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the leavingWhat: The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

Who: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

When: May 25th 2016

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Bloomsbury Australia for review.

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.

3cats2The Leaving was pretty darn addictive. I read the majority of this book in one sitting because I just wanted to know EVERYTHING. Which I think is a pretty good sign when it comes to a mystery novel. What are they without that ‘I need to know’ feeling?

The Leaving is told from three different perspectives, all in third person. We have Avery, who is the little sister of one of the six kids who went missing eleven years ago, and we have Scarlett and Lucas, who are two of the six kids who went missing.

At first I didn’t really understand why Avery’s chapters were included, until I realised that they were super important. Max, her brother, doesn’t come home with the rest of the children, so her experience is so different from everyone else’s. It also brings in the view point of the people left behind by such a tragedy, and how they are affected by all the news and theories and whatnot. There was a scene at the end of The Leaving between Avery and her parents that was really quite heartbreaking, and related to her being the child that didn’t go missing.

Scarlett and Lucas’s chapters were written in very … odd ways. All throughout Scarlett’s chapters there would be slash-marks (these bad boys: /) for when she was not remembering or understanding something, but it was so random. They didn’t follow any kind of pattern that I could see, and it just felt quite a bit pretentious, if I’m being honest. There were also words in loops and circles, too. Lucas’s chapters had random words in white surrounded by a black rectangle. I didn’t get this at all. I suppose it was supposed to represent the random things he could remember that didn’t have any context, but after a while they were annoying because they were mostly the same words over and over again.

I didn’t feel much of an emotional connection to any of the three characters, although I did feel a lot for their circumstances. I suppose it’s hard to connect to a character that can’t even connect to themselves, but I kind of just wanted a little more exploration of who they were beyond the loss of their memory (for Scarlett and Lucas), and the mystery of Max (for Avery).

I have to say that I totally did not see the ending coming. There were no clues given as to what might have happened, except that each of the teens had one or two random memories. I suppose this was to keep that ‘I have to know’ feeling going, which it certainly did. And the ending was super creepy, too.

There was a bit of a love triangle between our three main characters, which at times I thought was kind of stupid. I mean, Scarlett and Lucas have little to no memory of the last eleven years of their lives, and Avery’s brother is still missing, and they’re thinking about romance? I guess I understand why Scarlett and Lucas would be looking for a connection, since that is all they can remember from the past, but Avery’s sudden and intense attraction and yearning for Lucas seemed a bit out of the blue, considering the circumstances.

All in all, I did enjoy The Leaving. It was an incredibly addictive mystery novel that kept me guessing right until the very end. Which is exactly what you want from a book like this.

© 2016, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning: child abduction, death via asthma attack, alcoholic parent, absent parent, death via head trauma, romantic cheating, murder, depressed parent, ableism and missing friends and siblings in this novel

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Posted on: June 7, 2016 • By: Chiara

16 Responses to Review: The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

  1. You know, this reminds me a bit of the gorgeous book 17 AND GONE by Nova Ren Suma – have you read that one? I’ve recently been getting really into mystery/missing person stories, and 17 AND GONE is the best I’ve read in a long time, hands down. (And I will bet quite a bit of money that you won’t see the ending coming. ;))

    I must admit it seems a bit… odd that there’s a love triangle in this book, especially since it seems to only detract from the main storyline. I’m binging on mysteries, though, so I think I might have to pick this one up anyway. I do so love me a good unputdownable story!

    • Chiara says:

      I haven’t! It is now on my TBR, though, because I will ALWAYS need more mysteries in my life, especially ones where I can’t guess the ending :D

      Yeah, the love triangle was a bit unnecessary, but I still enjoyed the book overall. If you’re on a mystery binge I’d recommend it for sure.

  2. I saw love triangle when I was reading this review and it hurt. It looked like such a good book and I was really interested in reading it but I don’t know now. Thanks for sharing though!!

  3. Emily Mead says:

    Addictive = good.

    Random, pretentious-sounding inserts = not-so-good.

    BUT I’M KEEPING AN OPEN MIND. I’m a big fan of creepy books and I just read The Special Ones last week, which was amaaaaaazing, so we’ll see how it goes :)

    • Chiara says:

      Yeah, there were definitely good and bad things in this book, but I did like it overall!

      Oh, I haven’t heard of The Special Ones – I’ll have to look into it :D

  4. Romi says:

    You’re continuing your mystery binge-ish-thing! And yay for *mostly* enjoying this one- enjoying elements of it, I should say, because it does sound like there were some not so great parts. I heard of this one a little while ago (which *might* be my way of saying last week, lets just say that) which is always a surprise because -I do not know about books these days- and it’s definitely got that captivating element to the synopsis, that need to know what on earth happened, how you can lose 11 years and where that one person is, although I’m always so hesitant to get into murder/mystery novels because of the terror aspect? And in some cases (like Dangerous Girls, which you succeeded in having me return to my tbr) that’s not a good thing, but here I think it was for the best, because I don’t think I would have enjoyed the way the plot went.

    The romance sounds a little bizarre- almost the same as the fact it got to the stage with dystopia novels that there was always a romance/love triangle and it’s the end of the world, so maybe that’s not a priority actually. I probably don’t understand how Avery comes into it, since I’d imagine she would be so cut up and focusing on figuring out what happened to her brother- although maybe she would also feel like getting into a relationship with this person who experienced the same things her brother did (even if they’re unremembered) could give her closure or tell her things? It’s an interesting kind of theme to play on, but I don’t get the feeling I’d like how it panned out or felt, overall.

    I am actually a fan of the “unique” formatting for sentence structure and dialogue, and it’s done really beautifully (but, simultaneously, oddly) in Magonia, which is full of utterly beautiful and unexpected and just perfect word and character choices (empty brackets and spaces and all of it is lovely), but again- I don’t feel like it added to the story here in the way it should have, if it was going to be used. That sort of thing can be so amazing, like it was for me in Magonia, but it can also be tricky.

    I wish this one had been better, overall, although I’m glad you remained invested throughout and FOUND OUT WHAT HAPPENED I WANT TO KNOW TOO CHIARA. Lovely review, sweetie. xx

  5. Romi says:

    *laughs forever at the length of my comment WOWEEE*

  6. This is a book I’ve been curious about for a long time Chiara, and I think I’ll pick it up at one point. Even if there were some things that didn’t work for you as well as they could have, it seems to me that the overall mystery would rally appeal to me.
    I might get a bit upset with the slashes and the black triangles with white words in them, but now, I’m forewarned :)
    Great review!

    • Chiara says:

      If you love mystery then I think you would definitely like this book, Lexxie!

      I’m glad to have warned you about the formatting, especially if it’s not something you really like.

      Thank you :D

  7. Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed this book! It looked really interesting when it showed up so I’m glad to hear it’s a decent read. I’ll have to pick it up!

  8. Sounds like a good one overall. I’m glad the mystery wasn’t one you could guess, but it’s a bummer you didn’t really connect with any of the characters. I suppose it DOES make sense, but sometimes you really do want to understand the characters more.


    • Chiara says:

      It was a good book overall. I did like the mystery aspects a lot, but connection to characters is something I need to really fall in love with a book!

  9. Valerie says:

    This is quite interesting. I’m not a huge fan of mystery novels, and I’ve only read one I think this year. But I’m also surprised that there is a love triangle, when there are more important things to be focusing on? Like loss of memories, missing brother, but ok (I guess I’m so used to there being romance in YA when it’s not the time and place haha).

    Glad you still enjoyed this though Chiara! I am quite curious about the ending, so maybe I will pick this up one day!

    • Chiara says:

      I LOVE mystery novels, they’re just so different! If you are looking for great ones I’ll point you in the right direction :D

      Yeah, I will never quite understand why there needs to be romance at every turn when it comes to YA. It just seems so ridiculous sometimes.

      Let me know if you ever do read it, Valerie!

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