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The Leaving

Review

The Leaving

Tara Altebrando's THE LEAVING takes places on the day of a school shooting in which six kindergarteners disappear. The town is dedicated to solving the mystery, but nothing progresses except the popularity of the event. Eleven years later, five of those six kindergarteners are dropped off near their homes with maps to help them find their way. The only problem? None of them remember the last 11 years. In a town that's extremely shocked by their sudden arrival and even more eager for answers, no one's really buying that they can't remember and feel like there is something going on between them that they won't tell. The five teens all choose their different methods of coping, whether it's using hypnosis to try and remember or deciding that it's okay to forget. Tension builds as the sixth child, Max, is nowhere to be found and one of the returned teens, Lucas, is suspected of murder. The police aren't much help, so some of the teens decide to take matters into their own hands.

"THE LEAVING is an eerie, suspenseful novel with a unique story...so intriguing, you can't put it down."
   

Through tests, they discover that the returned victims are all up to date on their education, and each one discovers a different skill that they possess. And although they can't remember "the important stuff" --- such as who held them captive or where they were --- they all have one specific happy memory, such as riding on a carousel or playing with a puppy. These revelations lead to a series of questions on memory: What qualifies as important? How much of our childhoods do we actually remember? Through a struggle of memory and identity, the victims are able to discover more and more from their past that helps them earn back their memory.

THE LEAVING is an eerie, suspenseful novel with a unique story including concepts that range from romance to murder. Each chapter switches its focus to a different character, leaving you eager to know what happens next. The novel maintains a slow and steady pace that builds the tension until the shocking conclusion is revealed. Even when you think you have things figured out, something else will come up and you'll be left guessing again. The inside look provided on each of the most important characters helps provide contexts for the conflicts and barriers that arise between them. THE LEAVING is a unique mystery with a story so intriguing, you can't put it down.

Reviewed by Maggie L., Teen Board Member on June 7, 2016

The Leaving
by Tara Altebrando