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The Leftovers (TV tie-in edition)

The Leftovers (TV tie-in edition)

3.4 22
by Tom Perrotta

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A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book for 2011
A USA Today 10 Books We Loved Reading in 2011 Title
One of NPR's 10 Best Novels of 2011

What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in


A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
A Washington Post Notable Fiction Book for 2011
A USA Today 10 Books We Loved Reading in 2011 Title
One of NPR's 10 Best Novels of 2011

What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down?

That's what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.
Kevin Garvey, Mapleton's new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin's own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne. Only Kevin's teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she's definitely not the sweet "A" student she used to be. Kevin wants to help her, but he's distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.
With heart, intelligence and a rare ability to illuminate the struggles inherent in ordinary lives, Tom Perrotta has written a startling, thought-provoking novel about love, connection and loss.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

The Leftovers is, simply put, the best Twilight Zone episode you never saw.” —Stephen King, New York Times Book Review

“[Perrotta's] most mature, absorbing novel, one that confirms his development from a funnyman to a daring chronicler of our most profound anxieties and human desires...Leavened with humor and tinged with creepiness, this insightful novel draws us into some very dark corners of the human psyche.” —Washington Post

“[Perrotta's] most ambitious book to date....The premise is as simple as it is startling (certainly for the characters involved). The novel is filled with those who have changed their lives radically or discovered something crucial about themselves, as radical upheaval generates a variety of coping mechanisms. Though the tone is more comic than tragic, it is mainly empathic, never drawing a distinction between "good" and "bad" characters, but recognizing all as merely human--ordinary people dealing with an extraordinary situation.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“Ever since Little Children, Tom Perrotta has been a master chronicler of suburban ennui, but he takes things to a new level with his wry, insightful, unputdownable novel The Leftovers...Profoundly entertaining...The Leftovers brims with joy, hilarity, tenderness and hope.” —Marie Claire

“An engrossing read.” —People

The Leftovers is sort of an "Our Town" for End Times. Tom Perrotta, our Balzac of the burbs, has come up with a wild premise for his engaging, entertaining new novel. Suddenly, a huge number of people vanish from this earth. The only explanation is that The Rapture has occurred…He narrows his affectionate and gently satiric focus to the middle-American village of Mapleton and shows us a bunch of folks trying to get on with their lives…The novel intertwines these stories at a graceful pace in prose so affable that the pages keep turning without hesitation. With Perrotta at the controls, you buy the set-up and sit back as he takes off.” —Chicago Sun Times

“Perrotta combines absurd circumstance and authentic characters to wondrous effect, turning his story into a vivid exploration of what we believe, what matters most, and how, if untethered, we move on…Perrotta treats his characters with sympathy and invites the reader to do the same.” —Seattle Times

“In his provocative new novel Tom Perrotta dives straight into our unease…it's a gentle, Perrotta-esque go at sci-fi, without any mangled bodies or bombed-out buildings; it's a realistic novel built on a supernatural foundation.” —Boston Globe

“Perrotta's gift is his ability to infuse satire with warmth, to find significance in the absurd. It's easy to mock extreme forms of religious expression. It's harder to find their meaning and application. Perrotta does both in this rich and oddly reassuring read.” —More Magazine

“The best book about the Rapture since the New Testament.” —"The Bullseye" in Entertainment Weekly

“Start with what the author calls a Rapture-like phenomenon, mix in some suburban angst, and poof: All other apocalyptic fiction gets blown away.” —O, The Oprah Magazine (selected as one of the Best Fiction titles of 2011)

"The Bullseye" in Entertainment Weekly

The best book about the Rapture since the New Testament.
The Oprah Magazine (selected as one of the Best Fi O

Start with what the author calls a Rapture-like phenomenon, mix in some suburban angst, and poof: All other apocalyptic fiction gets blown away.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Media Tie-In
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)


Meet the Author

TOM PERROTTA is the author of six works of fiction, including The Wishbones and Joe College. His novels Election and Little Children were made into acclaimed and award-winning movies. He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

Brief Biography

Belmont, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
August 13, 1961
Place of Birth:
Summit, New Jersey
B.A. in English, Yale University, 1983; M.A. in English/Creative Writing, Syracuse University, 1988

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The Leftovers 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
TiBookChatter More than 1 year ago
The story is simple. In a Rapture-like event, several of the inhabitants of Mapleton disappear. Without any warning, while doing everyday things, they just.vanish. The story begins a few years later. The folks that were left behind have picked up their routines again, but they are not the same people they were before the event and they constantly ask the same question over and over again. Why? They're alive, but do they want to be? I have to tell you, it took me well over 100 pages to get into this story. I'd say, at around page 225, I started to get into it. Why did it take me so long? Well, the story is told by several different characters, and although it was never confusing to me, I found it hard to relate to them initially. They weren't all that likable. There is a weird religious cult which I really did not get, a fanatical preacher-type guy who takes on many wives, etc. Plus, the decision to begin the story three years after the event took some acceptance on my part. I felt as if I missed out on something, which may have been Perrotta's point. These characters walk around in a trance, going through the motions, yet they aren't happy. At one point I asked myself, will these characters ever be happy? Those who know me personally, know that I do not need happy characters in a story. In fact, I am a big lover of dysfunction in literature but even I wanted them to be a little bit happy. That's why this next sentence will surprise you. Strangely, I found myself liking the book quite a bit. The last few pages were very satisfying (to me) and all the little quibbles I had with it, didn't seem to matter anymore. I guess you could say that I lost myself in the ending. I think I traveled to three different rooms in my house just to ensure an uninterrupted finish and Perrotta did not disappoint! Overall, a pretty good read if you're willing to invest a little bit of time.
Valca85 More than 1 year ago
This is one incredible book. If you've not preordered your copy, I seriously urge to do so. The plot is so bizarre and yet remains believable because it deals with its very human aftermath, the way that people deal with being left behind. While in the case of this set of characters it's because of an "act of God", their reactions are as familiar to us any of us who's ever lost a loved one in any way. The way the book is structured, with many different viewpoints is complex and yet wholly satisfying, as we learn about situations between a couple, for example, from both sides. The plot is fast-paced, although it is literary fiction, so don't expect action stunts. I never found myself anywhere near bored. The characters themselves are fabulous. Well developed and carrying their own emotional baggage, they overspill from the pages. Not all of them are lovable at all times, as people are not in real life, but we do get to understand them, and even cheer for them when they accomplish something unexpected. They make the story what it is, not the plot itself. I can't recommend it highly enough, this is one book to which you have to treat yourself in the fall.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the premise is interesting the characters lack endearing and real qualities and I found it confusing as to who is speaking. The plot rarely develops and questions go unanswered – some really big ones. The Wayne hype vanishes as soon as it’s introduced and each characters' tale ends in an unfinished package tied with a cheap bow. I forced myself to finish the book and remain disappointed.
Rheanyc More than 1 year ago
Very readable....understandable characters. Perrotta made an impossible to imagine apocalypse imaginable.
nfed More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I read in 3 days. It was a fast read and easy to follow. It was set in a realistic place with realistic people. I'm glad that it took place 3 years after the rapture because if it was right after all it would be about is people questioning where everyone went. In this story, everyone is dealing with the fact that no on is coming back so they have to decide to move on with their lives or stay stagnant.  The only part I didn't like was the end! I wish there were more book to this! There are so many questions I want answered and so many things I want to know about the characters. Maybe the HBO series will answer them since Tom is actually helping with the writing and development. I definitely suggest picking it up if you are into realistic fiction. Don't expect aliens, Jesus, or anything crazy like that. Take what happened in 2011 when that crazy guy thought there was going to be a rapture and imagine if it actually came true and that is what this book is about.
JudithMoMo More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy this author he has the nuance for suburban lives down, but this book left me oddly empty, and I'm not sure why. Everyone is empty and lacking. so difficult to really care about the individuals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GreenEyedReader More than 1 year ago
PUZZLING/EXPECTED MORE Interesting concept. This is about the survivors of a "Rapture"-like event. The "Rapture" takes place in present time; the location of the survivors is suburban NJ. The characters are struggling with why they survived and their loved ones/friends etc disappeared. Each one copes in his/her own way-denial, depression, new life styles(joining various "cults"). All the characters come from the same town and are to some degree known to each other. Their stories are all different and do intersect some strongly and some peripherally. Throughout the entire story I kept waiting for something to happen....something! It wasn't a happy ending,I don't exactly know what, but something. I was left feeling puzzled and empty(maybe a sequel?). I guess the question is -what would you do/ how would you react if people significant in your life suddenly and inexplicably disappeared? I'm still feeling sort of odd/puzzled. Something to think about.
WordSzmit More than 1 year ago
This was the first Tom Perrotta book that I stopped reading halfway. I was very excited when it came out -- I was waiting eagerly to read it and had pre-ordered it. However, if you are an avid Perrotta reader, this is not his typical combination of humor and character development. I found that the characters in this book were uninteresting for the most part and lacked the freshness he usually delivers. I think Perrotta has strayed too far from what he does best. All of his other books are fabulous and I remain a die hard fan. His new short story, "Senior Season" is quite good.
Vivi45 More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting concept for a book. Now I need to read something else by this author.
GCrafish More than 1 year ago
That is probably why some folk don't like this book. It makes you think, and consider that there might be other explanations for things besides the ones we have been given. I also think the author is spot on with the way his characters deal with their collective grief. Great read. I couldn't put it down. I'm going to now begin systematically reading the rest of his works.
radioguy More than 1 year ago
This was an enjoyable ride from start to finish. Perrotta entertains the reader like few others. I'm already craving his next book.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
This book is the story of the residents of Mapleton three years after a Rapture-type event happens and some of its inhabitants disappear. This is not a religious book, but a look into the lives of several people and how they changed and cope because of "The Sudden Departure". Told in various characters' point of view, I found the story to be interesting and thought-provoking, but not quite fulfilling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book, highly recommended.
arthurpendragone More than 1 year ago
New Book.... one that cuts across the norms of the left behind series... What if a rapture came and it wasn't discriminant... Many Church people, even "Born Again," left behind, Buddhist and Atheists taken as well as individuals from other groups... Where did they go? Why are so many left over. How will the world go on? Who are we apart from those around us, those we love, how do you deal with the loss of those who mean so much to you? Why would they want to leave you or did they? Do you mean so little to them and if so where is the love? This is a book about relationships and society and reason for being... and so far, so good
ChelseaW More than 1 year ago
When a catastrophic event hits Earth and millions of people disappear without a trace, it seems the Rapture is more than a rumor. For those left behind, life is a struggle to rebuild. There's Kevin, a husband who's wife left him to join a silent cult movement with no clear purpose, and whose daughter is getting more distant by the day. There's Thomas, who drops out of college to follow religious cult leader Holy Wayne, until the day a mysterious girl shows up his doorstep. And there's Nora, who is just trying to find her way in a world of grief completely unfamiliar to her. As life moves on for these people and those around them, their paths cross in significantly small ways. I consider myself to be a fan of Tom Perrotta. After reading Joe College while actually in college, I was bitten by the Perrotta bug and have been an avid reader and follower of him ever since. It seemed every book since that first taste has gotten better and better. This newest, however, left me feeling a little lost. Some parts were absolutely amazing and had all the qualities of great writing and deep characterization that I love about Perrotta. But the book never moved along at a steady pace, and each chapter needed too many pages to ramp up to the story for me to really feel like I was constantly involved. I did like how the individual stories subtly intersected with each other with little details that weren't quite made apparent until the next chapter. Perrotta obviously took great care to plot out the lives and happenings of these characters to make sure the plot was believable. The Leftovers was still a great read, but I prefer Perrotta's other books over this one.
FiveAlarmBookReviews More than 1 year ago
I was excited to receive a copy of The Leftovers by Tom Perotta from St. Martins. I am a Tom Perotta fan and the synopsis peeked my curiosity. The Leftovers uses a Rapture-like event to shed light on human behavior when faced with tragedy. I enjoyed Tom Perotta's imagination when it comes to his weird scenes and the odd behavior of his characters. This was definitely one of those books that had me eager to find out what was going to happen next. I can only imagine that it was intentional on Perotta's part to leave some things unresolved at the end, because it almost seems fitting, considering the overall style and structure of the story. I can see where the message was that life goes on, but I would have been happier if the book came to a fuller conclusion. An obvious recommendation for Perotta fans, but also a good read for contemporary fiction fans in general as well as book clubs for its society development and many discussion topics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
autumnbluesreviews More than 1 year ago
The Leftovers is quite a unique book and totally fiction. Or is it? Although, some of what would happen if a number of people would just disappear off the face of the Earth all at once, is totally logical, some we can never know. Planes would crash, accidents on our roadways would be instant, empty seats in the classrooms and so forth. But what exactly would happen emotionally, to those left behind, after such a tragedy? Perrotta has taken this situation and brought it to life in "The Leftovers." By focusing on a few families in the community of Mapleton, one of which includes the family of the mayor, Kevin Garvey. Perrotta begins the story after the vanishing. Although it has been almost a year, wounds are still fresh for many in this small community. Others have gone back to their daily routines, including married men and women dating as if nothing had happened to their spouse. Their disapproval of this being one main reason why the Guilty Remnant has come into being. The Guilty Remnant is a cult that has recruited many since the vanishing occurred, and Laurie the mayors wife, is now one of their followers. Laurie seems to have regrets for leaving her family behind, yet she is not intending on going back, even though she is free to return anytime. In the meantime Kevin tries to lead a life that is as normal as possible, even if that means returning to the dating scene, now that his wife has deserted him. While Jill, the daughter of the mayor longs for her mother, she continues with school and hanging out with her regular group of friends. But since the vanishing her friend Amie has taken up residency in her home. Why not, they have the room now, with her mother in the cult and her brother Tom off in another direction. Tom finds he is not being able to emotionally return to his normal college routine, and decides to follow a prophet called Holy Wayne. There, Tom soon learns Wayne isn't as holy as he first thought him to be. Other characters join the mix, including Nora, the only person in the community who has lost her entire family to the vanishing. Nora finds out, after the vanishing, that her husband wasn't as dedicated to their marriage as she thought. While a former priest and member of the community decides he has the right to air the dirty laundry of those who have vanished. It took me a little while to get into this tale, maybe because it seems like such a far fetched story. I have heard of the Rapture and have read about how many Christians believe it will come to pass in this lifetime. However in The Leftovers, some of those who vanished came from all sorts of backgrounds, some where cheating husbands, others didn't believe in God, causing those left behind to question the reasons why this had happened, while trying to make sense out of it. As a reader I tried to figure out myself why those taken might have been taken, even though this is fiction it is quite thought provoking. This story reminded me of the Twilight Zone TV series or something Steven King would write. Certainly entertainment from another dimension and time, maybe even our future.