Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Read With Us: Leave the World Behind

I'm here today with our first promotional post for the next Read With Us book: Leave the World Behind

The US cover has a picture of a placid swimming pool at night, but this calm image belies the turmoil within. The UK cover on the right doesn't give away much more, just the fact that deer figure into the story somehow. It's the story of how an upper-middle-class white family from Brooklyn and a wealthy Black couple from the Upper East Side deal with something going on out there, while accidentally sharing a vacation home. The elements of possible but unknown disaster are not just happening outside, but age, gender, wealth, and racial stereotypes are at play within, happening in the vacation home and in the characters' minds. 

So why do I think you should read this book? It's a disaster novel without a defined disaster, so Alam keeps the reader fairly close to the characters. I found them and their thought processes interesting. Amanda and her husband Clay are vacationing at an Airbnb on Long Island with their two teenage children. The Black owners of the house, G.H. and Ruth Washington, show up late at night, and we are treated to Amanda's internal monologue which has racist tones, but she is conscious enough of them to try to not appear racist. There is also an omniscient narrator that reveals only small bits of information to keep the reader just a bit more informed than the characters.

The characters' reactions to the unknown are also interesting - fill the bathtub with water, think that the cash they have stashed away might help them, or bake a cake. I read the book with a growing sense of doom; how were these people going to cope, get through the upheaval, and move to the "new normal" (how often have we have that term in the last year)? So my biggest reason for wanting people to read Leave the World Behind is that it raises more questions than it answers. This may not be the type of book you typically read, but it does seem ideal for the first Read With Us book of 2021. We had a wonderful "in-person" Zoom discussion of The Women of Brewster Place, and I predict that the discussion of this book could be even better. And isn't that why book groups exist - to discuss, explore, be exposed to other viewpoints, learn, appreciate, and grow? So we'd love it if you read Leave the World Behind and love it even more if you discussed it with us!


  1. Great job, Bonny. I hope our friends will really like this book!

  2. Ooo! I am hoping I move up on the wait list!! This books sounds so intriguing! (and I love your thoughts on the book covers! It is good to know that I am not the only person who looks at a cover and wonders!)

  3. I am really looking forward to reading this one. I've got about five weeks to go, according to the library app, but usually those estimates are really conservative. I think this will definitely be one that will benefit from an in-person discussion.

  4. I would join with you, but there are currently 106 holds on this book at the library. If I can get it through the school where I work, I will read and join, otherwise, I will have to just read everyone's thoughts when you discuss. Have a good week!

  5. It landed in my Overdrive in-box today! I pushed it out a few weeks so it will be fresh for the discussion. Looking forward to it - thanks Bonny!

  6. The best thing about book groups (well, except for the friendships . . . ) is talking about "chewy" books together. And this one is definitely "chewy!" Probably not a "favorite read" for most of us -- but a LOT to talk about and discuss together, for sure. It's an interesting book and a quick read; timely and rather unnerving. A perfect book group book!


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