The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
Source: BEA 2011
What if the Rapture happened and you got left behind? Or what if it wasn’t the Rapture at all, but something murkier, a burst of mysterious, apparently random disappearances that shattered the world in a single moment, dividing history into Before and After, leaving no one unscathed? How would you rebuild your life in the wake of such a devastating event?
This is the question confronting the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a formerly comfortable suburban community that lost over a hundred people in the Sudden Departure. Through the prism of a single family, Perrotta illuminates a familiar America made strange by grief and apocalyptic anxiety. The Leftovers is a powerful and deeply moving book about people struggling to hold onto a belief in their own futures. (Goodreads)
Initially attracted to this book because of the timeliness of the subject (the Rapture), the story soon sucked me in and wouldn’t let go! I got involved with Kevin and Nora and Tom and the rest of the “leftovers”, trying to survive after the Sudden Departure that may or may not have been the biblical Rapture. No matter what happens, life goes on. That’s the beauty of the human race…we survive. Some better than others, and their somewhat bumpy journey is what makes this book so enthralling.
The story is told by several different characters, but it never got confusing or unwieldy. The narrators were Kevin, his wife Laurie, son Tom, daughter Jill, and Nora, a woman who lost her entire family. The chapters alternated between these people, and we slowly get to know them and their pain. It was fascinating watching how different personalities reacted to the Departure, and the coping mechanisms they came up with: from the Guilty Remnants to Holy Wayne to the Barefoot People. Fascinating!
I liked that the story didn’t really pick up until a few years after the Departure, as it would have been an entirely different story right afterwards. This way, things had a chance to settle down and people learn how to cope. Or not cope, whatever the case may be.
Gave this a 5/5 rating as I couldn’t put it down and finished it in a single day! It was an exhausting read, but well worth it! I really liked that we don’t know if this was really the Rapture, because the characters don’t know. Perrotta is a gifted writer who really made me care about these people, and left me wondering how I would have reacted in the same situation. The story works on different levels, and I’m still digesting it. And BTW, I absolutely love the cover! Very eye-catching!