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The Leaving Paperback – June 6, 2017
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From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—One day, six kindergarteners disappear without a trace. Eleven years later, five of the kids, now teenagers, return, but the mysteries have only multiplied. Though Lucas, Scarlett, Kristen, Adam, and Sarah operate on a developmentally appropriate level (speaking, reading, and writing like typical adolescents), they have no memory of anything from the last 11 years—and no explanation of why Max, who also left, isn't with them. Were they kidnapped? Abducted by aliens? Were they victims of some psychological experiment? Readers follow Lucas and Scarlett, who suspect that they might have had a romantic relationship in the past, and Avery, Max's younger sister, who clings to the hope that her brother will return and who finds herself drawn to Lucas, as the teens try to piece together just what happened and why. Depicting characters with few memories, Altebrando has effectively established an often eerie and unsettling mood, and the creative use of typography adds to the feeling of disorientation. The prose has a sense of urgency, and brief chapters will keep teens turning the pages. However, this is no mere thriller; folded into this compulsively readable work are thought-provoking themes. What is the link between identity and memory? Are we better off without painful remembrances? As the book concludes, characters—and readers—will still be contemplating these challenging questions. VERDICT Teens who enjoy engrossing, contemplative titles such as Adam Silvera's More Happy Than Not will devour this insightful musing on memory and identity.—Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
"You will not sleep, check your phone or even breathe once you begin reading The Leaving. Altebrando hides a meditation on memory and identity inside a top-speed page-turner. I promise, you will not even look up from the page." - E. Lockhart, author of WE WERE LIARS
"The Leaving isn't one of those books that creeps up on you: instead, it throws you in the back of an unmarked van and speeds off before you even have time to wonder what's going on. This book gripped me on the first page, and by the last, had really moved me. It's a twisty, oh no she didn't thriller that keeps the surprises firing, but also a thoughtful meditation on memory, identity, and what really makes us who we are." - Bennett Madison, author of SEPTEMBER GIRLS
"As heart-stopping as it is heart-breaking, The Leaving layers a wildly strange suspense story over a lovely and unexpected narrative of grief, loss, and the struggle to imagine a future in the shadow of the past." - Robin Wasserman, author of GIRLS ON FIRE
"Bold, inventive, and engaging, The Leaving leaps straight off the page." - Beth Kephart, author of SMALL DAMAGES and THIS IS THE STORY OF YOU
"This is no mere thriller; folded into this compulsively readable work are thought-provoking themes. . . . Teens who enjoy engrossing, contemplative titles such as Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not will devour this insightful musing on memory and identity." - starred review, School Library Journal
"A twisting, harrowing story . . . Engrossing, both as a thriller and a meditation on memory―its limits, its loss, and the ways it deceives and constructs identity." - starred review, Publishers Weekly
"A twisting and turning mystery that will grip readers." - Kirkus Reviews
"Told in a complicated layering, Altebrando constructs an amazing story about the lives of those taken and of those who tried to carry on back home." - VOYA
"With a bit of romance, a bit of pathos, a bit of science fiction, and a bit of ripped-from-the-headlines trauma, this will appeal to fans of mystery." - BCCB
"Highly satisfying . . . A believable and clever story that will keep readers engaged from beginning to end." - Booklist
Top customer reviews
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The story is about 6 children who go missing on their first day of kindergarten and aren't found until 11 years later when they come back home with no memories of what happened over these years. It is told in alternating points of view which allows readers a glimpse into the minds of 2 of the kids who were kidnapped and one who is the sister of a kidnapped boy. Intertwined in the story is a second mystery as well. Because even though 6 children were taken only 5 of them came back. So what happened to the sixth child? Why were they taken in the first place? And who is behind everything?
As far as the plot goes, I think the whole concept is very original. However, I did find the ending to be a little underwhelming as I felt like I was hanging onto the edge of my seat up until the point. That's not to say the ending was bad because it's not. But I was hoping for a bit more in terms of emotions from the characters and a little more information about the lives of these kids in the aftermath of figuring out what happened. Perhaps a nice little epilogue would have helped?
Other than this, the novel is pretty fantastic. I'll admit, there were times when I thought this book was going sci-fi on me, and then I thought it was turning into a murder mystery and so on. This is all due to how the author tells the story and weaves it through readers minds. For me, this makes it so much more interesting and I couldn't be more pleased with it.
So, if your looking for a unique mystery I would certainly recommend this book. It's told in a way that will leave readers anxious to know more while also adding an enjoyment factor as well. I will be looking for more of the authors work in the near future based on this novel.
Then the ending was anti-climactic. When the mystery was solved, there was no Wow moment. It just sort of laid there.
There was also so much left out. A major plot twist involving a school shooting years ago is never even mentioned until halfway through the book, and then only in passing, as if it's unimportant.
The final explanation of the group's amnesia didn't feel real, either. In the end, the book just fell apart. Read it if you must, but you'll probably end up disappointed.
I also found the characterization of Fort Meyers Florida to be rather harsh, while I don't know that much about the area, having only briefly visited it several years ago, and that right after a hurricane, I do not recall Fort Meyers being anywhere near as unpleasant as it is depicted in this book. I also don't think that it gets as hot as the author describes as early as April, but again I am basing this assessment off of the temperatures of Miami at a similar times of the year, and the relatively cool 75 to 85 degree temperatures I recall experiencing when I visited in November, warm certainly, but not the constant "scorching" heat that the author frequently refers to, its like halfway though the book she forgets that she set the time period in April and not July.
Despite some of its other problems, the book did start out strong, with a compelling mystery, the author did take pains to almost immediately dissuade the reader of any notions of X-Files style alien abduction, through the medium of Scarlett's alien obsessed mother, leading the reader to immediately speculate into other probable causes of the mystery. Unfortunately that is were the story line starts to loose both momentum, and cohesiveness, the story meanders through, the first person narrative of the three main characters, as they chase elusive clues that lead them closer to unraveling the mystery of where they have been for the last eleven years, but it never really puts the whole picture together into a believable plot. The book introduces a fictitious science fiction novel halfway through that appears to be somehow connected to the mystery of the children's disappearance, but after spending a great deal of time elucidating the plot line of the novel within the novel, the book wraps up abruptly with a flimsy explanation for the involvement of the fictional novel. The premise behind the conclusion of the book seemed unbelievable to me, and gave the impression that the author was just trying to find an ending that would somehow work without venturing into the realms of science fiction, or fantasy, and couldn't come up with anything better.
Most recent customer reviews
The ending, while touching, brought me no resolution. This book was not my choice and the student I was reading it with lost it so he didn’t have to finish.