The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Remember all those jokes about the Rapture? Well what if it actually happened? That is the premise of Tom Perrotta's novel The Leftovers. The "Sudden Departure," as the characters refer to it, takes people at random. Good people, bad people, people from all religions - but not all of them - just vanish. Nobody knows why it happened, how anyone was chosen, or where they went. The people left behind are left with varying degrees of emotional baggage that they need to work through.
Perrotta is truly a master of capturing suburban life in America even in this most unusual of circumstances. One woman lost her entire family and is now left alone to wonder why and go on living. One family didn't lose anyone but the experience has left them all questioning their own existence and where they fit in the world. The son joins one cult, the mother joins another cult, and the daughter shaves her head and starts doing everything a parent fears their kids will get into. The father, the mayor of the town, is just trying to hold onto whatever part of a normal life and his family that he can. There is a preacher who is angry about what he feels is a rejection from God and uses his time airing the dirty laundry of everyone who was taken. He wants to world to know that they weren't worthy.
Everything is tragically humorous and you can sympathize and empathize with the characters as they struggle. I am always so grateful for the creative minds that keep asking themselves "what if ___________ happened?" and spinning it into an incredibly entertaining story. Thank you Tom Perrotta for asking this question and writing about these wonderful characters.
Thankfully, HBO has decided to let these characters live on in a series Perrotta is writing based on the book. This seems like a wonderful opportunity for talented actors to bring some wonderful characters to life. It may just convince me to get cable.
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