Sunday, October 9, 2011

Review: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

The LeftoversThe Leftovers by Tom Perrotta
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Tom Perrotta novel but I had heard things about his writing style that made me think that he might be right up my alley. And, based on The Leftovers, I think that might have been accurate. Let me just say it ... I really liked this novel. A lot. I think its one of those novels that is more than just a good story. It is definitely a good story but it's also the kind of novel that makes you think.

The novel centers around a community that is dealing with the sudden disappearance of random people (There is no apparent rhyme or reason for their disappearing). It is three years after the event and the bulk of the novel tells the story of the aftermath. Perrotta's focus is exploring how people respond and how they make sense of something unexplainable.

There is no doubt that Perrotta is a good writer. The story itself was unique and interesting. He creates multifaceted characters who really jump off the page. He explores a variety of difficult themes in this novel with a great deal of respect and honesty. I didn't feel that he was ever shoving his point of view down my throat and it appears that he really tried to show a variety of sides to each issue.

I said the following in my blog post about the buddy read that I did for this book but I think it captures a great deal about how this book made me feel so I wanted to share it here ...

The primary reason that I was interested in reading this book is to see what the fiction brought to light about faith and belief, particularly as it relates to religion. I appreciated how Perrotta explored these themes in the novel. Although I will say that I got a sense of where he fell in the 'believe or don't believe' camp, I don't think he shoved his personal beliefs down the readers throat which I appreciated. I found that a lot of the issues of belief and faith explored in the book did lean towards the side of stating that there are great perils in relying on outside structures for meaning in life (religious, political or otherwise). This is a sentiment that aligns closely with my own beliefs so perhaps that is why I was comfortable with the material and the leanings of the themes being explored.

I felt like there was a lot of material in the novel that really gave the reader the opportunity to explore belief and faith in new and different ways. I found myself once again thinking through my own personal beliefs as a result of the themes of this novel. Faith can be a very polarizing issue so I liked how Perrotta handles religion and its exploration in the novel. I will say that, by the end of the novel, much of my personal beliefs about faith were reinforced as a result of thinking that I did while reading the novel.

All to say - I really liked this novel and will actively pursue some of Perrotta's other novels. I like his writing. I like his exploration of interesting issues and themes. I definitely recommend this novel. It is a fascinating look into belief, faith and extremism. You can't go wrong with this one!

NOTE: You can read the entire buddy read that Carrie and I did for this book on my blog at the following link -

View all my reviews

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