What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down?
That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.
Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin’s own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne. Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be.
It’s been three years since the Rapture-like event during which millions of people all over Earth randomly disappeared. Whatever triggered the Sudden Departure, though did not discriminate between religions, race, age, or behavior. There was no rhyme or reason to explain who was taken and who remained.
Survivors use different methods to cope. Some, like Laurie Garvey are convinced that the event truly was the Biblical Rapture and join the Guilty Remnant, a cult whose members are never seen in public without a lit cigarette, and are determined to do whatever is necessary to remind everyone that the end is nigh.
Her son, Tom, drops out of college and ends up in a cult of his own. After he meets one of the “wives” of his cult leader, his views slowly begin changing, but he’s still chasing dreams and searching for answers.
Her daughter, Jill, has gone from a model student to a party girl who comes home late and is failing classes.
Laurie’s husband, Kevin, is busy trying to keep his family together while helping the town to move on. Just when he thinks he will be able to move his own personal life forward, things come to a screeching halt.
I liked that this book was unpredictable. There wasn’t a lot of foreshadowing in the story, which made for an interesting read. A few little clues are okay, but I like some surprises. I didn’t really like the way the story ended, but I think that was more because I didn’t agree with some of the character’s decisions than because of any lack in the story itself.
About the book:
Title: The Leftovers
Author: Tom Perrotta
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release date: August 30, 2011
Where I got this book: I won an ARC from Goodreads