Leave the World Behind

Leave the World Behind

A Novel

Book - 2020
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong. 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 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 other? 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." -- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York, NY : Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, [2020]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062667632
Characteristics: 241 pages ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

I love a good dystopian novel and was excited to get my hands on this one. And while it isn't so much about survival as it is about the unknown, it's so well-written and witty and suspenseful that I still came away from reading it completely satisfied. With two different families intersecting at... Read More »

Also available as an eBook and on eAudio.

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 16, 2021

Mystery recommended by Goodreads editors. 2021

Jan 08, 2021

A very quiet end of the world ... Leave the World Behind is a slow creep of a novel, playing into our fears of isolation and disaster. This book is good, not great, and the author really leans into using $10 words, just for the sake of using them - which I find annoying, mostly. The richest part of the book was the description of the food (a lot of food), which was excellently done and made me hungry. The author also excels at creating a sense of impending doom.

JCLFlanneryC Jan 02, 2021

This is, unfortunately, a tedious and overwritten book that I should have put down when it described the way "the swimsuit outlined the gentle mound of her pudenda" but for some reason (?) kept reading. The white yuppie family at the heart of this story is predictably awful and boring and the black homeowners that arrive halfway through flat and two-dimensional, this is a meaningless allegory and a boring book. Boo!

Dec 28, 2020

Globe 100 2020. Finalist National book award. Two white renters surprised by black owners, escaping NYC.

Dec 23, 2020

There's nothing I like better than that minor miracle -- a serious, literary, layered page-turner. Something really bad happens and two families (mom, dad, two teens and an older couple) are thrown together by circumstance to bear up through the claustrophobic, dread-filled, terrifying uncertainty. This book is the definition of a slow burn; there is little action and instead lots of interior ruminations and normal interacting in a decidedly un-normal time. There's some sly satirical parts, along with pointed examinations of race and class and privilege. Alam's writing style is different: wordy, overwritten, intense, metaphoric. And I loved it. This definitely hit my particular sweet spots, despite nudging a little too close to home in these COVID times. Warning: granted, I am a ridiculously and pathetically squeamish person, but I did need to lay down at a few places while reading.

Dec 16, 2020

Spooky! A quick escapist read with short chapters.

Dec 14, 2020

The question leading me eagerly through this book is "What is really going on?" Alam's descriptive style adds deeper narrative to an otherwise simple going story- family vacation, sudden blackout, visitors... sudden exploding noise, unexpected illness. I soon found Alam's cadence that made his writing so enjoyable. "How quickly they spread out: a tangle of dirty underwear, used paper napkin, magazine, glass of water, all these little signs that they existed and endured. Trees marked their lives in rings that can't be seen; people, in the garbage they left everywhere, a way of insisting on their own importance. Amanda began righting the room." It's easy to expect a cut and dry ending. I'm not so sure.

Dec 09, 2020

Book OK. Wish the author would have more fully explained what caused the castrophe; or maybe the author did and I just didn't get it??? If this had been clearer to me, I would have enjoyed the book much, much more.

Dec 03, 2020

You will think about this book. At first, I was annoyed - feeling maybe the smugness of the author setting up a moral play on our racial baggage and our so-called freedom while chained to technology . But, the imagery is well-crafted and the ending is classic.

Nov 30, 2020

I definitely had a love/hate relationship with this unsettling book. But I finished it in something like two days.
It definitely takes you on some detours. At one point you're settling in to a sly look at preconceived notions between the races but then it veers into something deeply sinister as it's revealed that something has happened in NYC...and later we learn it's pretty much an event that's taken out much more than a city.
How do we deal with the unexpected? Particularly when we don't even know what the unexpected involves.
I'd recommend this book for the conversation it's sure to inspire. We live in unsettling times, but Leave the World Behind gives us an idea of just how unsettling things can get.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Nov 26, 2020

We're all machines...You get to choose the nature of the machine you are. We're all machines, but some of us are smart enough that we get to determine our programming.

Nov 26, 2020

You never know when a time is the last time, because if you did you could never go on with life.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at HCL

To Top