The Leftovers by Tom Perotta

The Leftovers - Tom PerrottaThe Leftovers by Tom Perotta
Published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan
Review copy provided by the publicist

The citizens of Mapleton are left stunned after losing many of their family members and friends in the event which has come to be called the Sudden Departure. Mapleton’s mayor, Kevin Garvey, wants things to go back to normal in the community, even though his home life is falling apart at the seams. His wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a cult that has sprung up in the wake of the Rapture, and his son, Tom, has left the home as well, and after dropping out of college, he now travels the country following a prophet. Kevin’s daughter, Jill, is still home but is no longer the perfect angel Kevin is used to. Kevin is also attending to the needs of Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family that day, and someone Kevin has decided he might want to pursue a relationship with.

I had seriously high expectations for The Leftovers. I’m not sure why, since I’ve never read a Perotta novel before, but something about this book made me think I would absolutely love it. Maybe I fell victim to all the buzz? Who knows. In any case, I did like this novel. But I didn’t love it. So that was a bit of a disappointment.

The thing is that The Leftovers is so deeply melancholy that I had trouble actually enjoying the experience of reading it. It was just so … depressing. Nothing really positive happens at any point throughout the book. I mean, the premise of the novel doesn’t exactly encourage puppies and rainbows, but still. I was left with sad feelings every time I stepped away from the book.

What I did love about the novel were the characters. LOVE. I definitely get that Tom Perotta is a genius at crafting interesting, complicated, flawed characters. I saw pieces of myself in almost every single one of these characters, and I think that’s a huge talent that Perotta has. He managed to make these sad, broken, left behind (literally) people into characters I easily fell in love with. I cheered them on and prayed that something good would come to them. I would have stopped reading the book, in fact, had the characters not been so compelling.

I was lucky enough to experience The Leftovers on audio, and while I’m not sure it would be the best choice for everyone, it was the right choice for me. The reason I say it might not be for everyone is that Perotta’s writing is pretty incredible and some people might prefer to experience it with their eyes rather than their ears. For me personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the audio production, which was narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris, and would highly recommend it.

While The Leftovers didn’t quite live up to my insanely high expectations, I still enjoyed it and would recommend you read it yourself. The premise itself is enough to engage almost any reader, and the characters and writing are fantastic as well.

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9 thoughts on “The Leftovers by Tom Perotta

  1. I think Perotta has a gift for writing flawed and touching characters, and they have been a hallmark of the other books that I have read by him as well. It sounds as if this is a sad book, but one that I would really get a lot out of. I know we talked about it a little bit, but I am still so excited to read this one. It sounds like something that might just pull me out of my funk! Great review today, Heather!

  2. Hmm, I hadn’t realized from other reviews I read how somber this was. I’ll have to keep that in mind when I get to it. I have this book and keep forgetting about it, LOL. I have really enjoyed all of Perotta’s books that I’ve read (maybe 3 or 4), but I could see if your expectations had anything to do with all the buzz he’s gotten lately that the book could easily not quite add up to them.

  3. Tom Perotta is a name I know but havent read anything of. I quite like sober/depressing books so I may well enjoy this more than you did but I know that feeling where you dont dislike a book (in fact far from it) but at the same time you weren’t wowed.

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