The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

The LeavingSynopsis: 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.

Sometimes, you plan to pick up a book only to get an eensy teensy taste before you actually pick it up at a later date. Sometimes, you just need something to read while you’re walking home and you can’t see your Kindle screen because the sun is too bright so you flip open your brand new purchase. And sometimes, the book you’re “tasting” is so engrossing that you put your current read on hold in order to finish it as quickly as possible.

The Leaving is definitely that kind of book. I barely let this book out of my sight once I started it, and I put it down grudgingly only to perform crucial “real life” duties. I honestly don’t even know how to review this book.

The format is W E I R D. Like weirder than putting strange s p a c e s between the letters in words. On the one hand, I appreciate what Tara Altebrando was trying to do with the strange formats and styles between the different POVs. On the other, I found some of those stylistic choices to be very jarring (particularly when it came to Scarlett’s POV) and I kept being jolted out of the story because her chapters had all of this STUFF going on. It did convey how lost she (and the other returned kids) were, but I don’t know… I think there might have been better ways to convey that. Of course, I understand the point may have been to make those chapters jarring and difficult to read. It was probably a metaphor. Either way, I wasn’t a huge fan.

The premise is thrilling x1000000. I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure things out in line with the returned kids. I was dying to understand what had happened and to fill in the gaps in their knowledge so that the story would feel more complete. I love a book that can really keep me guessing and hold my attention straight through, and The Leaving certainly did that well. Plus, the chapters are fairly short and seem to fly by, which lends a lot to the rushed atmosphere of the chase – we’re on a mission together! We want answers and we want them now! … and so on and so forth. I enjoyed the hunt.

Lucas was probably my favorite POV and Avery was probably my least favorite. So… yeah… that love story… I’m just gonna say it: A W K W A R D. I even said it in a strangely-formatted way, which fits this book’s MO perfectly. I was not a fan of the central love story, not even a little bit. I just couldn’t get over how forced it felt.

Speaking of forced… a few of the twists come out of nowhere, but a few of them are so easy to see coming. It’s a mixed bag. You have been warned.

While I enjoyed the creativity behind the ANSWERS I was craving the whole entire book, I still felt a little let down by the ending. There were some biiiiiiig stretches there, and that was disappointing. Still, I loved the literary cult classic element, and I thought it was at the very least, an engrossing ending. It did leave me thinking. I just didn’t like how many questions I felt were still unanswered by the final pages. Maybe it just ties up too neatly??? Maybe I’m expecting/asking too much??? I don’t know. But don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed this book, I just had very very mixed feelings about the ending.

I hated the way the families were portrayed. With the exception of (maybe) Lucas’ brother, Ryan, all of the main POV returned kids come back to these really screwed up family situations. It’s characterized to the extreme.

All in all, this is a fast-paced read that kept me second guessing everything in overdrive, which I loved. It definitely had some weak points, and the ending was a little off (so so many questions left), but I think this is a great choice for anyone looking for a thrilling mystery that also deals with family relationships and coping with loss. It’s a brave story with an engrossing premise, and I promise – you will not be able to put it down once you get going.

Rating: 4.2/5 stars 

TALK TO ME: Do you like mysteries? Are you planning to read The Leaving



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