books and reading · reviews

Book Review: The Leaving by Tara Altebrando


Eleven years ago, six kids in kindergarten went missing without a single clue as to where they went. The town called it “The Leaving.” Today, five of those missing kids returned. They’re teens now, and they don’t remember a single thing about where they’ve been. But they seem okay. The only missing kid who doesn’t return is Max, and his little sister Avery is desperate for answers.

Tara Altebrando’s mystery about missing kids returning to a place they no longer fit into should have been a stay-up-late, absolutely riveting read. But despite the captivating premise and strong start to the story, the execution as a whole fell very flat. An overly-long narrative, an overly-complicated premise, and a stagnant middle make for an uneven reading experience.

One thing that does work well here is Altebrando’s multiple narrators. Told from the perspectives of Scarlett, Lucas, and Avery (the still-missing Max’s younger sister), each voice is distinct enough to keep them straight, and the different structures of each narrative helps separate them further.

The eventual reveal is fairly satisfying, but it takes so long to get there that it feels like a bit of a letdown. Some readers will still find this whole story captivating, but those looking for a super-fast-paced thriller should look elsewhere. The middle of this drags on, and a tighter editing hand could have done a great service.

Twisty and complicated.

The Leaving by Tara Altebrando. Bloomsbury: 2016. Library copy.



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