Review: Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam


Publisher:  Bloomsbury

Publication date:  2020

Source:  Purchased

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. 

“People weren’t that connected to one another. Terrible things happened constantly and never prevented you from going out for ice cream or celebrating birthdays or going to the movies or paying your taxes or fucking your wife or worrying about the mortgage.”

A young family leave their home in New York City behind for. break in the countryside.  They rock up at this spectacular house and settle in for a relaxing break from the routine.  Before long, a couple arrive at the house claiming to be the owners, saying there’s some shit going down in the city, and can they stay?

There is nothing overtly creepy about this book,, but the author has a way of bringing in a subtle sense of unease throughout the story. It is very cleverly written and succeeds in creating such an unsettling atmosphere.  As the reader, you really have no idea what is going on, but you it’s not good.

This book has received some very mixed reviews, and I do understand why.  If you like things all tied up in a neat package with a sensible explanation, this may not be the book for you.  But I really enjoyed the ride and it left me feeling quite unsettled and creeped out.

4 stars

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