Leave the World Behind - Rumaan Alam

Leave the World Behind

By Rumaan Alam

  • Release Date: 2020-10-06
  • Genre: Family
Score: 3.5
From 858 Ratings


A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

Finalist for the 2020 National Book Award (Fiction)

A Best Book of the Year From: The Washington Post * Time * NPR * Elle * Esquire * Kirkus * Library Journal * The Chicago Public Library * The New York Public Library * BookPage * The Globe and Mail * EW.com * The LA Times * USA Today * InStyle * The New Yorker * AARP * Publisher's Lunch * LitHub * Book Marks * Electric Literature * Brooklyn Based * The Boston Globe

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong.

From the bestselling author of Rich and Pretty comes a suspenseful and provocative novel 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.

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? 


  • Eyes hurt from rolling

    By KLM4030
    This book could have been so much better. I hated the writing style, overly descriptive for no reason other than to smash a bunch of words together. Picked up a bit 75% of the way through, but then just ended. Entire plot was shallow, characters were flat. So much wasted potential.
  • Leave the World Behind

    By CarolNV
    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. It kept me wanting more, held my suspense and got me thinking. Loved it!
  • Should be 100 pages

    By Sandragw
    Decent story line, relatable characters but unnecessary details and just overdone. Not the ‘page turning thriller’ I was expecting. No thank you.
  • A Book Where Nothing Happens

    By Pixxxxxxxi
    This book could have been so many things- commentary on race, class, humanity, or an apocalyptic too-topical tragedy. Instead it read like a book written based on a challenge of using SAT words. The sexual scenes were simply excuses to use the word “tumescent” and felt gross and out of place, very clearly written by a man. There was so much plot bubbling under the surface that never came up, the narrator forever dropping hints about the future of this world but never telling us... like the narrator was too distracted by these flat and boring characters to give us any real information. There was a moment where I thought the book was going to borrow from the movie District 9 and everyone was going to turn into a flamingo instead of.... what I guess was radiation poisoning that only affected one character? Not how that works but ok. I would have preferred a flamingo-based ending honestly! If you came here swayed by recommendations turn back and read anything else.
  • Anticipation no action

    By Xhudhusehfjjehecgejveh
    I was just waiting for a plot twist and nothing ever came of it
  • Exciting until it isn’t...

    By 1224556777989000
    I’ll start off by saying I was expecting a disappointing ending after reading the reviews. However, the sample I read had me hooked so I had to buy it & keep reading. I read it all in one night in the dark on a cold night. Perfect. The author did a great job writing to make you feel as if you were there with the characters experiencing the dread, panic, and rationalizing of events out of their control. Sometimes this droned on...however, I’ve read worse. The tension builds and builds as the book goes on but alas it doesn’t give you a satisfying end. This was obviously the author’s intention - a cruel joke ha - but not every book is meant to have a neat little ending to tie up all the threads & I’m okay with that the longer I thought about it. It’s almost as if this is a pilot/prelude to an apocalyptic show/movie. And there’s definitely room for more episodes. The only real gripe I had with this book was the promise of bubbling racial dynamics and dialogue that was supposed to be a main theme (per dozens of publication reviews) — this was a lie. It was there but the author didn’t do it any justice and it was mentioned in passing. I wish he’d done more with the topic. Read this book if you’re okay with mysteries that don’t have a solid neat ending. I’m curious to see how the Netflix adaptation will translate — Denzel !!
  • Didn’t get it

    By hello.ariel
    I was really, really excited to read this book. It got a lot of buzz... I was pretty disappointed. The book was overly descriptive, and the story line had no point. It ended so odd.. I wouldn’t recommend this.
  • 3ish of 5

    By MeanMad
    I enjoyed it at times. It is story that sticks with you. Characters are real and relatable, but thoughts and reflection were too rapid and contrary for me. It felt like riding too fast downhill on an old wobbly bike. Crash ending.
  • Trash Book, Terrible Ending

    By Josimil18
    The writing was so detailed for no reason. I was rolling my eyes for the majority of the book and had to force myself to finish it. The sexual parts were pretty weird, grossly detailed, and had nothing to do with the story. The book FINALLY started picking up in the last quarter of the book and I thought that the pain that I endured reading this book would be worth it, but boy was I wrong!! I’m assuming the author wanted the ending to be “thought-provoking” or whatever but it really just leaves you with zero answers to anything. I rarely find a book that I flat out don’t like, but this one left me no choice. I don’t recommend this book by a long shot!
  • Confused

    By ruze2040
    Not sure who is rating books these days. Pointless and boring!