A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend that goes terribly wrong.
Amanda and Clay head to a remote corner of Long Island hoping for a vacation: a quiet respite from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious house. that they rented for the week. But with a knock on the door late at night, the spell is broken. Ruth and GH, an older couple who claim to own the house, have arrived there in a panic. These strangers say that a sudden blackout has swept through the city and, with nowhere else to go, they have come to the countryside for shelter.
But with TV and Internet down, and no phone service, the facts are unknown. Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple and vice versa? What happened in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for your families? And are they safe from each other?
Leave the world behind is another one of the books that was recommended to me as part of my reading spa earlier this year. It’s a novel I had heard of before, but for some reason it hadn’t caught my attention until my bibliotherapist told me about it. It turned out to be an excellent recommendation.
The novel’s premise is deceptively simple and it’s all too easy to imagine yourself in the position Amanda and Clay find themselves in when their vacation doesn’t go as planned, wondering what they could do instead. From New York, they have rented a luxury house in the country for a week, with the intention of disconnecting from everything and enjoying family time with their two children. The house and location are perfect, and if the Wi-Fi and phone signal is a bit spotty, it only adds to the charm of the place and reinforces the intent to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
His peace is interrupted one night by a knock on the door. A couple, introducing themselves as GH and Ruth, claim to own the property. They also bring a story with them: a claim of a blackout in New York, of unknown cause, that has driven them out of town in search of the safety of their home, even though it has been rented for a week. Amanda and Clay have no choice but to let them in, albeit with reservations. How do you know these people are who they say they are and what might have happened that won’t be resolved quickly?
This introduces a wonderful edge of tension to the novel. Amanda and Clay, along with the reader, can’t help but wonder if GH and Ruth are being completely honest with them or if they have some ulterior motive. If they’re being honest, why does your house still have power and how much longer will it last? Alam builds this tension brilliantly: not the outright horror that some apocalyptic novels strive for, but I love the feeling of being hamstrung by the unknown and not knowing if there’s anything to worry about while simultaneously spiraling downward. getting darker. what if” scenarios. The tension makes this an absolutely gripping read, even though it’s not an event-driven novel.
This didn’t seem like the kind of house where blacks lived.
Through Amanda, and to a lesser extent Clay, Alam highlights the prejudices that some still carry with them. I don’t think either of them do anything to outwardly show any prejudice against GH and Ruth -although it’s not for me to say what is and isn’t racist- but their inner thoughts give them away. They feel like they have to let this couple in as a way to show their openness and acceptance of them, even when Amanda thinks this is the kind of attitude “a cunning black criminal could take advantage of.” Amanda even wonders if GH and Ruth are, respectively, the handyman and the maid. He is shocking to the reader and feels old-fashioned, and yet he certainly echoes the experiences that many still grapple with.
Despite this, the two families soon learn to co-exist, and there is a strange sense of keeping up appearances and a decidedly British, despite the American setting, “keep calm and carry on” attitude, even as they worry about events outside. of his family. control. Living with others, even temporarily, is strange, I think, and the discomfort on both sides is palpable as they must get used to each other’s habits. It is an effective contrast between the relaxed and carefree attitude of the family at the beginning of the novel and the concern that soon becomes embedded in their every thought and action. It’s a reminder of how quickly our comfortable lives and rose-tinted glasses can take us away.
Leave the world behind is a tense and engaging novel that explores an ambiguous doomsday scenario of variety “not with a bang but with a groan.” I found it deeply disturbing, as it’s so easy to imagine yourself in this scenario, not knowing what’s going on, but aware that something is going on. Recommended.