Leave the World Behind

Ecco: HarperCollins. Oct. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9780062667632. $27.99. FICTION
This latest from Alam (That Kind of Mother) is so clever and so subtle that it draws readers into a false sense of security and understanding, much like that experienced by Amanda and Clay, who have brought their children to a lovely rental home on Long Island. Initially, the book seems to be about a modern marriage and family, priorities and choices, and how one measures success in the 21st century, and it is. But it is also much more. Their vacation bubble is abruptly burst when Ruth and G.H., the homeowners, unexpectedly come knocking late one night, bringing news of a major blackout in New York City. Electricity is on at the rental home, and all seems well, but there is no phone signal or internet access. Amanda and Clay don’t know what to believe, and Alam’s writing palpably captures their uneasiness, vulnerability, and fear for their children, with the narrative at turns riveting and disconcerting but in the best way. Readers are given clues to events in the outside world even as the characters remain unaware, but much is left unexplained, leaving the disquiet to linger long after the finish.
VERDICT Highly recommended and perfectly timed for today’s uncertain world. [See Prepub Alert, 4/1/2020.]
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