Rachel Reynolds's Reviews > The Leftovers

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
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's review
Aug 29, 2011

really liked it
Read from July 04 to 06, 2013

The basic premise of this book is that the Rapture arrives but only a portion of the world's citizens are taken. The disappear (as if by magic) in one grand gesture on October 14th. Without any rhyme or reason to those who were "chosen" (Only some Christians disappear; Hindus, Buddhists, and Atheists vanish in equal quantities), the leftovers struggle to make sense of their lives in the aftermath. Although the Rapture is a worldwide event, Perrotta focuses his novel on characters in the fictional town of Mapleton.

I was intrigued by the premise of the book. What I didn't expect was how much I related to the characters and the central themes. This novel is, essentially, about grief. Each character is grieving in their own way. They are grieving over family members and friends lost in an instant. They are grieving a shakeup in the general world order to which they had become accustomed. They are grieving at the realization that somehow, in some way, they were not "worthy" of being taken. They were left behind. Each character's grief plays out in a different way, through involvement with religious cults, running away from the comforts of home, or through complete avoidance of the outside world whenever possible. I especially related to Nora, a woman whose husband and two small children disappear right before her eyes. Without them, she becomes both a public symbol of the universal grief held by the Mapleton community as well as a private woman grieving an unimaginable loss. I often read Perrotta's words, wondering how he climbed inside my head and discovered the exact emotions I had felt over the last three or four years. It was uncanny.

Overall, I enjoyed the rhythm of the book. Perrotta jumps between each character's story smoothly, giving you a rich cast without overloading your brain with excess narrative. I thought the ending was a little too "tidy" but would love to see a sequel or another chapter. There is more story there.

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Reading Progress

07/04/2013 marked as: currently-reading
07/06/2013 marked as: read
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