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Monday, April 25, 2016

Review: The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
Published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: June 7th, 2016

- Review copy provided by Bloomsbury for honest feedback -

Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back--with no idea of where they've been.

Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on, or tried to.

Until today. Today five of those kids return. They're sixteen, and they are . . . fine. Scarlett comes home and finds a mom she barely recognizes, and doesn't really recognize the person she's supposed to be, either. But she thinks she remembers Lucas. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they're entirely unable to recall where they've been or what happened to them. Neither of them remember the sixth victim, Max. He doesn't come back. Everyone wants answers. Most of all Max's sister Avery, who needs to find her brother--dead or alive--and isn't buying this whole memory-loss story.

So much of this book was so good. We get three POV's in this story. Scarlett and Lucas were both victims of The Leaving and while they can't remember any of the things that have happened to them in the eleven years since they have been gone, they both have a strong sense that they have more of a past together than just being at the same place all that time. Of course, they have a hard time trusting themselves and each other, because with each snippet of something they think they remember from the time they were gone, things get more confusing and suspicious. I always enjoy a story with an unreliable narrator, but this one takes it just a little bit further, because not only are we not sure we can actually trust anything they are saying, these characters can't even trust their own thoughts and instincts.

Our third POV is Avery, the younger sister of one of the victims of The Leaving. Avery's brother, Max, didn't come back with the others and of course no one remembers him. Avery refuses to believe that Max isn't still out there somewhere and she also doesn't believe the other returned kids when they say they don't remember anything. You see, Lucas and Max were best friends before they were taken, and Avery doesn't understand how you can just forget a person. Desperate to figure out what happened to her brother, she inserts herself into the investigation.

No one really knows what's going on, but little by little they start unraveling the truth. And so many times I found myself unwilling to put this one down, even though I had to get back to work or go to sleep, because I was just as desperate as these kids to figure out what was really going on and to learn the truth about why this all happened. I had no proper predictions about who was involved or what really happened, so it was nice to find out at the same time the characters did. The truth about what went down was interesting enough and if it had been fleshed out a little more, I might have been more satisfied when I turned the last page, but by the time I got to the end I just felt like I needed more. There was such great build throughout the whole story and I guess the ending just felt a little to flat when all was said and done.

Overall I really did enjoy this one. Despite my need for more at the end, this was such an interesting mystery all along the way. There were definitely things that happened that I did not expect and connections between characters that I didn't necessarily see coming. It has solid writing and such a cool premise. It's definitely worth giving a look once this one hits the bookstores.

*book cover image came from

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