Title: The Leftovers
Author: Tom Perrotta
Read: March 8, 2014
Summary: 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. goodreads
Review: First thoughts, this is a weird book. But enjoyable! It is a very strange concept to think what would happen after a "Sudden Departure." There are people who would immediately identify it as the Rapture, which happened in this book, but they may quickly find that it doesn't all add up to that. There will be others who will search for a scientific reason and they may also come up short. Then there are those who just accept that this is the new normal and try to find their way. The interesting thing is how the theories/reactions to this event divide and characterize the people they happen to. That is what this story is about.
We get to meet various people at different stages in their lives when the Departure happens and then follow them through the years that follow. After the departure, the story becomes relatively normal. Families break apart, friendships are made, dreams change and life goes on. I really enjoyed how the characters in this book all had different connections to each other yet handled the Departure extremely differently.
I read the Left Behind series in high school which is the religious view of what happens after the rapture. Those books focused specifically on the religious aftermath of such an event but I think this story is like the non-religious people who are left over. Some of them join "cults" and leave their old lives behind while others try to make their lives fit into the new world.
I'm not entirely sure where this book came from or how it got on my TBR list (do I ever actually know?!?!) but it was an entertaining read and a relatively unique concept.