Title: Leave the World Behind
Author: Rumaan Alam
Genre: Psychological thriller
Hands down the best book I’ve read so far this year. How’s that for a first line of a review? This book is exactly the type I love. Beautiful language, interesting characters, disaster-type plot, dark, tense, but subdued in its entirety. The terror I felt while reading was so palpable, yet there really was not a certain thing to be afraid of. It’s not like there was a concrete horror, but more of an underlying what in the world will happen next. Alam captured the mood perfectly.
From Goodreads: 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.
This book struck me as a less horrifying version of Cabin at the End of the World, which I also absolutely loved. The fact that the characters know there’s a blackout but have no idea why it’s happening or if there are other events happening out there is really traumatizing. Alam has a clever way of hinting at outside events to the reader without letting the characters in on the information. The characters react in realistic ways, trying to figure out what to do next, solve whatever problems (and there are many) arise, but they aren’t perfect. They cry and scream and meltdown, because who wouldn’t? But Alam’s writing is to be recognized. The understated way he captures parenthood is gorgeous. Any parent knows that feeling the weight of their child against them is a moment of perfection. I didn’t want this book to end. I loved everything about it, and it’s one I’ll be thinking about for quite some time.