Sunday, January 1, 2012

Book Review: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

I hope everyone has had a great new year so far! I'm excited for 2012, as seems to be the general consensus. While most people spent the first day of the new year at the gym working toward their weight loss resolution, I spent my day curled up on the couch, working on mine. I'm sure you're all aware of just how nervous I am about meeting my 15,000 page goal this year, since I'm taking on a large load. Therefore, I'm trying to crank out pages right away in the new year. My 15,000 page goal demands that I read a minimum of 1,250 pages a month. I know that's not always going to be attainable, so I'll try to make up for it on my breaks. I have tomorrow off from work (hello, cleaning and reading) for the new year. I begin classes on Monday, January 9th. That gives me a short amount of time to crank out some pages, but I'll do what I can ;)

My first book of the year? Tom Perrotta's The Leftovers. I won an autographed copy of this book through Shelf Awareness, which was a complete surprise because I didn't even know they do giveaways! Anyway, I was super excited because I've seen reviews of this book, all ranked pretty highly. I was also nervous to actually pick it up because I don't believe in the Rapture. Period. I tried reading the Left Behind series on recommendations of religiously zealous friends, and could not bring myself to believe them. They were as real to me as Star Wars.

For those of you unaware of The Leftovers, here's the Goodreads summary:

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.

I was pretty impressed. This isn't a story as much about the Rapture as it is about the aftermath. Perrotta is not shoving religious beliefs upon anyone; rather, he is detailing an observance of a small community after the departure of their loved ones. The characters themselves aren't extremely likeable, but a reader finds them relate-able because of the grief the characters are facing. I found myself wanting more. The ending, in my mind, was insufficient. I sincerely hope Perrotta follows up on the community he's exposed us to.

Those of you who enjoy thinking about "what might be" and apocalyptic scenarios (maybe without the religious ties) need to check out this book.

My stats:
The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
Rating: 4/5
Pages: 355
2012 Reading Goal: 355/12,500

*Wishing you all Happy Readings in 2012*

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