Leftovers chronicles the transformation of two best friends from kids to people who have done something. Something unforgivable, but, they believe, not for unforgivable reasons. We don’t know what when the book starts. All we know is that they are taking turns confessing on tape. They start with the backstory. They start with how they got to where they are, how they became people who could do what they did.
Blair’s mother is all about image. She doesn’t care about Blair, and when they do see each other, it’s mostly in the company of other people who need to believe that their family is close. Blair’s father is having an affair. They are not the family they once were.
Ardith’s family is what it’s always been. Ardith’s house is the party house, full of drinking and sex and all sorts of things that wouldn’t go on in a place with normal parents. Ardith keeps padlocks on her door to keep out what goes on in the rest of her house.
Blair and Ardith are best friends. They turn to each other when everyone else in their world fails them. The unfortunate circumstances and cruel people in their lives try to rip them apart, but their bond can’t be broken that easily; just changed, as they change, as does everything around them.
Leftovers is a very intense story. Horrible things happen to Blair and Ardith, and in the end, it’s simultaneously unsurprising and horrifying. Blair and Ardith are very real characters, and their story is disturbingly believable. Blair and Ardith are interesting to the reader, because, to me at least, they still managed to be sympathetic characters. They did something unforgivable, but they were also the victims in this story, in another way. As I read, I could not turn the pages fast enough (and thus have no idea what’s been going on in Chemistry for the past two days). It’s well-written, suspenseful, and kind of like watching two cars go toward each other, toward a head-on collision; you know something horrible is going to happen, but you can’t look away. The format of this novel is interesting, as Blair and Ardith alternate talking, sometimes talking in the present tense to the person they’re confessing to, and sometimes telling the story of what happened. Sometimes it’s in second person, too, which is an interesting effect with disastrous potential, but Laura Wiess pulls it off nicely. This is a powerful book that certainly lives up to the high standards set by Laura Wiess’s first novel, Such A Pretty Girl.