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The Leftovers Summary & Study Guide

Tom Perrotta
This Study Guide consists of approximately 51 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Leftovers.
This section contains 713 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Leftovers Summary & Study Guide Description

The Leftovers Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta.

“The Leftovers” by Tom Perrotta is the story of a devastating tragedy that took place in the far reaches of the world on October 14th three years before the story unfolds. The Sudden Departure as it came to be known was the day that people just literally disappeared into thin air. Some people referred to the event as the Rapture; others refused to attach any religious significance to it and had other theories; most were just clueless. One aspect of the occurrence that everyone agreed with was that the impact on the “leftovers” – those left behind by missing loved ones – was tragic and devastating and had turned lives upside down.

The focus of “Leftovers” is the impact that the event had on Mapleton, a small town in Mid-America where Kevin Garvey is the Mayor. He didn’t directly lose anyone on the Sudden Departure but the event had a profound effect on his life and family. His wife, Laurie, was swept up in the chaos that followed the event and felt compelled to join a cult-like group called the Guilty Remnant where she could express her fears and share her grief with other members. But the group wasn’t as innocent as Kevin first thought. As a member, Laurie became a Watcher, took a vow of silence and could not speak again. Her role was to follow certain individuals around and stare at them to remind them that God was watching. Laurie cut off all contact with her family.

Kevin’s son, Tom, went off to college and never returned. He became involved with another cult called The Healing Hug. The leader of this cult claimed to have the ability to take the pain of the Sudden Departure away from leftovers and absorb it himself. Tom became a follower and initially lost contact with his family. As time passed, Tom realized that their charismatic leader, Holy Wayne, was corrupt and was sexually exploiting young female followers. Tom ultimately realizes that the cult is not for him. He becomes emotionally attached to one of Holy Wayne’s “wives,” a sixteen-year old Asian beauty who has Wayne’s child. Holy Wayne abandons Christine and his other young wives. A devastated Christine runs off and leaves Tom with her baby. Tom follows hoping for a future with her.

Jill is Kevin’s daughter. She is a leftover who misses her mother and brother and was traumatized when her girlfriend evaporated on October 14th while she was sitting right next to Jill. As a result, Jill’s view of life was thrown into utter chaos. She had been a conservative straight-A student but took up with Aimee who introduced her to drinking, drugs and sex play. Kevin is extremely concerned about the welfare of the only member of his family who is left. He sees she is going down a very dark path but he treads softly because she’s had so many devastating losses.

Kevin becomes involved with Nora who lost her husband and two young children on the Day of Departure. She doesn’t let him get close to her and doesn’t want to talk about the event. It is too painful. Nora tries every form of distraction that she can think to avoid dwelling on the tragic loss of her family. But nothing works; the pain is always looming. She wants to runaway and become someone else but she doesn’t know how to start.

Kevin has double worries. He is a father and husband worried about the welfare and future of his family. He is also the Mayor of Mapleton who must deal with three mysterious homicides that occur after the Sudden Departure.

In the end, Tom rediscovers himself with hopes of rescuing Christine. Jill distances herself from Aimee and begins to return to her former identity and its values and traditions. Laurie is astonished with a nefarious mission she is given by the GR but she is in too deep and sees no way out. Kevin is grateful to see Jill’s recovery and for the phone call he finally gets from Tom. Just when Nora is about to leave, she finds a purpose to stay and, ironically, she finds that reason on Kevin’s front porch.

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This section contains 713 words
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