Cover Image: The Leftovers

The Leftovers

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Member Reviews

Nopity nope from me. Too dark and disturbing. But it was beautifully written and I can see why others liked it.
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This was a very serious novel, one I'm not sure I was fully prepared for. There are many dark elements at play here, and I am still trying to sort my thoughts. The idea behind the book is well thought out, I would advise others to read reviews for CW/TW before diving in. Reading about the death of a sibling and a parent made for a heavy topic, and something that would be hard for some people. 

I received an advance copy. All thoughts are my own.
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Eeep! This book was so dark and twisty it might not be for everyone but I enjoyed it! There was a lot of trauma and manipulation in book which might be upsetting but I didn't feel like it was gratuitous or unnecessary to the plot, It was a tightly plotted and written book.
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This book had so many twists and turns. It started out as a quite heavy story about a sister who just wanted to do everything to help take care of her brother. Then it evolved into a child struggling with the "leftovers" (or rather the absence) of her mother's love. Then evolved into a story about her father's sins. 

Then there was a possible love story which reminded me of the "Me Before You" series by Jojo Moyes (except this client was non-verbal). This story is an unexpected, slightly problematic gem.
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the leftovers by cassandra parkin, a review. 

thank you to netgalley for providing me with a copy in return for an honest review. 

the leftovers centres on a nurse named callie, who looks after her brother noah, as well as a client called frey. when noah and her father die, callie and her estranged mother are left to pick up the pieces whilst grappling with their hostility towards each other. 

i ended up DNFing this book at 70% because i just couldn’t care less what happened. even after getting most of the way through the novel, i didn’t have any feelings towards callie or any of the other characters. the story was told through multiple timelines, and whilst it was interesting to see the different relationships amongst the characters, i just feel like this book didn’t do it for me. i wanted a story about heartbreak and grief, and i just didn’t get that. needless to say, i was disappointed
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I really didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this book, but I was not disappointed!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me access an advance copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.
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This book intrigued me after seeing posts about it in a book group on Facebook. The premise fascinated me, a woman loses her brother and father in an accident and she is only left with her mother, who hates her and preferred the woman's brother. What happened between the mother and daughter to cause such hatred and animosity to each other?
The mother's behaviour to her daughter is extremely painful to read, and I couldn't wait to hear about what happened.
Then the Frey chapters started, and I did lose some interest in that storyline. I couldn't see it's relevance to the main story, and preferred the other one much more. Having said that, now I have finished, it's relevance is hugely important to the ending, and this book will stay with me for a long time.
Highly recommend.
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A beautifully written book with some fantastic characters. Page-turningly gripping, it contains a story of fierce love and an undertone of hostility and menace. Cannot recommend more highly.
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4.5 stars. Wow this was such a dark and twisted book the whole way through. It was wonderfully written but hard to read at some parts. Such an unexpected ending. I’ve never read anything by this author before but will definitely look out for more in the future.
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This is the fourth novel I've read by this author. I loved them all. This time around the author explores care-giving, and how those in need of care were affected by the pandemic. Also, she explores a dysfunctional family, and how the withholding of maternal love for one child impacted the entire family. How having a 'favorite' child, affects the family dynamic.

The story is told by Callie who says: "I have to be careful how I tell you this story. This is a story with a monster in it, but it's possible that monster isn't always my mother."

The author displays an acute understanding of those who are outcasts in society. She also has a keen knowledge of the sacrifice and patience it takes to be a full-time carer. In addition to family secrets, this book contains myriad very serious and sensitive themes. The novel is both compelling and dark. I was fully immersed in Callie's story, then at about the 80% mark, the narrative turned very sad and unsettling. I found I was quite uncomfortable reading towards the end. It speaks to the skillful and poetic writing that I felt this way.

The plot is 'open-ended' with the reader having to decide what Callie might have done next. This type of ending is not to everyone's taste, though it seemed perfect here.

The title was spot-on. Not only were Callie and her mother the 'leftovers' of her family, but it also spoke to how those with mental disabilities are the 'leftovers' of society.

Highly recommended to readers who enjoy realistic and brilliantly written literary fiction.
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The Leftovers is a story about sexual power and consent, the myth of the perfect victim, and a dark exploration of the things we do for – and to – the ones we love. Fascinating read ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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I finished the book but at times I found it deeply uncomfortable. By the end, I had experienced a range of emotions from sadness, anger, to disgust. There is a degree to which I feel there are unanswered questions but I did consider the writing to be clever, even though the storyline was at times difficult, hence persevering to the end. I would say as others have done that there this should have some trigger warnings attached as you wouldn't necessarily guess the content from the blurb.
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This was a dark read and I was not expecting that ending! The writing was beautiful and poetic. I would definitely recommend this book to those who like dark and upsetting stories.
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Thank you Netgalley and Author Cassandra Parkin for this ARC.

I finished the Leftovers in one sitting and still unsure how I found the overall story which I guess speaks of its powerfull messages. You're introduced and lead by Callie who is at first seen as a very reliable narrator but the more you find out, the more you start feeling like her which is questionning the truth. 

The story is a slow burner and you don't even pick up fully when the story changed and then it hits you with a dark twist.
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The Leftovers by Cassandra Parkin

Callie is a carer, professionally as a residential carer for Frey, and for her brother Noah.   Whilst caring for Frey she gets a call that Noah and her father have died in a traffic accident.  It is just Callie and her mother left and they hate each other.  The primary narrator is Callie and through the midst of grief we meander through Callie’s memories of her difficult relationship with her mother but Callie is an unreliable narrator and is burying deep family secrets.

The book is set in the present with covid and lockdowns.  For Frey the pandemic left him in an unfamiliar care home with visits from his family prohibited and it is an especially poignant part of the book when this is told from his perspective.  For Noah he sees his mental health condition worsening as mental health services are heavily curtailed and of course because of the psychological effect of lockdown itself.   Again through Callie's memories we learn more about Noah and Frey and her relationship with each.

I felt that Frey and Noah were well fleshed out characters and not just symbolic of their neuro diversity and mental ill health respectively (their conditions are never named). Some chapters are told from Frey’s perspective and it is heartbreaking how hard it is for his voice to be heard.  The book portrays his internal struggle between who he is and what those around Frey need from him including Callie.  I am not nor am I close to a neuro diverse person but with that caveat in mind I did find Frey was a fully rounded, intelligent and thoughtful main character.  In fact I loved Frey for his kindness and it is this trait as well as his neuro diversity that leaves him vulnerable.

The writing evokes the people and places so vividly in this book.  It makes the plotline even more disturbing and uncomfortable.  This book features sexual abuse and assault and examines consent and how we can become victims and perpertrators.  It gets dark very early on when the reader can sense the abuse before Callie can understand it.  The writing in this respect was very clever at giving the reader this background whilst making it believable that Callie wouldn’t yet be able to process or understand what had happened.  

The book then takes an even darker turn as another abusive relationship begins to develop.  I have to say I found this very uncomfortable and upsetting and I did wonder if it was really necessary.  I do understand why the author did it, rather than a straight forward bad perpetrator/poor victim storyline it went further in examining how a person can be both.  Although the pandemic isn’t at the centre of this novel I thought Parkin did a fantastic job of making it a part of the plot and illustrating the additional difficulties that those with care needs faced. The writing is clever and the characters felt so real it kept me turning the pages to find out how the story would develop.
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Nurse Callie is giving up her job to be better able to care for her brother. For years now, Noah has been suffering from mental illness and apart from their father, Callie is the only one he trusts and who is able to calm him when he gets in a state of emergency. To have more time, she leaves the hospital and becomes a carer for Frey, a young man who does not talk and needs strict daily routines to cope with life. Thus, Callie spends two weeks with her father and brother and the other two together with a colleague with Frey. When she returns one night from work, she receives an awful message: both her beloved ones have died in an accident and now she has to face her mother again. The woman who left them, who always hated Callie and the single person she does not want to see. It is a confrontation which is not only hurtful but which also lets lose monsters which have been kept locked up for many years.

Cassandra Parkin’s novel is a dark tale which play with the big question if the narrator is reliable or not and if what we remember is actually how things really happened or if our brain might play tricks on us. “The Leftovers” is great in making you high alert for the half-sentences, the things implied, all that is not said and questions all characters. Whom can you trust? Who is willingly misleading? Who is misled by their brains? From a point where all is clear, you enter an abyss where everything is possible.

Callie appears to be a selfless young woman who has destined her life to care for others. She is great with Frey as she has a long history of living with her brother and noticing nuances, slight changes which might be signs for dramatic events. She can well adapt to Frey’s needs and sync herself with his life which makes her perfect for the job. Yet, after some time, things slightly change and it takes some time for the reader to figure out why that is.

In the confrontation with her cool and repellent mother, childhood memories come up. Not only did her mother not show any affection towards her and clearly preferred her brother, she definitely neglected the girl. In Callie’s recollections, it all makes sense and fits together perfectly, yet, the more you get to know, the more you start to wonder if she, too, might see things that are not there just like her brother. Even though from what she tells, it all seems right and yet, doesn’t the understanding from the world of somebody suffering from paranoia normally form a consistent picture? 

A great read I can only recommend but you should be aware that some contents might feel like triggers for a highly sensitive reader.
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Thanks to Netgalley, Legend Press and Cassandra Parkin for this e-copy in return for my honest review. A dark read. I was genuinely holding my breathe with unease throughout. I love how the story slowly unfolded. It deserves to be a huge hit. For fans of Abigail Dean's Girl A.
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Whilst well written, easy to follow and leaving you wondering where it was going and the backstory to the dynamics of the relationships, and had an interesting take on the reliable narrator theme and if we can trust our own memories, this book left me feeling so uncomfortable.

I blame the synopsis which I don’t think does a good enough job of out laying what this book is actually about or what it will cover. Had I gone in to it knowing the many trigger and content  warnings that it should come with then I would have been prepared but it didn’t and instead I went in and was confronted with; suicide, sexual abuse, rape, consent, mental illness, the COVID-19 pandemic, child neglect, drugging of others and molestation. I may have forgotten some others. 

I think it’s only fair to give a more complete picture of what to expect in a novel, without giving the whole plot away, to allow readers to make an informed decision on whether or not a book is for them. Had I had all the information I’d have gone in to it prepared for those topics but I hate to think of what someone who may have first hand experience of any of those I’ve mentioned above would feel having come across these unprepared.
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Review - The Leftovers by Cassandra Parkin
Title: The Leftovers 

Author: Cassandra Parkin 

Rating: 3 3/4 stars 

Favorite Quote: “My heart is tender and heavy with grief and loss, and hating her is a welcome distraction. Without her, I’d never make it out of the shower, I would simply sit on the floor of the cubicle and weep and weep until my body turned to water and I could escape down the drain in a single continuous pouring away. But righteous anger strengthens my bones.” Cassandra Parkin. The Leftovers. E-book, ed., Legend Press, 2021. 

Review: Thank you to Legend Press and the NetGalley platform for the free e-ARC that I received in exchange for an honest review.

The Leftovers begins with the death of the protagonist’s, Callie’s, brother and father in a car accident that is later determined not to be an accident at all. Callie leaves her post as the caregiver for a man named Frey who doesn’t talk and seems to have an unnamed mental health issue, to be with her mother, whom Callie has long thought doesn’t love her, the the wake of these deaths.

As the novel progresses, what happened, both to Noah, Callie’s brother, and their father starts to come to light, as do a number of secrets that Callie and her family have kept buried for quite some time - including why Callie’s mom left, what Callie’s father did to her mom and possibly to Callie, and Callie’s own leanings towards sexual exploitation of someone who can’t consent.

Okay, so, this book got dark. See the end of the review for a (probably not exhaustive) list of potential triggers. I really struggled with how to rate this book, because I definitely was compelled to keep reading, but often out of a sense of dread and disgust (almost, perhaps ironically, like what happens when you drive by a car accident), than out of any sense of enjoyment of the book.

Part of my rating, then, comes from Parkin’s ability to create that sense of darkness, that sense of not right well before the novel’s secrets are revealed. I’d say about halfway through this novel, I started getting this uneasy feeling as I was reading - this sense of anticipation mixed with dread. The novel opens with a death, so it’s not fear of death or dying that leeches from the pages of this book - it’s something much more sinister. 

There is also something incredibly compelling about the way that Parkin creates a narrator that seems reliable at first but then becomes decidedly unreliable as the novel goes on. At one point, after a long analysis of Callie’s mother’s feelings, from Callie’s perspective, I actually made a note to myself asking if we would ever get the mom’s point of view, since that may have added some context to the narrative (although much of that context is still revealed at the end). 

I do have a few criticisms of this book, though most of those criticisms arise from my honesty not being sure of what’s appropriate or true, and what’s not. 

The first, and perhaps the biggest in terms of plot points, is that it didn’t seem particularly realistic to me that both Callie and her mom would have so little idea of what had occurred, based solely off of medication. I don’t know enough about pharmacology or the psychology of trauma to know whether this is actually unrealistic or not, but it was hard to suspend my disbelief at that part.

The other is that I’m not well-versed enough in the myriad of mental health concerns that arise in this book to know whether these issues are addressed respectfully and realistically or not. Nothing I read stood out as being particularly insensitive (when discussing Frey’s and Noah’s behaviors), but because this is a topic I don’t know much about, I wanted to include in my review a caveat that I am open to learning more and if it turns out these depictions were insensitive or disrespectful, I would certainly be opening to adjusting my review and rating as a result. 

About that Quote: So, this quote jumped out at me for a number of reasons. The first should be obvious - Parkin’s grasp on the English language is wow. The imagery of this quote, and the imagery creates throughout the novel, is absolutely incredible, and this quote clearly shows off those skills. 

The quote too, though, also shows how Parkin is able to develop the narrative as stealthily as she does. That sense of anticipation and dread that I mentioned earlier is present throughout the novel, if you look back after finishing it. But on first read, before the dread really sinks its claws in, what the novel is building towards is hidden by layers of what seems like grief and only grief. Here is someone so captured by grief, that those other red flags that pop up are little more than symptoms of that devastation. It isn’t until later, when those red flags really start to pile up, that the story’s underpinnings truly begin to make an appearance. 

TRIGGERS: SA (including r*pe), child neglect, s*icide

The Leftovers is out now! Have you read it? Share your thoughts below!

(This review is copy and pasted from my blog. Link is shared below)
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I’m a huge fan of the author and absolutely had to read this. I thought it was terrific. I like the way the chapters bounced between other characters, even Noah who is dead when the book starts so not everything is focused through Callie and her mother. Callie is a fantastic character, full of love despite the stress of caring for her brother and her job as a carer looking after someone who is unsettlingly like Noah. I loved the way the author explored the fragmented relationship between Callie and her mother, especially the dark revelations at the end which shatter everything Callie thought she knew about her life and family.
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