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Leave the World Behind Back-of-Book Description
A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong.
From the bestselling author of Rich and Pretty comes a suspenseful and provocative novel keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis.
Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.
Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other?
A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!
Finalist for the 2020 National Book Award (Fiction)
A Best Book of the Year From: The Washington Post * Time * NPR * Elle * Esquire * Kirkus * Library Journal * The Chicago Public Library * The New York Public Library * BookPage * The Globe and Mail * EW.com * The LA Times * USA Today * InStyle * The New Yorker * AARP * Publisher’s Lunch * LitHub * Book Marks * Electric Literature * Brooklyn Based * The Boston Globe
After my last few reads, I was in the mood for a quick reading thriller. So I looked at my recently purchased books and realized I had picked Leave the World Behind as my Book of The Month pick back in October of 2020. I remember its description being interesting and dark.
Well…I can’t be sure how BOTM actually described it, since it was so long ago, but I can tell you that I would not characterize Leave the World Behind as a thriller. It is definitely suspenseful and slightly gripping. But … not thrilling.
My initial thought was that the writing was super weird. It took me a few pages or even a whole chapter to realize that it’s written in third person omniscient, so the narrator (and thus, the reader) has knowledge of all times, people, places, and events. It is not limited to a single character’s perspective.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I read a book in that style. I’ve gotten so used to other ways that it felt strange – like what do I have to know what everyone is thinking and feeling the whole time!? It also made it hard to distinguish one character’s internal thoughts about themselves versus another character’s thoughts about that person.
Furthermore, the author uses a lot of large and obscure words. Now, I happen to like it when a book makes me uses new words and I have to look up their meaning. but in this case, it felt too frequent – as if he used a thesaurus just to make it seem more interesting or something.
But anyway, once I got past all this weird writing, I did in fact get really invested in the story. I was very curious to find out what would happen or what was really going on. I finished the book in one weekend! It’s not very long, but still impressive for me these days.
But then… it just kind of ends. In my opinion, the story is not wrapped up well and it feels like there’s a lot of unanswered questions. Perhaps it’s eventually going to be a series? I think that would be cool – I would definitely read the others.
Buy it now!
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Favorite Quotes From Leave the World Behind
“The brain abets the eye; eventually your expectations of a thing supersede the thing itself.”
“They had asked themselves questions when they decided to have children — do we have the money, do we have the space, do we have what it takes — but they didn’t ask what the world would be when their children grew.”
“…modern life has an uncanny tempo, one man was never meant for.”
“Enjoying a moment is a victory.”
“Optimists believed they could change the world. They thought if you looked at the bright side, the less bright side would no longer exist.”
I’m gonna say 3.5 stars. Leave the World Behind was interesting and I read it quickly, but it was hard to get used to the writing and the ending left a lot to be desired. Unless, as I wondered above, it’s part of a larger series. If that’s the case great! I’ll pick up the next book. But right now it just feels sort of unfinished.
But just because the writing was hard for me to get used to doesn’t mean it will be for other people. (I mean, just scroll back up and look at all those accolades under the description! A lot of people loved it.) So if you’re at all interested I would still recommend it to people looking for an interesting take on dystopian novels, or suspenseful quick reads. It’s a pretty short book, too – only 241 pages – so it’s not a large time commitment if you decide to give it a shot.
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