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On October 14th, the little town of Mapleton suffered the Sudden Departure, the still unexplained disappearance of many of its citizens. As survivors try to make sense of the vanishings, one man, Mayor Kevin Garvey, struggles without real guidelines to heal the chasms that appeared nearly instantaneously among those still living in this bereft community. Even his own household seems to be shattered: His wife has joined a cult that has taken a collective vow of silence; his son drops out of college to follow a wild-eyed prophet; and his teenage daughter has become distant and strange. This new novel by the author of Little Children and Abstinence Teacher probes how continuing uncertainty undermines connections.