Book Review: Leave the World Behind

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND | Rumaan Alam
10.06.2020 | Ecco
Rating: 4/5 stars

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Two families have been forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong. Amanda and Clay have decided to take a reprieve from their bustling New York City life and spend some quality time with their teenage son and daughter in a remote corner of Long Island. They’ve rented a luxurious home for the next week…a home owned by G.H. and Ruth, an older couple who have just arrived in a state of panic. The city and neighboring towns are all experiencing a blackout, the TV and internet are down, and there is no cell service. Stuck in an unfamiliar, rural area, Amanda and Clay struggle with whether they should trust these strangers. 

LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND is an examination of human interaction when faced with an unthinkable situation. How far would you be willing to go to protect your family? This story highlights the types of decisions we choose to make in times of stress and joy. It examines how the complexities associated with class, race, and parenthood influence the choices we make and how we judge the decisions of others. 

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When I first picked up LEAVE THE WORLD BEHIND I wasn’t sure what to expect and the first handful of pages still left that feeling, but in a way that intrigued me more than anything. The reader gets to know Amanda, Clay, and their children from the start. The introduction to this family puts on the forefront of the reader’s mind their privilege and how that drives their lives and family dynamics. The level of details about the family ranges from the very personal to the very mundane. I saw a few reviews mention they couldn’t handle the “boring” elements of the story, such as when Alam chooses to share Amanda’s grocery list. Your girl is nosy and I was 110% here to find out what they were shopping for!

Things truly take a turn in the story once G.H. and Ruth arrive. This is where Alam begins to dig into the reality of the differences in class and race and how those things impact the way people choose to interact with one another. What drives your trust and suspicion really isn’t hard to figure out and Alam calls that out in this book. I loved how realistic everything felt, from feelings to interactions, to strange decisions from the characters. 

One thing that needs to be pointed out is that there are a lot of weird and strange things that happen around these families. A lot of it is left unexplained and that serves to drive the uneasiness of this story. I was hooked from page one and here for all of the bizarre experiences that these two families encountered. If you’re looking for something unique that brings a great examination of society, this is the book for you!


This book is available to buy from: Amazon Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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