I’m a little behind on Recent Reads post. I’ve actually just started book 18, so I have a couple of books to update about.
Book 16 was also the fourth pick for book club (Katie and I). She looked through my To-Read list on Goodreads and picked this one, because she didn’t know that the HBO show of the same name was inspired by it. I was more than happy to read it, since it’s been on that list for quite some time.
This is the second book I have read by Tom Perrotta, the first being Little Children. I read that back in my college days (probably 2007?), so I don’t recall every detail. I just remembered everything being very dramatic yet quiet.
My fear was that The Leftovers would be a lot like our attempt at reading Life After Life and that it would sound better than it was executed. I can say that that’s not true. I was engaged very quickly and enjoyed reading this book.
The Leftovers is about what happens when millions of people in the world suddenly disappear in what they eventually call the Sudden Departure (though the religious call it the rapture). Many things happen as people try to go on living life after the loss of loved ones and the unknown reason behind it all. In the book, we are shown the perspective of 5 different people, 4 of which are the members of the Garvey family. Kevin, the father, has become the mayor of Mapleton 3 years after the event. He is trying to maintain hope in the community while dealing with the loss of Laurie, his wife, who joined a group called the Guilty Remnant. The GR is filled with people who dress only in white, take a vow of silence, and smoke cigarettes (though I still don’t fully understand the reasoning behind that). They believe they were left behind because they weren’t worthy in God’s eyes, so they must make up for it in their own way. Laurie left her whole family behind to join this group. Their daughter Jill is a teenager, so frustrated with the loss of her mother and those troubling teen years that she shaves her head and gets in with the wrong girl, getting high, drinking, and ditching school. And their son, Tom, has become a volunteer of a man called “Holy Wayne” who started the Healing Hug Movement, telling the world that he can remove their pain through hugs.
I loved reading about the various groups of people in the world who are dealing with the departure in their own ways, religious or otherwise. I think Perrotta just knows how to tell a story about suburbia, something we always like to think of as calm and innocent but is always holding secrets underneath.
Katie and I still haven’t met to discuss the book, but I’m so glad that we read this one. I really believe that we will have plenty to talk about. If you’ve seen the show, I don’t believe it will be super similar to the book, other than the character names and groupings. I’m curious to see it one day, but for now I am pleased with the story the book told.