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Leave the World Behind

3.21  ·  Rating details ·  102,426 ratings  ·  15,838 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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Jon De Santis I just finished it, and the problem I have is that once you've moved beyond the original set-up (stereotypical 2.2 family from NYC rents an Airbnb in …moreI just finished it, and the problem I have is that once you've moved beyond the original set-up (stereotypical 2.2 family from NYC rents an Airbnb in the back of beyond, strange things relating to a major power cut start happening, and the owners return and ask to stay in their own house because they fearful of travelling to NYC), nothing happens, other than lots of short chapters promising some sort of grand denouement, which - spoiler - never comes!

Unlike some readers (each to her own), I am not overly bothered by a big discernible 'plot', but the issue here is that entire story leads you down one long drawn-out suspenseful thriller-esque route and then makes no attempt to deliver on this promise.

I'm more than happen to end a book with questions ('reader: you decide), but not when you have been led a merry dance for 300+ pages, only to be told, 'there is no resolution' at the end. And in any case, it isn't that kind of book, genre-wise, because no one rides off into the sunset at the end leaving the reader to decide where they are heading.

The overall effect is that you feel conned. It's like being promised a cold Coke at the end of the marathon and being handed an empty paper cup.

And the characters are so flat and one-dimensional - 'bro' father who likes a crafty cigarette and to masturbate, middle class white mom who the writer desperately wants to cast as a heinous Karen but ends up portraying someone as non-dimensional as the Biden Harris bumper sticker that's probably on their car rear window. And as for the couple who own the house, who are these strange non-people?


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Average rating 3.21  · 
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 ·  102,426 ratings  ·  15,838 reviews

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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
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
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.
Alexander Christian
Oct 21, 2020 rated it did not like it
Leave this Book Behind
Apr 13, 2021 rated it liked it
this was an odd one! idk reading it was a constant flip between "pls let this shit end" and "ok wowowowow mind blown" ...more
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
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
Oct 11, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What the fuck did I pay money to read.
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
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
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: Jordan (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
Holly  B
 Literary suspense with a whisper of horror.

A family is vacationing in a exclusive, remote neighborhood tucked away in the woods, when someone knocks on the door in the middle of the night! They freak out! What should they do? What would I do?

Inquiring minds want to know, and my curiousity was piqued to the point that I just had to finish and fast. Only 241 pages, it was a quick read. There are some vivid descriptions, nakedness, and other bodily happenings that were freakish. Some downr
Oct 13, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, thriller
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
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
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
Michael David (on hiatus)
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
Nov 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Read this book if you like:
- Very unique spins on tired tropes (end of the world)
- Read with Jenna (Today Show) book club selections
- Words you have to look up
- National Book Award finalists
- Descriptions of bodily fluids, sex and random nudity
- Short novels already being adapted into Netflix films starring Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington
- Pretentious prose
- Publishers Weekly starred reviews
- Very detailed lists that seem irrelevant but aren't

Skip this book if you like:
- Endings
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
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
Terrie Robinson
"Leave the World Behind" by Rumaan Alam was alarmingly unsettling in so many ways!

Amanda and Clay and their two teenagers, Archie and Rose are off to a much needed vacation at an Airbnb on Long Island. The house is beautiful. Very secluded. Amazing. A fully loaded dream home!

It's very late in the evening, the kids are in bed, Amanda and Clay are relaxing after a quiet dinner, when they hear unsettling sounds outside. Then, a knock at the door! It's an older African-American couple, Ruth and G.H.
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
This book just affirms that ratings are lies and inaccurate and should not be trusted and that if a book sounds interesting to you, just read it.

Stories find their own audience. I happen to be part of the audience for this story.

I think this was marketed as a thriller? But it’s so much more than that. I don’t understand why books have to be marketed in such a rigid-like way, especially when they’re a blend of genres. It’s never about one thing. That’s not a story.

The writing style isn’t going t
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
“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
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
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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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