Reviews for Leftovers

Booklist Reviews 2011 July #1
One hundred people have disappeared from tiny Mapleton, New Jersey, in a Rapture-like event that has left the community visibly shaken. Some people are miffed at being left behind, while others are inconsolable over the loss of their loved ones. Mayor Kevin Garvey struggles to give the town a sense of community by adhering to such traditional rites as parades, yet his own family seems irrevocably broken. His son has joined a cult led by the charlatan Happy Wayne; his 16-year-old, straight-A daughter has morphed into a depressed goth; and his wife has become a member of the Guilty Remnant, a group of separatist fanatics who chain smoke, refuse to speak, and stalk Mapleton's citizens to ensure that they will never forget what happened. Perrotta brings to his sixth novel his gifts for satiric humor and compassion, ultimately depicting the universal feelings of people reacting to severe trauma, yet the book doesn't quite live up to the promise of its intriguing premise. Still, there is plenty to admire in its depiction of the apocalypse, suburban style. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: In somewhat of a departure, the latest from Tom Perrotta, the best-selling king of suburban angst, features a science fiction-like premise; with a hefty first printing and a major marketing campaign. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 April #2

A bestselling novelist returns with his most ambitious book to date.

Perrotta's popular breakthrough with Little Children (2004) received additional exposure from a well-received movie adaptation, and his latest has plenty of cinematic possibility as well. The premise is as simple as it is startling (certainly for the characters involved). Without warning, the Rapture has come to pass, "the biblical prophecy came true, or at least partly true. People disappeared, millions of them at the same time, all over the world." Yet the novel's focus isn't religious, and it really doesn't concern itself with what happened or why. Instead, as the title suggests, it deals exclusively with those left behind, how they deal with something few had anticipated and fewer had expected to experience. Their world has changed irrevocably, yet in some ways it hasn't really changed all that much. Life goes on, for the living, though the missing leave huge holes in it. Some deny the religious implications, preferring to refer to the more secular "Sudden Departure"; others question why those with deep flaws had been among the elect. A group that has dubbed itself the "Guilty Remnant" bears silent witness to the world of sin while awaiting its own judgment and reward. The wife of the town's mayor leaves her home to join them, though "she hadn't been raised to believe in much of anything, except the foolishness of belief itself." Their son disappears from college to join the "Healing Hug" movement; their high-school daughter loses her bearings as the family disintegrates. 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.

There's even a happy ending of sorts, as characters adapt and keep going, fortified by the knowledge that they "were more than the sum of what had been taken from" them.

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2011 March #2

No, not dinner; the "leftovers" are the folks who didn't depart when a Rapture-like event empties cushy suburban Mapleton of 100 people. The leftovers are feeling pretty abandoned, and the new mayor is trying to help them get over it, but his wife has joined a cult, his son is following a prophet named Holy Wayne, and his daughter is not exactly her sweet, happy self. Perrotta excels at nailing the angst of Middle America, so this should be good.

[Page 101]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Reviews 2011 August #1

October 14 looked like any other day in the leafy New England enclave of Mapleton--until it didn't. Eighty-seven townspeople and millions more around the world simply disappeared. Cars careened with no one behind the wheel, school kids were without teachers, food went uneaten on dinner tables, and lovers found themselves abandoned. The Rapture? No one knows. What we do know is that the psychological trauma for those left behind is overwhelming, and who better than Perrotta, known for his ability to zero in on the vicissitudes of middle-class America (Little Children; The Abstinence Teacher) to grapple with the impact? Three years after "The Sudden Departure," Kevin Garvey's wife has joined a cult, son Tom has ditched college to follow guru Holy Wayne, and lovely daughter Jill has shaved her head and taken up with stoners. Nora Durst's life is in a holding pattern as she awaits the return of her husband and child, while Reverend Jamison, enraged at being passed over, publishes a newsletter exposing the failings of the missing. VERDICT Perrotta has taken a subject that could easily slip into slapstick and imbued it with gravitas. Like Richard Russo, he softens the sting of satire with deep compassion for his characters in all their confusion, guilt, grief, and humanity. [See Prepub Alert, 2/21/11.]--Sally Bissell, Lee Cty. Lib. Syst., Ft. Myers, FL

[Page 86]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 June #1

Perrotta (The Abstinence Teacher) gets seriously dystopian with his sixth novel when millions of people vanish into thin air one fine October day. Although the "Sudden Departure" resembles the Rapture, it was a secular event, leaving a hodgepodge of survivors with neither solace nor faith. Despite the fact that her family was left intact, suburban housewife Laurie Garvey feels compelled to leave her husband, the mayor of Mapleton, and their two teenage children, to join the Guilty Remnant, a cult that still believes the end of the world is nigh. G.R. members must obey three rules: remain silent, wear white, and smoke cigarettes. Perrotta wittily and economically establishes this intriguing premise, but then largely sidelines his sharp satiric eye in favor of a straightforward examination of loss and bewilderment. Laurie's motivations are frustratingly vague: "She had joined the G.R. because... she had no choice." The senseless, sometimes absurd mission of the cult mirrors the gaping hole blown into modern morality, as hapless survivors trudge about, failing to connect in meaningful ways. Laurie's daughter, Jill, is morally adrift, and her son, Tom, comes under the sway of a charlatan religious healer, until suffering a cruel disillusionment. Though all the ennui is surely the point, the end of the world isn't much fun. (Sept.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC