Thursday, June 23, 2016

Review: The Leaving by Tara Alterbrando

The Leaving
Title: The Leaving
Author:  Tara Alterbrando
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's 
Publishing Date: June 7th 2014
Pages: 432
Genre: YA Mystery Thriller
Series:  Stand Alone
Source: ARC 

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. 

This book didn't really catch my eye first thing. I wasn't sure what it was about and the title and cover didn't grab me. I decided to give it a go after I read the summary and remembered that I probably put it on my TBR for a reason. So  I read it. Well devoured it. One of my favorite reads this year. Mystery, thrills, mass confusion. I so liked it, well loved it. 
Six kids disappeared when they were 5 years old. It is  now 11 years later and 5 of the six show up on a playground, clueless to why the are there or what happened. The have bits and pieces of who they are and such but not really. They have not clue what has happened to them for the last 11 years. This book is about the 5 that came back, the missing 6th. This is the story of what happened to them, how are they supposed to remember and who are they supposed to be if they don't remember any of the last 11 years. 

This book really wowed me. It sounded good but I didn't really know what to expect. I thought okay mystery, realistic fiction, maybe a bit of suspense or conspiracy theory. It was all the above. It filled so many of my soul pockets. I really love a great mystery and this was most of the book. It was also very unreliable narratorish. The kids do not remember anything so how do we trust them. Are their memories real, planted, lies... the reader just has no clue. I love books like this.

The story and the mystery were the best part. The characters were okay. But I felt it really wasn't a story about the characters on who they were or are... but rather them letting go. So did I connect to the characters. Not not really. Most of the time this bothers me but really in this book it didn't. I did connect enough to feel for them and understand them.... it was just hard to really know them. They didn't really know themselves. This was okay for me. It made sense to me and really put me more into the story. 

The story was told from 3 multiple POV's, 2 of the returned missing and a sibling from the missing that had not returned. I actually liked her POV the most. Avery. the sister, remembered everything and she felt it all. She had the 11 years of torture not knowing where her brother was. She also had to deal with her brother being the one that didn't come back. Out of all the characters... I liked her point of view the best and probably connected with her the most.

The ending was not so closes ended as one would like. The mystery was solved but not completely. Enough to get the gist of it and to let the kids let go... but there is more to the story. I would like to know more and really there could be another book if one wanted there to be. I am not sure that will ever happen but I think there is a lot more to the story. 

This book was amazing to me. Despite there being a non-concrete ending and hard to connect characters I loved every word I read. There was something about the mystery that just kept me going. The lost and the grief and the healing of each of the returned kept me reading. It was mind boggling and I just love these type of reads. 

I loved it... really I just loved it.

Tara Altebrando is the author of numerous books for young adult and middle-grade readers. Her upcoming book, THE LEAVING (Bloomsbury), is a YA thriller that received a starred PW review and is a Junior Library Guild selection. Her other YA novels include ROOMIES, coauthored with Sara Zarr; Dreamland Social Club (A Kirkus Reviews Best Books for Teens), The Best Night of (Your) Pathetic Life, What Happens Here, and The Pursuit of Happiness.

Tara is a Harvard graduate who lives in Queens, NY, with her husband and children.


  1. I already spoiled the ending of this one for myself (I read it in someone's review who wasn't a big fan of the book - they had a spoiler tag and everything, so ...). Sounds intriguing, but for some reason it didn't seem like the type of book I'd love. Non-concrete endings sometimes leave a bad taste in my mouth - but it sounds like this one was a really fun ride, at any rate!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  2. I really like the idea of one of the POVs being from the sister's perspective. That seems like it would add a whole new dimension to the story. Wonderful review!

    - Lefty @ The Left-Handed Book Lover

  3. I liked this book a lot for the fact that I HAD to know what the heck happened to those kids!! I kind of wanted to connect to the characters though. That was a little bit of a downer for me. I had mixed feelings on the ending. I kind of like not knowing everything sometimes... but on this one I did think we needed a little bit MORE. Great review... glad you liked this one!!

  4. This sounds so interesting! I'd read the synopsis before but wasn't sure that it was going to be gripping enough for me. I'm definitely going to check it out now!

  5. I like the sound of this book but the mystery not completely resolved? I don't know. I've read others loving this as well though but the ending ruined it for them. It's nice to know it worked well for you though. Great review!

    czai @ the Blacksheep Project


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