Leave This Book Behind

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam (Hardcover, 256 pages)

Source: Bloomsbury Publishing

Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam (Hardcover, 256 pages)

Owen Etter, Staff Writer

     Leave The World Behind is more about predicting what’s going to happen the whole time than it is race.

     Leave The World Behind by Rumaan Alam was published in October of 2020 by Bloomsbury Publishing. Leave The World Behind is currently being sold for around fifteen dollars. This novel came out during a global pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement. The significance of this book coming out during this time is very big because the book does touch a little bit on race but a lot of the book is about how people react to the unknown which is what the whole world is experiencing at the moment. Despite this book talking a lot about what people do during the unknown and the connection it has to the current global pandemic, I would not recommend this book to others.

     Leave The World Behind is a 2020 novel by Rumaan  Alam. This book starts off with Clay and Amanda driving with their two children, Archie and Rose, to a vacation home they rented for a week. The first few days of this family’s vacation seems just like a normal one with the occasional arguments that every family has. On the second day of vacation Amanda and Clay are thinking about going to bed when they hear a knock on the door described in this quote, “A knock at the door of this house, where no one knew they were, not even the global positioning system…” (pg 38). Amanda and Clay open the door to find an African American couple standing on the porch. The couple, Ruth and G.H., claim that this house is theirs and that there has been a major power outage back in the city, where their family home is, and ask Clay and Amanda if they wouldn’t mind letting them stay there. Clay and Amanda are faced with the challenges of believing what these strangers are saying is true and not only putting their children’s safety in jeopardy but putting aside their racial biases to let the couple stay there. Throughout this book both of these couples are faced with many challenges that change and reshape their closest relationships during the many moments of crises this novel presents.

     Throughout this book there is a lot that is unclear or hard to understand. A big part of this book that wasn’t believable was the whole story itself. At first this book seems like it is going to be a lot about race and how society needs to overcome racism and focus on what is really important in the world. Instead, this book quickly moves past the racial biases that a White middle class family might have and takes on world events that would seem very unlikely in today’s world. This book tries to show how hard the unknown must be for parents with two children staying in a house with strangers might be, but the reason behind why these strangers are forced to stay together is not believable at all. Another part of this book that is hard to understand is who these characters are supposed to be. At first the reader gets a clear understanding of what kind of family this is that is staying in this vacation home, but as the story progresses the personalities of all the main characters change very quickly and instead become completely different people than the reader was initially believed they were supposed to be. This book does not do a very good job of making these characters well developed since the book constantly changes making it hard for the reader to know what all of these characters are really like.

     On the other hand, this book does a really good job of incorporating some major events that happened in the world. A major event that is brought up a lot throughout this book is September 11 and what these characters experienced on that day. Some other events that this book talks about is global warming, racial injustice, and gender inequality. Although these biases or topics never truly come up in conversation between the characters the author does a good job of letting the reader know that these events are happening in our world today whether people want to admit it or not and that society needs to do something about it.  The theme of this book was not one that was easily identified. The theme of this book was that people’s relationships change or are reshaped in moments of crises. The theme of this book doesn’t seem as clear at first because of how these characters react to crises, but as the book goes on the reader sees how these characters stop caring about themselves and start caring about others around them even if they are strangers but they’re all going through the same situation.

      There isn’t a lot about this book that is really that good. From the back of this book one might think that a good portion of it is going to be on race when in reality it has very minimal to do with race. I read this book because I wanted to know more about what someone would do when people of the opposite race showed up on your doorstep and how your racial biases would come into play. I was very disappointed with this book when only the first few chapters were about letting these strangers in. A lot of the book after those first few chapters I felt like were a waste of time and filled with information that was irrelevant. Although this book wasn’t about the topic of race as much as I had hoped there were some parts that were worth reading. A big part of this book that I enjoyed was how everyone deals with the unknown or crises differently. It was definitely interesting to see how men responded differently than women. I learned that women don’t want to be left alone when there are serious situations going on and tend to be more prepared for when things go bad. On the other hand, men want to deal with serious situations when they happen and don’t feel the need to prepare as they push things aside like they are no big deal.  I really enjoyed the gender roles that came into play there, but for this book to not have a good portion about race or other social issues then I would not recommend it. A lot of this book was unclear and didn’t make sense and for it to not really be about what it said it was going to be about, it felt like a waste of time reading it and I didn’t enjoy what it was actually about so I would not recommend it.

-Written by Skylar Moulton