Book Review: Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Book Review_ Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam, Feature Image

Isn’t it interesting how our closest bonds are formed differently, and new ones are found during times of crisis? Does it kick you to think about this? This is because I got a kick out of it. Don’t worry; your curiosity won’t last long as the novel I’m reviewing this time won’t disappoint. Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam explores how relationships are reshaped at the moment and the complexities of race, class, parenthood, and many more. Let’s find out.

It is a riveting story about what the world looks like when it’s ending, not unlike the world we live in now, Leave the World Behind is elegant, sensual, thrilling, and stressful. It offers a compelling analysis of race, class, and family. Leave the World Behind explores how our strongest bonds are reshaped and unexpected ones are formed during times of crisis.

The novel “Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam” is about a family vacation interrupted by an unexpected visitor and a mysterious blackout. As an event has taken place, Two families, who have never met, are forced together for a long weekend, and something goes wrong, and things cannot be the way they were.

The event that kicks off this story could happen to anyone but probably won’t. And for knowing this, you need to stay at the end. Let’s head into this intriguing tale without too many spoilers.

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam | Book Review 

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam _ Quotes 

About the Author 

Rumaan Alam 

Rumaan Alam is an American writer who has written several novels, including Rich and Pretty, That Kind of Mother and Leaves the World Behind. Rumaan Alam was born in 1977 and grew up in Washington, DC. In the 1970s, his parents moved from Bangladesh, searching for higher education and stable life. After graduating from Oberlin College, he moved to New York City.

In addition to writing for the New York Times, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Bookforum, and The New Republic, he hosts two podcasts for Slate. In 2020, Leave The World Behind was his third novel to be published.

Book Overview | Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Leave The World Behind is a literary fiction suspense novel by Rumaan Alam. Leave the world Behind made it to the New York Times bestseller list and is a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award (Fiction). The book, Leave the World Behind is poised to be one of the biggest titles of the fall. Netflix has already picked it up for its fall TV series.

 Many publications have named this book the best book of the year, including the Washington Post, Kirkus, NPR, library journal, the New Yorker, USA Today, Book Marks, InStyle, etc.

Publication date: 6 October 2020

Publisher: Ecco  

Language: English

Length: 272 (may vary)

Genre: Literary fiction, Thriller, suspense

Setting: At an isolated vacation house in New York City, the story takes place in a small, unnamed town on Long Island.

Point of view: The novel is told from close third-person perspectives, so we get to see from each character’s perspective. The author writes from multiple points of view, switching between six people’s perspectives, including the children’s. In some scenes, we see the viewpoints of all four adults.

Major themes: The book explores issues such as racism, climate change, parenting, greed, and of course, Armageddon in a suspenseful and provocative manner. It uses horror tropes to explore the effects of race, class, and prejudice. The central idea in Leave the World Behind is that an apocalyptic event would most likely not appear like what we expect, which is a crucial component of the Leave the World Behind theme.

Main character: Among the raspberry fields on Long Island, Amanda, an advertising account director, her husband Clay, a tenured professor and book critic, and their two children, fifteen-year-old Archie and thirteen-year-old Rosie, have rented an Airbnb in rural Long Island so they can have their vocation. That was abruptly interrupted when G. H. and Ruth Washington, the home’s rightful owners, arrived late one night asking for a pardon.

Summary of the Book | Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

The story begins with a middle-class white couple, Amanda and Clay, along with their teenage children Archie and Rose, driving from Brooklyn to the Hamptons for a summer escape and staying at a luxurious home. It’s a sheltered Airbnb with a swimming pool lit up at night, a hot tub, and marble countertops. They got it for a family vacation on Long Island.

An unexpected visitor’s late-night knock at the door shattered the family’s peaceful vacation. They were the black owners of the house. GH (George) Washington and his wife, Ruth, were at the door, asking to come in about a significant unknown event that knocked out the eastern seaboard’s power. They explained that a blackout had occurred, and they came into a panic.

They bring the news of a blackout. There is no cell phone service in this rural area, where the TV and internet are gone. This happens out in the city. They recall that this happened as “a blackout,”; but the scale feels far more significant.

As the days pass, the tension between the two families rises, and fear takes over. There are no cellphones, radios, or TVs, and they are not working, so they are entirely cut off from the outside world and unaware of what is happening outside their home.

Despite the uncertainty, the two families- one Black, one White; one old, one young; one rich, one middle class – are forced to unite, to help support each other and survive as they search for answers and adjust to what increasingly appears to be the new normal.

In the aftermath of the blackout, it becomes apparent that something larger has taken place-and nothing is safe. Could there have been a nuclear accident, a climate disaster, a war, a terrorist attack, or a bomb?

What to take away from the book? Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam Book Cover
Source: Book Club Chat

Leave The World Behind is a literary thriller closely examining one of the most basic human relationships among six strangers trapped inside one house as they try to comprehend what is happening in the world around them. 

As a page-turner and an expressive commentary on modern American life, Leave the World Behind tackles some of the most common twists of contemporary life: class and race. The author digs deep into the protagonists’ minds and internal narratives and focuses more on character, prejudice, and morality than on the plot.

The writing is sharp and intelligent, and the mix of genres works, but the use of unknown words occasionally and some personal information that was over-explained are worth overlooking. 

This book is concerned with converting whiteness into middle-class respectability for people who care about their professional lives and think about what it means to be a spouse. These are the conventions of a literary novel.

What do I think about the book? Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

The book explores two families torn apart by modern life, which is fast-paced and haunting. As the reader moves through the book, a new voice interjects an omniscient narrator who progressively gives us access to what is taking place across the country.

It is addictive to turn the pages because Alam compels the reader forward with unpredictable horrors with both frightening and curious senses. The narrative, however, never dwells too long in any one location, depriving us of information and making our journey more mysterious.

One thing after another is thrown at you, and nothing makes sense. These strange things don’t seem connected. They feel so random. I am left very unsettled. The book is very confusing, and you keep reading, thinking you’ll get answers. You get slight hints at what is going on, but I am still confused. I would love to read more books like this.

Despite facing fundamental uncertainty about the outside world, the characters in this book spend a lot of time worrying about immaterial things, which you will find out as you explore the book more.

Rating of the book

In my opinion, the novel “Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam” deserves 3.5 stars out of 5.

Conclusion & Recommendations | Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam

It is short and quick to read, and once you start, you are captivated by what is happening. It is not horror, but many strange things are happening, but you will be amazed.

As a book that examines race, class, and family, and as it discusses race, risk, retreat, and the ripple effects of a national emergency, I would highly recommend this book.

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