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Leave the World Behind

3.35  ·  Rating details ·  38,279 ratings  ·  6,659 reviews
A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the we
Hardcover, 241 pages
Published October 6th 2020 by Ecco
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Sue Stop if you feel you need to. I found the writing atrocious, cringe-worthy at times. I was compelled to keep going and felt that there was a sort-of e…moreStop if you feel you need to. I found the writing atrocious, cringe-worthy at times. I was compelled to keep going and felt that there was a sort-of explanation at the end for what was going on, but could not get by the ridiculously list-making manner of describing people and/or situations. A disappointment for me.(less)

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Average rating 3.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  38,279 ratings  ·  6,659 reviews

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Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A white family is vacationing in the Hamptons when the black owners of the home they are renting show up. Together the families must figure out what’s going on, because something terrible is clearly happening. This is an exceptional examination of race and class and family and what the world looks like when it’s ending—not at all different from the world we are in now. Finely o served details throughout.
Oct 29, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is the most low-key and vague thriller I’ve read and would therefore be best enjoyed by readers who like very scaled back horror that focuses less on action and more on subtle feelings of dread and uneasiness. The whole point of the book is that you don’t know what’s going on, and it’s the absence of knowledge that is meant to play into the tension and fear. The story personally didn’t strike me the same way, perhaps due to the meandering nature of the conversations between the charact ...more
Roman Clodia
Sep 22, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
A potentially interesting scenario here, though one rather overplayed and everywhere due to Covid, but the writing had me grating my teeth right from the start: 'they huddled and inspected like Caravaggio's Thomas and friends', 'his penis jerked itself towards the sun, a yoga salutation, bouncing, then stiff at the house's allure' - the prose is constantly over-written with a 'why use one word when you could use fifty?' attitude.

The narrative stance is like a third-person stream of consciousnes
Nilufer Ozmekik
Jun 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Get ready to watch this book’s adaptation on Netflix. Such an amazing team on the board: Homecoming and Mr. Robot’s director Sam Ismael and fabulous cast including Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts!!! I cannot wait !!!

Oh noooo!!!! This is smart, thrilling, riveting suspense and family drama but it’s not a great choice to read it during your quarantine and chill times because it’s claustrophobic, dark, suffocating, apocalyptic story.

Something going on outside and you gotta stay in your house
Frank Phillips
Oct 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was a book I was very much looking forward to, considering all the positive hype it has received, and it's relevant subject matter, I could not wait to pick this one up. Unfortunately, this will go down as one of the biggest disappointments of 2020 for me in the book world... It just did not hit the mark . There was so much potential, and despite the explicit vulgarity and often annoying style, I thought it was still redeemable and could not wait to see how this came together at the end... ...more
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

A middle-aged white couple and their two teenage children have their vacation at a luxurious, secluded Airbnb interrupted by a late night knock at the door. The black owners of the home are at the door with a story of a major unknown event that knocked out the power along the east coast.

Over the course of the next few days, tensions surface between the two families and fear is the overriding emotion. There is no cellphone, radio, or tv reception, leaving them totally cut off from the w
Jul 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Prepare to be freaked the fuck out!!!

Amanda and Clay along with their two teenage children head out to a luxurious vacation home in the Hamptons. They spend the day lounging poolside, eating, drinking, and enjoying each others company which is easy to do when the wi-fi is so spotty where they are. After enjoying a nice dinner and after the kids have turned into bed Amanda and Clay just want to relax after a glorious summer day of sunshine but then there is a knock on the door. This late in the
Alexander Christian
Oct 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
Leave this Book Behind
Elyse  Walters
Oct 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Audiobook.... read by Marin Ireland

“Love goes on after a bomb”....
“All anyone really wanted was home and food”.....
....Sausage pasta, wine, Chardonnay, whiskey, carrots and hummus, eggs, cereal, chips, cokes, desserts, cakes, ice cream, donuts, cookies, salty goldfish crackers, hamburgers, hotdogs, orange slices, cheese & crackers, strawberries, zucchini, blueberries, yogurt, bread,, tuna, beans, cans of soup,
Sliced turkey, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, cakes, more vodka, more whiskey, more b
Sep 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Elle by: Jordy’s Book Club
Shelves: 2020, from-publisher
I don’t know how to talk about this book. It’s just so out of left field. I don’t even know if I liked it.

But I’ll try to vaguely review it here, as just about everything that I want to say could be considered a spoiler. The biggest feeling I had while reading was one of tension. There’s something constantly bubbling underneath the surface and you’re never quite sure what it is. And that tension keeps building towards a climax, but it doesn’t ever seem to reach it. I’m left with more questions
Chelsea Humphrey
Sep 24, 2020 marked it as dnf-lost-interest
Going to have to mark this as a DNF for now, but I'm hoping that it will work well for me at a later date, as I've heard the conversations around race and privilege are thought provoking and timely. At the moment, I just can't slog through the over-written prose, but I'm hoping that the right reader will snatch this up at publication, as I believe in supporting this author and what Alam is trying to tell with this story. Basically, it's me and not the book. :(

*Many thanks to the publisher for pr
Michael David
Oct 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Well, this is definitely an original story. I’ll give it that.

Amanda and Clay, and their two children, head to a remote area of Long Island to vacation at a beautiful Airbnb. After a day of of fun and sun, a knock at the front door takes them out of their reverie. On the other side of the door is George and his wife, Ruth. They are the owners of the home. After a sudden blackout in New York, they decided to travel to the remotely located home to figure out what is going on.

There is, in fact, a
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Do you still have your bearings?

Two families forced to spend a weekend together....

The book begins as Amanda, Clay and their two children are staying at a luxurious Airbnb home on long island, expecting a quiet weekend away from the hustle and bustle of NYC. One night there is a knock on the door and there are the owners of the home, Ruth, and G.H., who have come to their rental home to escape the blackout in NYC. Soon the internet, electricity, and cable go out. Will no cell service, should Cla
Nov 04, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes I am so in the minority with a book that I am starting to question whether I read the same book as everybody else. This is one of those cases (partly at least, because an abundance of DNF-reviews agrees with me). I did not get on with this. Maybe I should have called it quits when at 15% in, Alam had managed to reference the genitals of three of the four family members. Snark aside, I was very much the wrong reader for this – where other people read scenes as tense, I found them satiri ...more
I'm so torn over how I feel about this book. This definitely felt more literary fiction than thriller to me, which I wasn't expecting after reading the description of this book, I guess I was expecting something with a little more action in the story. But this book is definitely more of a slow burn, but there are some true moments of tension between these characters in this book that I really enjoyed. I listened to the audiobook for this one while reading along simultaneously, and I'm kind of gl ...more
4.5 rounded up to 5

There's a lot of mystery around what this book is exactly about. Everyone is being deliberately vague and after having read it myself, I can now say that is the right approach. I finished this over the weekend and ever since then, I’ve been trying to think of how many other books made me feel this way. Not many, that’s for sure. This is a book you have to deliberately read (and go blind into) and allow yourself to absorb carefully. I think one of the most genius things about i
4.5, rounded up

Not a plain old thriller!

This book tricked me! Here I was reading a book about an apocalypse! This is NOT my genre! I went into it blind, like I love to do, and I thought I was getting a plain old thriller. But I don’t want to scare off people—this is more like apocalypse light. There’s no gore, no dead bodies, no zombies. And there is distance (covering my mouth so I don’t say more). I think of it as a family drama with weird things happening.

First, a quick and vague plot synopsi
Larry H
Oct 11, 2020 rated it liked it
There always seem to be books that get a tremendous amount of hype and critical buzz (and sometimes win major awards), yet when I read them I'm left scratching my head at what I might have missed. How could something appeal to so many and bypass me entirely?

Rumaan Alam's new novel, Leave the World Behind , is the latest to add to that list. It's a National Book Award nominee and it has been praised by numerous publications and critics. I have seen mixed reviews among friends of mine on Bookst
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a story about the end of the 🌎
A white middle class family from Brooklyn goes to vacation on Long Island at a remote Airbnb.
Their stay is interrupted at midnight by an older Black couple knocking on the door claiming to be the owners of the house and asking to stay the night because there is a blackout in all of New York City, and they don’t want to stay in their apartment in the city.
So... they are all sheltering in place, getting to know each other while an unknown terror is happening
Hmmm.... what can I say?💁🏻‍♀️
This was a difficult book to review. While it was a seemingly long journey warming up to the storyline, in the end I was left with a feeling of oppressive dread.

I try approaching my reads as blindly as possible, but occasionally that tactic works against me.

Amanda and Clay pack their two teenage kids into the family car to take a much needed vacation away from the city. Renting a home in the countryside, nothing could provide a more serene and idyllic setting
Jessica Woodbury
I thought I knew what a Rumaan Alam novel meant, but wow was I wrong. It is still so much of what I expected: the granular, sharp detail and the observations on a particular strain of comfortable, liberal white people. AND YET. I will not be the only one to have this experience, and in a way it's a sly bit of marketing to just talk about this like it's going to be a "strained relationships under pressure" novel of manners with some extra suspense kind of thing. For a reader like me, it is an abs ...more
Susanne  Strong
Nov 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dark, atmospheric, eerie and harrowing.

A relaxing vacation on Long Island turns out to be anything but for Amanda, Clay and their children Archie and Rose.

What at first seemed like the perfect vacation at an Airbnb is disturbed by a knock at the door late one night. It’s the homeowners: G.H. and Ruth Washington and they have news. A Blackout has hit the entire East Coast. At first Amanda and Clay are in disbelief, even when Satellite TV plays the Emergency Broadcast system on all channels and
Oct 11, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What the fuck did I pay money to read.
Sep 12, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher of the book. Although the book is only 236 pages, it is still bloated. This should have been a 50-60 short story at most. The author constantly overwrites scenes that needn't be. It took 6 pages just for the couple to be invited into the house. The author goes on for one entire page listing food items that a character purchased. Is this really necessary? He describes scenes that have no bearing on the story whatsoever. These scenes could be totally deleted a ...more
Oct 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
“Step into our beautiful house and leave the world behind”.

A family vacation in Long Island is interrupted when the homeowners return with news of something weird going on. Is the world ending? Is there a war? A natural disaster? WHO KNOWS.
The synopsis interested me and I thought there would be some Jordan Peele vibes but wow, I was so wrong. In the second chapter we get two pages of what Amanda buys from the grocery store. That’s when I knew this book was not what I thought it would be. The ov
Julie Ehlers
Oct 14, 2020 rated it liked it
My friends are all over the map when it comes to Leave the World Behind; I've seen every rating from 1 to 5 stars. Nothing makes me more curious than wildly varying reviews, which is why I'm more disappointed than usual to find that I come down right in the middle on this one.

On the one hand, the introvert in me loves nothing more than a small setting: Gather everyone together in an isolated house, and I'm a happy reader. Make it a fancy vacation home, and I'm even happier. (I laughed when I sa
Sep 11, 2020 rated it liked it
I finished this one some time ago but hadn't found the words to really describe it. It's eery, bizarre, over-the-top crazy, and filled with numerous descriptions of awful body fluid functions; but I still kept turning every page waiting to see what how it would all be explained.

When Amanda and Clay and their teenage son and daughter head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a quiet reprieve from life in the city and a taste of the good life in the luxurious Airbnb they’ve rented for
Dec 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: public-library
At a remote location on Rhode Island, a family happily vacations in a luxurious AirBnB.  Something happens, a terrible noise is heard, followed by a profound quietness.  The cell phones stop working, then the TV, radio, and internet.  They are effectively off the grid.  It may be that they are in a safe haven, but it is not a given.  The cast of light outside is "off", the air is thick and muddled.  Insects and birds have fallen silent, even as the deer emerge from the thick woods that surround ...more
Oct 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
An interesting and provocative plot wasted over nonsensical, absurd writing. I could probably write a proper review, but I could also just copy-paste Merriam Webster’s definition of “pretentious” and call it a day (fret not though, for I shall provide you with evidence further down):

1: characterized by pretension: such as
a: making usually unjustified or excessive claims (as of value or standing)

b: expressive of affected, unwarranted, or exaggerated importance, worth, or stature

So, the aforemen
The brain abets the eye; eventually your expectations of a thing supersede the thing itself.

Unfortunately, my high expectations for this book didn’t end up superseding my subpar experience with it. :(

But if there’s anything you should know before I get into things, it’s this: Rumaan Alam writes white people better than white people write white people.


Thematically and ambience-wise, there’s something about Leave the World Behind that reminded me of
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I'm the author of the novels Rich and Pretty, That Kind of Mother, and Leave the World Behind.

My short fiction has appeared in StoryQuarterly, Crazyhorse, Meridian, and elsewhere. I've also written for the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Wall Street Journal, and the New Republic, where I am a contributing editor. I co-host two podcasts for Slate, where I am also one of the parenting advice col

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