It’s been said before, but needs to be said again: Tom Perrotta knows suburbia. In his previous works (“Election,” “The Abstinence Teacher” and “Little Children”), Perrotta used his unique perspective to tackle the everyday challenges and worries – both real and ridiculous – of his characters that populate the suburbs of America. And nowhere is that done to better effect than his latest novel “The Leftovers.”
Absolutely absorbing from the first few pages on, Perrotta takes a completely absurd concept and makes it not only seem plausible, but outright fascinating. The book kicks off after what may or may not have been The Rapture. Millions have simply instantaneously disappeared – children and adults, Atheists and the religiously devout – with no explanation. Because many who assumed themselves to be Christian where left behind, including the leaders of churches and some of the departed were not exactly model citizens, those left behind (the leftovers) are not entirely sure it was a religious natural selection. Regardless those who remained on earth, including the small New Jersey town where Perrotta sets the book, struggle to make sense of the event and carry on. Some join cults while others simply try to move on with their lives.
Fantastic plot aside, its Perrotta’s instantly relatable characters, like those in all of his previous books, that make “The Leftovers” stand out from all the other current tales from suburbia.