In The Leftovers, Perrotta puts human relationships under a microscope, sometimes to chilling effect. The town of Mapleton has never stopped reeling after the Sudden Departure, when large numbers of random people simply vanished into thin air. When the smoke clears, those left behind not only grieve for their friends and family who are suddenly gone, but also wonder why they were spared (or not spared). Cults are formed, hate groups emerge, and others just try to pick up where they left off. The story focuses on Mayor Kevin Garvey. While he didn’t lose anyone directly to the Sudden Departure, it marked the dissolution of his family. His wife joins the Guilty Remnant, his son drops out of school to work for Holy Wayne, and his daughter isn’t the sweet, straight-A student she once was. Perotta examines the inner lives of his characters with compassion and insight. The Sudden Departure simply serves to magnify and twist what was probably already there.