I first heard about The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta from Gayle’s review on Everyday I Write the Book. While Gayle is a fan of Perrotta’s novels, he’s new to me. I was drawn into the premise of the book.
In a Rapture-like event, people around the world just vanished into thin air. No one knows where they went or how they disappeared. Instead of dwelling on the disappearance, Perrotta focuses on the people who were left behind. The people who are left after the Sudden Departure try to cope with the disappearance of their friends, family, and neighbors. Laurie cannot deal with her normal life, so joins a cult-like organization. Her husband, who wants to help everyone move on, becomes mayor in hopes of helping the town recover. Their son quits college to follow a prophet while their once straight A-student teenage daughter struggles in school.
The most compelling character for me is Nora, who went into the kitchen to grab something and returned to the dinner to find her husband and children gone. Her grief is still palpable but she tries to move on. She even attempts to date. I think the reason I’m drawn to Nora is that we’re both mothers of young children.
Perrotta weaves his characters beautifully. He delved into their strengths, their flaws, their dreams (or lack of)–even the characters wanted to hate. I couldn’t hate them. I worried about them. I wanted them to happy. I don’t normally feel that way after most books. He gives us insight on how we may react in time of tragedy and grief.
The Leftovers may be my first book by Tom Perrotta, but it certainly won’t be my last.
I borrowed my copy from the library. This post contains affiliate links.