Firstly, huge thank you to Bloomsbury UK for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
Leave the World Behind revolves around a family who is on a much needed holiday, even if Amanda can’t stop herself from answering emails on her phone. However, the idyllic holiday atmosphere on Long Island quickly evolves into something more suffocating when one night the owners of the house they’re renting return with the news that something big is happening outside the small rural community. With no TV or phone service, the family have no choice but to trust this strange couple, but do they?
Whilst I didn’t fall in love with any of the characters, in fact I didn’t know whether to trust any of them, they all felt incredibly real and genuine which is what made them so captivating to me. This felt like a very honest and raw depiction of a typical American family and it’s because of this that the novel, for me, was really impactful and heightened the tension in the novel. This wasn’t a unique or special family that was potentially in danger, it was an ordinary family, illustrating how vulnerable anyone can be when they are away and staying in someone else’s property. When it came to the Washington’s, I did find myself more drawn to liking them than the other family, however, whenever I felt as though I was beginning to trust them something would happen, something subtle, and I would find myself pulling back.
Alam expertly captures the tense, almost suffocating, atmosphere of the novel. From the very beginning of the novel you just have a feeling that something isn’t quite right but you can’t place why. You’re not necessarily given any information to suggest that something will happen but just from the tone, you know this won’t be a normal family holiday. Even just through listing the things that Amanda buys when she goes food shopping for the week, somehow this made me feel uneasy – perhaps because of how familiar it felt to my own family holidays where this is one of the first things we do too (as I imagine most families would). The varying chapter length and the alternating character focus with the chapters kept me hooked.
There’s so much that I want to say about this novel, but I don’t want to ruin this experience for other readers! As well as urging you to pick this book up, I also highly recommend that you set some time aside to read this book in one sitting! If you don’t, you’ll find that you can’t stop thinking about it until you pick it up again! Although, it’s now been a few days since I finished it and it’s still on my mind…