#373 ~ The Leftovers

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

Published by: St. Martin’s Press

Published on: August 2011

Page Count: 368

Genre: Dystopia, fiction

My Reading Format: Digital download of the audiobook from Macmillan Audio through the Solid Gold Reviewer Program

Audiobook Published by: Macmillan Audio

Narrator: Dennis Boutsikaris

Audiobook Length: 10 hours 18 minutes

Available Formats: Hardcover, eBook and audiobook

My Review

In a post 9/11 world, waking up to find a large portion of the population simply gone without trace or explanation is not as far fetched as it could be. That’s the world of Mapelton, an otherwise quiet suburban city. It is from this vantage point that Tom Perrotta paints a picture of American life after a quasi Rapture takes place. Although many people lost family members or friends, there was no explanation for what happened. What arises from that wreckage is an interesting, thought-provoking and more often than not funny look on suburban life.

The Leftovers is populated by a large cast of characters, each with their own pre-Sudden Departure lifestyles and beliefs. I never got close to the characters the way I might, but that made sense to me. After something as earth shattering as the Sudden Departure, everyone kept everyone else at a distance. Even those people who were trying to make a connection with others had a difficult time. Their reactions and their coping mechanisms are what made this novel most interesting. What happens to one’s faith when the salvation they firmly believed in is seemingly disproved? While I might take a little evil delight in a self-righteous person not being raptured, the way in which those self-righteous people reacted to being left behind was very sad for everyone else. It was equally interesting to watch people irreligious before the Sudden Departure become so caught up in their own grief and guilt that they become yet another new form of obnoxious “believers.” Some things never change, though. Charlatans pop up to take advantage of every possible situation.

Dennis Boutsikaris has a pleasant voice. It was comfortable listening to him read the story. There was a difference in his work versus other narrators. He had great inflection and kept me interested throughout. However, the experience was more of being read to than of having it performed. There was very little change in voice or accent among the male characters and none among the female characters. The lack of vocal cues combined with Perrotta’s writing style made it difficult at times to discern who was speaking. While this was noticeable, it wasn’t disconcerting. I would listen to another book narrated by Boutsikaris, especially if it wasn’t as character-rich as The Leftovers.

The Leftovers did not replace Little Children as my favorite Tom Perrotta novel, but it was thought provoking as well as funny. I am glad to have had the opportunity to read it. I might think twice about joking around that the world would be a better place after the Rapture. The Guilty Remnant are a far worse lot to deal with.


  • At 2011.10.18 14:41, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

    I’m listening to a book that’s narrated much the same way and I just realized I have no idea what’s going on, so I need to start all over. I’m looking forward to The Leftovers in print.

    Read more from bermudaonion (Kathy)

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    • At 2011.10.18 20:30, Literate Housewife said:

      Kathy, let me know what you think of the print. I can’t say I got lost so much as I had to pay really close attention to be sure I knew what was going on.

    • At 2011.10.18 20:18, Kailana said:

      I have been hearing a lot about this book. I really should start with Little Children, though. I have heard even more positive comments on that.

      • At 2011.10.18 20:32, Literate Housewife said:

        Little Children was incredible. The Leftovers was still really good. I wasn’t able to make it through The Abstinence Teacher. The narrator was so lackluster. This narrator was good at what he had to offer.

      • At 2011.10.18 20:24, Susan said:

        Really enjoyed your review – especially your observations about the narration. Thanks so much for participating in the Solid Gold Reviewer project!

        • At 2011.10.18 20:34, Literate Housewife said:

          Susan, thanks for stopping by and for running the Solid Gold Reviewer program. This is a great opportunity. I’ll be stopping by your place tonight to drop off my link.

        • At 2011.10.18 21:59, Kimberly said:

          Aren’t the G.R. awful?!? It’s interesting to get a take on the audiobook. I haven’t read Little Children, but I really didn’t like The Abstinence Teacher, so it was nice to read something of his that I enjoyed. If you’re interested, our review is here: http://www.fancyterrible.com/2011/09/27/the-leftovers-by-tom-perrotta/

          • At 2011.10.20 10:36, Literate Housewife said:

            I tried to read THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER in audio. The narrator is a Hollywood actor and didn’t cut it in my opinion. Never tried to read it in print. From the sounds of it, it could have been the story as well. Thanks for your link!

          • At 2011.10.19 08:44, Julie said:

            As discussed via twitter last night, I enjoyed this book but I didn’t love it. Unlike you and Kimberly I did like The Abstinence Teacher but I prefer The Leftovers. Nora drove me a bit batty but towards the end when we get her big reveal I understood why she was the way she was in the novel.

            I will definitely pick up another Tom Perrotta novel, maybe I’ll go back and read Little Children.

            Here is my review if you want to read it.

            • At 2011.10.20 10:47, Literate Housewife said:

              Nora’s reveal was very interesting. I wonder if that will change in the future. I’ll have to give THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER a try in print. That’s the only way to settle this. 🙂

              Thanks for your link!

            • At 2011.10.19 10:08, Beth Hoffman said:

              I have this book on my list, but after reading your blog this morning, I think I should read Little Children first.

              • At 2011.10.20 10:52, Literate Housewife said:

                I don’t think the order of reading those books matters, but I’d be curios to see how someone who hasn’t read Perrotta before would think. You should definitely give this a read.

                • At 2011.10.20 11:22, Beth Hoffman said:

                  I will. I now have Little Children on my list!

              • At 2011.10.19 11:00, Adam said:

                Freakin’ charlatans!

                I’ve tried to win this book so many times. I would go out and buy it… but I’m holding firm to my book buying ban, particularly as November and #NaNoWriMo approach.

                • At 2011.10.20 11:02, Literate Housewife said:


                  This novel will be worth the wait in January. I think you’re going to love it.

                • At 2011.10.20 16:01, Audra said:

                  This is on my list — I’ve heard great things abt Perotta but haven’t read him yet.

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