About the Book:
A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong
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 black 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 another?
Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam’s third novel is 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.
Darkly funny and sharply observant, ‘Leave the World Behind’ is the perfect thriller to read or listen to right now. I had no idea what to expect! An the good news is that Netflix is developing a movie starring Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts. Perfect casting, by the way. The language is spare and the story is deceptively simple. And I still can’t stop thinking about this book!
The plot felt incredibly realistic. Amanda and Clay are beginning their beach vacation at a beautiful, very secluded rental home, hours away from their hectic New York City life. They are looking forward to spending time with their teenage children. They are immersed in their own little world when shockingly, a middle-aged Black couple shows up at the front door in the middle of the night. Ruth and G.H. claim they are actually the owners of the house, and sorry to intrude, but there has been some kind of blackout in the city. Can they please stay with Amanda and Clay?
That is the whole plot. To give anything else away would be to spoil this elegant, horrifying tale. Amanda is skeptical of the couple – they claim to be the owners, but there is no cell signal, internet or cable TV. How can she verify their identity? Clay is more welcoming because obviously there is something ominous going on in the outside world. Push news alerts showed up on everyone’s cell phones overnight but no one can access the actual news. How can they turn away this seemingly lovely older couple?
“If they weren’t human in this moment, then they were nothing.”
Amanda and Clay begin to worry about their children and the two couples bond over parenthood. Of course there is still the seed of doubt as to whether Ruth and G.H. are who they claim to be and whether or not they actually have an adult daughter and a grandchild. Racism rears its ugly head even though Amanda and Clay believe themselves to be liberal, open-minded people. None of them have any idea what is really happening in the world, and the author only hints at the ominous events waiting for the families beyond the thick woods.
“It was like some tacit agreement; everyone had ceded to things just falling apart. That it was common knowledge that things were bad surely meant they were actually worse.”
The narration by Marin Ireland was perfect and built the tension in just the right way. I would not call this a horror novel but it does touch on dystopian themes. The most frightening part of all was that I could actually imagine these things happening in real life. In other words, the perfect book to read right now!
I have read very mixed reviews for this book but for me, it was a winner. The tension builds and is sustained throughout the story. When one of the group falls ill, panic sets in and tensions rise. Was the illness caused by the terrible events going on in New York City and beyond? Or was it completely unrelated? I began to question what I would in the same situation, and there are no right answers to the many questions this book raises.
“However much had happened, so much more would happen.”
‘Leave the World Behind’ is relevant and thought-provoking. A must-read!
“The leader of the free world was sequestered beneath the White House but no one cared about him. Certainly not a little girl tripping through the woods and thinking about Harry Styles.”
Thank you to Libro.fm and the publisher for providing me with an audiobook listening copy in exchange for an honest review.