Leftovers

( 44 )

Overview

A devastating novel of desperation and revenge from one of today's most compelling new voices in fiction. In this follow-up to her heartbreaking debut, Such a Pretty Girl, Laura Wiess once again spins a shattering tale of the tragedies that befall young women who are considered society's Leftovers.

Blair and Ardith are best friends who have committed an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice. But in order to understand what could drive two young women to such extreme ...

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Overview

A devastating novel of desperation and revenge from one of today's most compelling new voices in fiction. In this follow-up to her heartbreaking debut, Such a Pretty Girl, Laura Wiess once again spins a shattering tale of the tragedies that befall young women who are considered society's Leftovers.

Blair and Ardith are best friends who have committed an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice. But in order to understand what could drive two young women to such extreme measures, first you'll have to understand why. You'll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence. You will have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by the adults around her as damaged goods. A girl who has no one to trust except the one person she's forbidden to see. You'll have to understand what it's really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.

Are you ready?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Like her equally gripping debut (Such a Pretty Girl), Wiess's suspense story delivers an outsize jolt of adrenaline. Meet Ardith, the much-derided daughter of a low-life, abusive family, and Blair, her more respectable best friend, whose father "ditches [her] to go cheat with his girlfriend and [whose] mother pimps [her] out to further her career." The two take turns narrating what initially appears to be a police statement; however, Wiess shrewdly times clues to suggest rather different circumstances. The girls chronicle a history of suffering (rape, ridicule, abandonment), until they decide to take control and pay back their wrongdoers-with interest. As scandals usually do, the final moments of the book unfold with a bang and a twist, and readers may be shocked at Blair and Ardith's actions even if they are not completely surprised. Although the "best friends against the world" theme is not new, Wiess's clear insight into the evolution of victim into perpetrator and her layered storytelling bump up the subject to a much more challenging playing field. Ages 13-up. (Jan.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
KLIATT
AGERANGE: Ages 15 to 18.

This tale begins at the end. Taking turns, Blair and Ardith tell their story--their confession--to an unknown listener. Though they are only 15, it quickly becomes clear that they are bitter, jaded, and have seen too much for their young age. They grimly tell their listener that there are some hard lessons one has to learn to survive the transition from child to teenager, and their story is laden with them. Blair and Ardith come from dysfunctional families where the girls are basically on their own. As their story unravels, the listener learns of the drinking, abuse, rape, and neglect that define their lives. The girls cling to each other, but Blair’s mother does her best to keep them apart. They muddle along, just barely surviving their personal hells. When an accident brings their families together in an unlikely way, the girls can’t take it any more. Sick of watching their families pretend to be people they aren’t, the girls develop a plan to expose the truth, hoping the outcome will change their lives for good. Blair and Ardith’s confession is completely gripping and disturbing. Here are essentially good girls who are doing their best to thrive in awful circumstances. They suffer emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. They are manipulated, lied to, used, and ignored. The crime they confess to remains unclear right up until the end, building suspense in an already tense story. Their narratives bring up questions of free will, intent, and responsibility. Blair and Ardith contend that while guys explode (in violent and vengeful ways), girls implode, absorbing the pain of annihilating themselves. The end of their story will leave readers wondering if there’struth to that idea, if one way is better than the other, or if maybe both exploding and imploding can happen simultaneously. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

VOYA
Blair and Ardith need to grow up. Fast. At fifteen, there is so much they need to know to survive. Information such as how to duck under all the unwanted attention dished out by drunken parents and the oversexed friends of Ardith's older brother or how to deal with the emptiness and unrealistic expectations found at the mausoleum that Blair's professional parents call home. So they do. They learn to use the weapons at their disposal-sex, gossip, lies, even the truth-to pay back everyone who has ever harmed them. They finally win-or do they? The open ending leads to questions over whether the price the teens pay is too high for the success they achieve. Told with clarity and sympathy, this book leads the reader through the bleak maze of traumatic adolescence. With just enough intrigue and suspense, it is difficult to put down. The characters are well rounded, and although none is particularly likeable, there is enough common ground in each for the reader to identify in some way with all of them. It is interesting that the only "good guy" in this book is the friendly, neighborhood cop, who plays a pivotal although somewhat ineffectual role in this excellent addition to all libraries, especially those serving urban youth. Reviewer: Angie Hammond
Kirkus Reviews
Suburban teen girls take justice into their own hands. Ardith and Blair come from opposite sides of the tracks. Despite their dissimilar socioeconomic status, the girls are kindred spirits. Both want to escape the hostility of their family lives and gain control of their future. Ardith's parents live on the fringes of society. Her parents are substance abusers with extremely relaxed morals, and her older brother is a sexual predator. Always skirting the law, Ardith's family is but a few infractions away from incarceration. Her spotless academic record and her virginity are Ardith's only sources of strength and hope-until she meets Blair. The daughter of privilege, Blair is used as a pawn by her social-climbing parents. Caught up in her parents' miserable marriage and political scheming, Blair learns to suffer in silence. Isolated and manipulated, Blair is desperate for attention and longs for power. Ninth grade brings the two girls together as they contend with first boyfriends and surging hormones. Lacking parental supervision, the girls start getting into trouble as they begin to experiment with sex, drugs and alcohol. Their cries for attention start small but escalate quickly. As their exploits get riskier, a kindly police officer gets tragically pulled into their messy lives. To set things right, the girls scheme to pay back all the adults who have slighted them. The climax is explosive, but it's the feisty heroines who will resonate more. Gritty drama from Wiess (Such a Pretty Girl, 2007) that will get teens and parents talking.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781616801830
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/1/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 6.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Laura Wiess

Laura Wiess is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Such a Pretty Girl, chosen as one of the ALA’s 2008 Best Books for Young Adults and 2008 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, and Leftovers. Originally from Milltown, New Jersey, she traded bumper-to-bumper traffic, excellent pizza, and summer days down the shore for scenic roads, bears, no pizza delivery, and the irresistible allure of an old stone house surrounded by forests in Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains Region. Email Laura Wiess at laura@laurawiess.com or visit http://www.laurawiess.com for more information.

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Introduction

READING GROUP GUIDE

Leftovers by Laura Wiess

Blair and Ardith have done something wrong, something for which they're being questioned by police and pleading for forgiveness. But first you'll have to understand why.

You'll have to bear witness as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering. Classmates who ostracize and mock whatever they can't understand. Teachers who can't be bothered to become involved. Young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate with little consequence.

You'll have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl with no safe haven, whose home is a place where you have to lock your bedroom door at night. Who have no one they can trust but each other. Who have already been written off by the adults around them as damaged goods.

You'll have to find out what could drive two good-hearted girls to commit an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice.

You'll have to know, feel, accept what it's like to be an average forgotten girl in America today.

Are you ready?

READING GROUP DISCUSSION

1. The Robert Frost poem in the epigraph states, "I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way." Do you think that this quote is meant to apply to any particular character(s) in the story? What context for the novel as a whole does this quotation, as well as the Mother Theresa quotation, provide?

2. Discuss the narrative structure of Leftovers. Does the frame story make any part of the novel particularly compelling? Do you think that Ardith and Blair are reliable narrators? Why do you think the author chose to utilize this literary device?

3. At one pointduring the novel did you begin to realize that Ardith and Blair are disclosing their confession to Officer Dave?

4. Domestic dysfunction dominates the tone of this novel. How do Ardith and Blair each deal with the psychological abuse that they endure in their homes? Are their survival tactics similar? How are they different? In what ways does each girl manifest the effects her family has on her?

5. When Blair's mother is anxious or unhappy, she rubs the scar above her eyebrow that is the result of a malignant mole. Besides the mole and the scar, what are some other symbols in Leftovers and what is their implication?

6. Blair states, "guys freak out" and "girls freak in" (ms. p. 4). Where throughout the novel is her assessment of the differences between male and female behavior exemplified? Do you agree with Blair's opinion?

7. Were you surprised when Gary broke up with Ardith? How did the circumstances of their breakup relate to some of the novel's larger themes?

8. Blair states, "Ignorance of the outcome does not exempt you from the consequences" (ms. p. 7). On the other hand, the concept of intent is especially significant in this novel. How does it apply to each character? Where throughout the novel are the consequences at odds with what was intended?

9. Ardith and Blair's relationship is maintained throughout the course of the novel, but in what ways does it transform? What effect do their peers at school, Ardith's brother and Blair's mom have on their friendship? Do you think that their friendship is one that is sustainable?

10. Ardith states, "Blair's mother caused some really bad heartache, and while I'd like to say it's over now and I don't hold a grudge, I'd be lying" [ms. p. 100]. Do you think that Blair's mother should in some way be blamed for the devastating attack on Dellasandra that Blair and Ardith carefully orchestrated?

11. The following lines provide the novel's conclusion: "[...] we're not victims anymore. We learned how to play hardball with the best of them, and we won. What do you mean, 'Did we?'" [ms. p. 242]. Given the book's final sentence, what lesson is to be learned from this story? What do you think the future holds for Ardith and Blair?

12. Between Ardith and Blair, with whom did you most identify? Who do you believe is the better friend? Did you feel greater compassion for either one of the girls or does either deserve more forgiveness?

13. Though their story is a predominantly tragic one, is there anything about Ardith and Blair's school experiences that are at all reminiscent of your own middle school and high school memories?

14. Discuss the title. What is its significance?

ENHANCE YOUR BOOK CLUB

1. Before your book club meeting, take a stab at writing a short first chapter in the imaginary sequel to Leftovers. Where would we find Ardith and Blair five years in the future? Share your chapter with the group.

2. Read Laura Wiess's first novel, Such a Pretty Girl. In what ways does this novel differ from Leftovers? Has Wiess's literary style transformed at all between these two books?

3. Visit the author's website at http://laurawiess.com

4. For information about school bullying, visit the website of the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center at www.safeyouth.org, as well as www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov, a site designed by and for kids and teens.

Laura Wiess is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Such a Pretty Girl, chosen as one of the ALA's 2008 Best Books for Young Adults and 2008 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, and Leftovers. Originally from Milltown, New Jersey, she traded bumper-to-bumper traffic, excellent pizza, and summer days down the shore for scenic roads, bears, no pizza delivery, and the irresistible allure of an old stone house surrounded by forests in Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains Region. Email Laura Wiess at laura@laurawiess.com or visit http://www.laurawiess.com for more information.

Read More Show Less

Reading Group Guide

READING GROUP GUIDE

Leftovers by Laura Wiess

Blair and Ardith have done something wrong, something for which they're being questioned by police and pleading for forgiveness. But first you'll have to understand why.

You'll have to bear witness as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering. Classmates who ostracize and mock whatever they can't understand. Teachers who can't be bothered to become involved. Young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate with little consequence.

You'll have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl with no safe haven, whose home is a place where you have to lock your bedroom door at night. Who have no one they can trust but each other. Who have already been written off by the adults around them as damaged goods.

You'll have to find out what could drive two good-hearted girls to commit an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice.

You'll have to know, feel, accept what it's like to be an average forgotten girl in America today.

Are you ready?

READING GROUP DISCUSSION

1. The Robert Frost poem in the epigraph states, "I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way." Do you think that this quote is meant to apply to any particular character(s) in the story? What context for the novel as a whole does this quotation, as well as the Mother Theresa quotation, provide?

2. Discuss the narrative structure of Leftovers. Does the frame story make any part of the novel particularly compelling? Do you think that Ardith and Blair are reliable narrators? Why do you think the author chose to utilize this literary device?

3. At one point during the novel did you begin to realize that Ardith and Blair are disclosing their confession to Officer Dave?

4. Domestic dysfunction dominates the tone of this novel. How do Ardith and Blair each deal with the psychological abuse that they endure in their homes? Are their survival tactics similar? How are they different? In what ways does each girl manifest the effects her family has on her?

5. When Blair's mother is anxious or unhappy, she rubs the scar above her eyebrow that is the result of a malignant mole. Besides the mole and the scar, what are some other symbols in Leftovers and what is their implication?

6. Blair states, "guys freak out" and "girls freak in" (ms. p. 4). Where throughout the novel is her assessment of the differences between male and female behavior exemplified? Do you agree with Blair's opinion?

7. Were you surprised when Gary broke up with Ardith? How did the circumstances of their breakup relate to some of the novel's larger themes?

8. Blair states, "Ignorance of the outcome does not exempt you from the consequences" (ms. p. 7). On the other hand, the concept of intent is especially significant in this novel. How does it apply to each character? Where throughout the novel are the consequences at odds with what was intended?

9. Ardith and Blair's relationship is maintained throughout the course of the novel, but in what ways does it transform? What effect do their peers at school, Ardith's brother and Blair's mom have on their friendship? Do you think that their friendship is one that is sustainable?

10. Ardith states, "Blair's mother caused some really bad heartache, and while I'd like to say it's over now and I don't hold a grudge, I'd be lying" [ms. p. 100]. Do you think that Blair's mother should in some way be blamed for the devastating attack on Dellasandra that Blair and Ardith carefully orchestrated?

11. The following lines provide the novel's conclusion: "[...] we're not victims anymore. We learned how to play hardball with the best of them, and we won. What do you mean, 'Did we?'" [ms. p. 242]. Given the book's final sentence, what lesson is to be learned from this story? What do you think the future holds for Ardith and Blair?

12. Between Ardith and Blair, with whom did you most identify? Who do you believe is the better friend? Did you feel greater compassion for either one of the girls or does either deserve more forgiveness?

13. Though their story is a predominantly tragic one, is there anything about Ardith and Blair's school experiences that are at all reminiscent of your own middle school and high school memories?

14. Discuss the title. What is its significance?

ENHANCE YOUR BOOK CLUB

1. Before your book club meeting, take a stab at writing a short first chapter in the imaginary sequel to Leftovers. Where would we find Ardith and Blair five years in the future? Share your chapter with the group.

2. Read Laura Wiess's first novel, Such a Pretty Girl. In what ways does this novel differ from Leftovers? Has Wiess's literary style transformed at all between these two books?

3. Visit the author's website at http://laurawiess.com

4. For information about school bullying, visit the website of the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center at www.safeyouth.org, as well as www.stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov, a site designed by and for kids and teens.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 44 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(27)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 44 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 19, 2011

    One of the best books I've read!!!

    My friend told me about this book. I thought I wasn't going to like it because I didn't like to read, but, WOW!!! This book is so exciting, alluring, and just plain interesting! I would recommend this to people who love an intense, shocking, and some provocative moments!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 3, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by JodiG. for TeensReadToo.com

    Have you ever felt alienated from the rest of the world? Have you spoken and known that nobody was listening? Have you ever screamed ¿No¿ and been ignored at every turn? Ardith and Blair have experienced all that and more. And now they have committed a despicable act of vengeance in an effort to make everything ¿right¿ again.<BR/><BR/>Blair and Ardith are best friends. They are fifteen, in the ninth grade, and have miserable, though very different, home lives. <BR/><BR/>Ardith lives in a party house. Her parents are nightly hosts to a group of drunken teenage boys. Without limits, the boys control the house and any female that dares to enter it. Not even Ardith is safe from their advances. Blair comes from an affluent family. Her parents are successful in their careers, have a new home, and are poised to rise through the <BR/>local social and political ranks. Now her mother is making decisions to shape the family image; decisions that are wrenching Blair away from the those she loves most. In addition to their family problems, Blair and Ardith are now becoming victims of the school rumor mill and some very cruel classmates. How much can they be expected to tolerate? <BR/><BR/>LEFTOVERS is a dramatic and disturbing story of two girls who have been pushed to great lengths. It is written in alternating points of view, as each girl describes the events that led them to a final, desperate act. LEFTOVERS is a captivating book that will keep you turning the pages.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2013

    LEFTOVERS Is The Type Of Book That Will Stay With You, Ive read

    LEFTOVERS Is The Type Of Book That Will Stay With You, Ive read It About A Year Ago And Still Think Of It From Time To Time. Laura Wiess' Writing Is So Beautiful. I Was Shocked, Sad, Angry, And Hurt. So Many Emotions Ran Through Me While Reading This. I Felt Attached To The Characters, And I Love Books Like That. I Recommend This Book To Teen Girls And Their Mothers.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2012

    Okay.

    Confusing but really interesting.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 21, 2010

    Disturbing

    Scary to think that this is how families (dis)function.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 21, 2010

    A great read =))

    Leftovers by Laura Wiess is a story of two teenage girls, Ardith and Blair, who are social outcasts and only have each other to lean on. The author alternates between the characters telling the story, and them talking into a recording device which you'll find more about once you read the book. The author did a good job of making this book a diary of the main character, Blair. I didn't like how the book was in second person for the other main character, Ardith, because this narration was confusing at times and I wasn't used to that type of writing style. The narration helped me understand points of view and details of the plot to keep the story straight.
    I liked that the characters were relatable, despite their family reputation. Leftovers dealt with the low points of high school such as rumors, trying to fit in, and family troubles. These girls dealt with the rumors positively and made them go away with a brilliant idea. This book shows that if one has ambition and dedication no matter the situation one can make a better life for themselves. This book was unrealistic because teenagers normally would not experience so much in a short time period. If this book was told within a two year period, then it would be realistic.
    It is ironic how Ardith's parents would give her a great deal of freedom that most teens would love, but she doesn't want freedom. She wants nights where she doesn't have to sleep with a hammer under her pillow because of her brother's hardcore partying. Blair's mom is a rising defense attorney who traded her family for her career. All in all, I believe that Leftovers is a good enjoyable book and I would recommend this book to all teenage girls."

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    so AMAZING!!!

    This is seriously my favorite book. Laura Wiess wrote it in a really creative and different way from any other book I have read. The characters are amazing and so real. I need more books to read like this one!!!!!!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2014

    Amazing Book!

    I found one of Laura Weiss books a couple months ago(Such a Pretty Girl) and loved it. When I started looking up some of her other books, I saw this one and thought it sounded interesting.This book is fantastic. Usually the books i've read feature the love between a boy and girl as the core of the story, but with this novel it was the love and loyalty between two best friends Ardith and Blair. I could not put this book down; the style of how it was written switching between both of their sides of the story which not only makes you feel like you were there but highlights the bond between these two girls who know each other so well that they naturally mould together when telling their story. The tale of two girls with completely different lifestyles that are going through the exact same life experiences is beautiful and shows that no matter how lost they get or how dark it becomes they have each other. Five star story and would definitely recommend.

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  • Posted September 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    unbelivable

    This is one of my favorite books. It took me about two days to read it, I simply could not put it down. This is not your everyday school drama, it is beyond words. This is deep, sad, and revolutionary. The way the author presents Ardith and Blair is incredible. From the unique writing style to the detailed plot, you'll feel what they feel. I cried, laughed and found myself questioning the coldness and cruelty that teens face. I myself am a teen, and never again will I look at my peers the same way after reading this novel. Truly, an outstandig work.

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  • Posted February 22, 2009

    So Hard To Read

    This was an amazing book. It was so hard to read because it's just so true. I am currently in ninth grade and was shocked to realize how much I had in common with Ardith and Blair. The writing was really really good, but it might have been too good, cause it was kinda confusing at the beginning. It was a really sad book that i recommend every preteen girl read before she gets to high school.

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  • Posted January 26, 2009

    Great Leftovers!

    First of all, I think this book is just not for young, adult readers but for all readers. As a former at-risk, high school educator, this book perfectly portrays what young women face in our schools today. Ninth graders do experience peer pressure to do sexually explicit things and<BR/>horrendous intolerance of anyone different does exist. Guys still get away with a lot and double standards do exist. I Loved this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I consumed it in one sitting. These two young women, one from so much and one from so little with so much in common; inadequate, absent parents, and too much time left alone. They raised themselves and showed loyalty to the one, good person who actually cared for them. Pass this book along, it has such a strong and true voice.<BR/>A very powerful book which is unsettling. Bravo.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2008

    Liv's Book Reviews

    This book was promoted as a sequel to Such A Pretty Girl, but I don't think it is. They both deal with tough issues in today's world, but that's where the similarities end. The characters, setting, and even perspective are different, which is nice. I don't think I could've read another book related to Such A Pretty Girl. Just reading that once was enough for me. Leftovers brings its own goods to the table and even though it's an extremely different type of narrative, I think it's just as good as the first book. The thing I liked best about it was the way it was told. The chapters alternate between who's telling the story and as they're telling the story, they are actually speaking into a recording device for a person who's revealed at the end. And even through that, they each have a different method of talking. One narrates as if you're actually her, and the other tells it like a diary. Those things helped to distinguish points of view and details of the plot which was quite handy because there are many little details to keep straight. This book is much more of a thinking and analyzing book than Such A Pretty Girl which was a refreshing difference. I also liked how the girls were down to earth, funny, and completely relatable, despite their terrible home lives and the horrible things they went through during the course of the story. They themselves were undeniably changed and as the reader, you got to be there to see them go through it. And the ending is flooring. I loved it so much. My one itsy bitsy complaint about this book was that I think the ages of the girls were a little bit unaccurate. I think, no I hope, girls who are in their freshman year of highschool wouldn't be going through the things that Blair and Ardith went through. But really, I don't know. The one thing I do know is that this is a seriously amazing book and it is a definite must read for any teenage girl of today. But as with the first book, beware of some explicit content.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2008

    Scary real

    When I read Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess, I liked it alot, but it wasn't as great as I hoped it would have been. But I still was interested by the book Leftovers nonetheless. So I started reading it and was just hooked. It was terrible what the girls go through. And it made you cringe and hate today's society. And I loved it. It was real and true and made you think and made you want to help these girls. I thought the ending was perfect.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2008

    A reviewer

    Leftovers is definitely a book written for the young adult genre although it seems to offer a unique look into 'teen life' for anyone 20+. The material is both shocking and eery. After reading every book by Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk, I figured Leftovers would be a nice PG version of some Jay McInerny novel. It more than met my expections and I found some of the 'scenes' a bit unsettling even for myself. My only critism was the ending. The climax was very weak and left me feeling extremely unsatisfied. I found that the other 'incidents' throughout the book were far more shocking and unsettling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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