This book is stunning. Just: STUNNING.
It goes from banal-family-vacation to the-world-is-ending-disaster at a pace that rivals your quickening heartbeat.
Alam uses everyday events, like doing laundry and grocery shopping (that list!), to elevate the characters’ humanity and eviscerate them at the same time.
It’s this incisiveness that allows LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND to really explore class politics and racism, isolation and the trust we choose to put in strangers during an unprecedented catastrophe without diverting any fear from the plot itself. Its events surprise and shock you, tension unfolding as though you were experiencing them yourself.
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 with a late-night knock on the door, the spell is broken. Ruth and G. H., an older couple who claim to own the home, have arrived there in a panic. These strangers say that a sudden blackout has swept New York, and—with nowhere else to turn—they’ve come to the country in search of shelter.
But with the TV and internet down, and no cell phone service, the facts are unknowable. Should Amanda and Clay trust this intruding couple—and vice versa? What has happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from each other?
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.