A saga about power, consent, and the myth of the perfect victim
by Cassandra Parkin
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Pub Date 01 Oct 2021 | Archive Date 23 Nov 2021
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.
Callie’s life is spent caring for others – for Frey, her client, and for Noah, her brother. When a tragic car accident shatters her family, she’s left alone with her mother Vanessa. Vanessa's favourite child was Noah; Callie's favourite parent was her dad. Now they're stuck with each other - the leftovers of their family - and they'll have to confront the ways they've been hurt, and the ways they've passed that hurt on to others.
Praise for Cassandra:
'A thoughtful novel. Parkin creates authentic, interesting characters' Carys Bray
'Fresh and original, written vividly and with lair. I was completely engrossed!' Katherine Webb
'A dark, eloquently creepy tale. Parkin's prose quivers with visceral terror' Carol Lovekin
Average rating from 37 members
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)