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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

REVIEW: The Leaving, by Tara Altebrando

Eleven years ago, six kindergartners 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--the only one who hasn't come back. Which leaves Max's sister, Avery, wanting answers. She wants to find her brother--dead or alive--and isn't buying this whole memory-loss story. But as details of the disappearance begin to unfold, no one is prepared for the truth.

Could be one of those "ripped from the headlines" kind of stories. Where did 6 five-year-olds disappear to, literally from under the noses of parents and school officials--ON A SCHOOL BUS even. (Frankly, if this ever really did happen and I learned of it, I'd quit working and never let my child near a school bus. Ever.) 
I enjoyed the whole book, really had to tear myself away from it and deal with reality. The characters are really interesting and I feel like Altebrando did a great job with an interesting development challenge. I mean, seriously, how do you develop characters who have zero memories of the last 11 years, and only marginally more of their 5 years before that? In my mind, that's more than creating a character, that's creating a character who doesn't even know himself.
The story itself is wonderful. The switch in perspectives (2 of the returned and 1 family member of another of the kids) is really interesting. The clues they have and the questions that come up for each of them. I would've like to see more of the other returned teenagers, because I don't feel like some of the ultimate resolution was as "neat" as it appeared to be.
The only real "ehs" I have about this book is the timeline and resolution. Unless I missed some queues, time from "return" to "all questions answered" was 2 weeks-ish. Yeah, not realistic. I know there's a difficulty in dragging things out in YA, and the chance of losing readers because of it, but...too fast. This isn't CSI.
As for the resolution, timeline aside, it was too quick. There were some interesting twists (one I'd never seen coming, one that is hinted at a couple of times if you're observant), but it felt like a punch list was created for the ending and it had to be run through. That being said, not ALL questions are answered, but that just adds to the really good premise and character line--the kids STILL don't know what really happened in those 11 years, and have scant half-memories.
Would I add it to my library? Yes. And I'd use it for book club because I think it could stem some great discussion and encourage my writers.

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Bloomsbury USA Children's through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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