters: “The Garvey clan was like the old Soviet Union, a once mighty power that had dissolved into a bunch of weak and cranky units.”

The author tucks his expert handling of language behind a seemingly effortless colloquial patter. I enjoyed The Leftovers but I always go for books that imitate rather than improve on life.

An 8 out 10 for me.
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