Today Janet from Outreach Services reviews an unusual novel that book groups may want to consider:
From the author of Little Children comes The Leftovers, a contemporary tale that explores the chilling effect grief has on those left behind in a community in the wake of an unexplainable, rapture-like event.
The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic world in a suburban town in the Unites States. Three years have passed since millions of random souls instantly disappeared from the earth in what is called the Sudden Departure. In a puff, millions of random adults and children, believers and non-believers, all vanished without warning and without reason. Left behind are citizens of Mapleton, residents who move through their daily lives burdened by an overwhelming sense of loss after the disappearance of their loved ones, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
The central characters are members of two families, the Garveys and the Dursts. Kevin and Laurie Garvey, their teenage daughter Jill, and college-age son Tom are alive but the family unit is fractured. Kevin, Mapleton’s mayor, bravely moves forward with his public duties while struggling to run a household that no longer exists. Laurie seeks peace and purpose by moving out of the family home to join a religious cult whose members find meaning in wearing white, chain smoking cigarettes, and shunning all human relationships. Tom and Jill seek explanation and love in quirky and often self-destructive ways. Nora Durst, a young mother, wife, and only remaining member of her family, lives with the memory of their sudden disappearance from her dining room table. Nora goes through the motions of daily living haunted by feelings of loss and guilt. These and other characters try to cope using a variety of techniques, including indifference, avoidance, depression, acting out, and alienation.
A great book club title, The Leftovers compels you to talk about big questions involving love and loss, grief, moving forward in life, and community. Not all members of my book group were drawn to the characters, but the themes of the books—and the jarring ending—kept us talking.
Check the WRL catalog for The Leftovers