The Leftovers (TV tie-in edition)

The Leftovers (TV tie-in edition)

3.3 199
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 3.3 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 199 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.
Mupples More than 1 year ago
He does really well writing about relationships and how people interact with eachother. He set this 3 years after the rapture occured and how a small town deals with loss and change. I just kept waiting for something to happen and then I realize I'm at the end of the book and this is it. I actually think this was slightly worse then The Abstinence Teacher because there was too many plotholes and lose ends. What happened to everyone? Not one character narrative was concluded. The story just literally droped off. Like this review-
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
Not enjoyable. Characters were not well developed, the use of gratuitous sex added nothing to the story line and the ending left me with many more questions than answers....
HedgeW More than 1 year ago
I'm not a lit expert, so take his with grain of salt. I expected top-notch sci-fi, or philosophical/religious explorations in this novel, which has a great premise. There are some good expositions of the various human responses to the premise - what would happen if many people suddenly disappeared, as if the rapture happened - except they were not all Christian, they were not all saintly, in fact the disappeared seemed to be just a random selection of human individuals. Was there a common thread? Was there an explanation of the common factor? Without giving the ending away, I was disappointed by the final chapter. But then, I may have had the wrong expectations. I also find the author's prose style less than exhilarating. That is compared to a Dickens or a Hemingway, so again, you may find this your cup of tea. That is, easy reading and common dialog. Out of ***** I'd say **1/2 - I did read it end-to-end to find out how it all resolved. It resolves with a twist or two.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I kept reading waiting for the "-and then..." it never came. disapointing but well written read. After all I did finish it.
purplerose75 More than 1 year ago
It's been three years since the Rapture-like event during which millions of people all over Earth randomly disappeared. Whatever triggered the Sudden Departure, though did not discriminate between religions, race, age, or behavior. There was no rhyme or reason to explain who was taken and who remained. Survivors use different methods to cope. Some, like Laurie Garvey are convinced that the event truly was the Biblical Rapture and join the Guilty Remnant, a cult whose members are never seen in public without a lit cigarette, and are determined to do whatever is necessary to remind everyone that the end is nigh. Her son, Tom, drops out of college and ends up in a cult of his own. After he meets one of the "wives" of his cult leader, his views slowly begin changing, but he's still chasing dreams and searching for answers. Her daughter, Jill, has gone from a model student to a party girl who comes home late and is failing classes. Laurie's husband, Kevin, is busy trying to keep his family together while helping the town to move on. Just when he thinks he will be able to move his own personal life forward, things come to a screeching halt. I liked that this book was unpredictable. There wasn't a lot of foreshadowing in the story, which made for an interesting read. A few little clues are okay, but I like some surprises. I didn't really like the way the story ended, but I think that was more because I didn't agree with some of the character's decisions than because of any lack in the story itself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first book where I've been prompted to actually write a review. This book was very easy to read. It was an enjoyable reading experience, just not a great story. This is unfortunate because the concept is great. I was not left feeling satisfied in the end. I WANT to like it, and I don't dislike it, it was just...a book. (Spoilers?): I think my issue with it was that the story went nowhere. There was no wrap up. You feel like this might be part of a series. If it were, I probably wouldn't continue reading because the characters weren't particularly engaging.
watson3rd More than 1 year ago
The book gives interesting ideas of what could be, but tends to be choppy middle to end. There were a couple of surprises, it held my interest about half way then I began to rush the read.
enticed More than 1 year ago
Wonderful read! It's not my normal taste in books so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately or fortunately this is probably one of the few exceptions to reading the book first as opposed to watching it on film. It was extremely disappointing I have to say that for once the T.V. series is actually better than the book. The ending was lacking to say the least, so disappointing. As an avid reader I almost always find the book 100% better than the film, series, etc., this was not the case. Would not recommend the book, watch the series on T.V.
melzib More than 1 year ago
When I finished this book, my only disappointment was that I did not know more about what happened to the characters further in the future. Perhaps the author will do a sequel?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hadn't read anything by this author before, but I thought the story idea sounded very interesting. Unfortunately, because of the way he set it up, I felt like I was just getting interested in the characters when the last page came around. I didn't feel like I got closure on any of them, and the book was almost 300 pages long. I wouldn't recommend it.
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was hugely disappointing to me. It had such promise and could have gone several great directions but it went nowhere slowly. Read the other reviews and choose wisly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting premise with a lot of promise, but the book is lacking. Character development was thin. And the ending was abrupt with many loose ends in my opinion.
Rheanyc More than 1 year ago
Very readable....understandable characters. Perrotta made an impossible to imagine apocalypse imaginable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tom Perrotta is very good at developing characters you can fully imagine, and get to know. I was very excited to read this, and expected it to be much more creepy that it was (my mistake). The world is normal, and then one day, folks just vanish - disappear. I love his take on the whole Rapture thing, and the reactions that society had reference the seemingly random choosing of people to disappear was brilliant. Working with, around, and sometimes against the religious theme, Perrotta delved into the stories of those left behind. Some joined cults (where smoking was mandatory), some became the Barefoot people (no shoes, please), and some just tried to live as normally as they did before the disappearance. I think I was a bit disappointed in the ending, because I had it figured out pretty early on. However, I would say the rest of the novel was not bad, and I did enjoy some of the characters. I think on the whole, I was expecting a bit more. Good premise though!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intrigued by the subject but not quite as engaging as i had hoped.
Loves2ReadSB More than 1 year ago
The other reviews I read for this book, prior to purchasing, were glowing, so I was excited to read this book. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. I found the book to be rather boring, and none of the characters were particularly likable, nor did their stories elicit any sort of empathy for them. The premise of the book is great, but the book did not deliver.
alamedawww More than 1 year ago
This book has gotten terrific reviews, but, for me, it just didn't live up to expectations. The concept -- an event similar to the "Rapture", but affecting an apparently random collection of people around the planet -- is intriguing. How would ordinary people respond if something like that happened? But the characters are, perhaps, a little too ordinary, too shallow. Sure, they're deeply hurt when family members suddenly disappear. They look for meaning. Some of them form a cult. Some have affairs. But we never really see into their hearts, feel what they're feeling, and know them at anything but a superficial level. The writing, itself, is as bland as the characters: simple, matter-of-fact sentences, plain and simple descriptions. No embellishment, no deep insights, no surprises. Maybe this is how it would be. Maybe we're all just that boring.
Grand_Master_J_Dizzle More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed most of this book and it made me wonder how it really would be if something like this actually happened. The ending of the book ruined the whole thing though. It was like the author got bored of writing the book and just gave up instead of finishing it. For that reason alone, I don't recommend reading it. It was such a letdown.
JavaJennifer_va More than 1 year ago
I became facinated by The Rapture during a photo contest that appeared on the popular website, Regretsy in which people were featured in compromising positions, driving a car, in the throes of passion drinking a latte when they simply vanished. The pictures were meant to be funny. Less funny than the Sudden Departure, or the guilt of surviving it, of being devout but not chosen, of being the only one in your family left behind. The seeking for understanding where there is none. In Tom Perrott's The Leftovers, we explore a community of co-dependents living in post-Rapture Mapleton who measure the degree to which they are or aren't "ok" against neighbors and friends. It is a book of staggering loss and vivid redemption and in the end great hope. The story is "real" in ways that, post 9/11 ,call to mind the unexplicable nature of true tragedy and begs the question, If you survived the appocolypse... would you want to? This would be a terrific book club club selection!
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