Review: The Leftovers

The LeftoversThe Leftovers is built on a fascinating concept: if The Rapture were to occur, what would happen to those left behind?  What if The Rapture (or as they referred to it in this story, The Sudden Departure), was not an event where millions of Christians disappeared across the globe, but rather was a “random Harvest” of people who represented a wide array of faiths?  Would normalcy prevail?  How would people cope with the fact that they were NOT among the chosen?  What if some of the “unchosen” were ministers?  What if your entire family disappeared, leaving you behind?  Or, what if your family was left on Earth, and your wife and son decided that they needed to join newly formed cults, with names like The Guilty Remnant and the Healing Hug Movement?  This is what Perrotta examines.  He doesn’t play judge and jury regarding why millions of people were chosen over others.  He simply allows the reader to watch The Leftovers go on living.  He quietly observes people trying to make new connections.  He provides great detail in describing white-clad Guilty Remnant members who chain smoke (required) and silently shadow the town residents in an effort to remind them of what happened, and what they believe is to come.  This truly is not a supernatural story; Perrotta has been described as the Steinbeck of Suburbia, and this book is no different.  His unflinching examination of the residents of upper middle class Mapleton will draw you in, and you will feel invested in their healing.  You will want these people to be all right.  You will want the self-proclaimed prophets who rise to “lead” the confused to go to jail for the crimes they commit.  I have read a few reviews that noted disappointment in the book’s ending, but I disagree.  The ending was a good fit, and neatly closed the chapters of each of the characters. The Leftovers was my first book by Tom Perrotta, but it won’t be the last.  4 stars.