Wednesday, September 26, 2012

THE LEFTOVERS by Tom Perrotta

A number of persons, not necessarily all virtuous, have been scooped up into heaven by The Rapture.  At least, that's what everyone assumes when family and friends suddenly just evaporate into thin air on Oct. 14.  The town of Mapleton has its own list of unlikely vanishers, including Nora's husband Doug, who was having an affair with a much younger woman.  In fact, Nora's kids vaporized also, and she has suffered probably the biggest loss of loved ones in Mapleton.  However, Nora's not the only one having trouble coping.  Laurie, whose family has remained intact, becomes so unmoored by the event that she abandons her life to join the Guilty Remnant, a bizarre cult that requires all members to smoke, stalk their former neighbors, relinquish all tokens of their previous lives, and make martyrs of themselves or their fellow members.  In fact, most everyone has lost their rudder, not knowing when/if they, "the leftovers," will disappear as well.  Rather than relish and enjoy each day as a gift, many of Mapleton's residents have basically given up or joined some fanatical group in order to find some sort of safe harbor.  Laurie's son, Tom, has become a follower of Holy Wayne, who has a string of teenage wives, while Laurie's teenage daughter, Jill, has veered off course, under the not-so-watchful eye of her father, Kevin, mayor of Mapleton.  Kevin and the barely functioning Nora strike up a tentative relationship, but really everyone is avoiding committed relationships, given that one or both parties could suddenly go poof.  Life is uncertain anyway, though, and maybe that's Perrotta's point.  Enjoy what you've got while you've got it; attitudes of gloom and doom just make matters worse.  I loved the ending, which provides a glimmer of hope that not everyone will go off the deep end.

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