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The Leaving by Tara Altebrando

by Catherine Van Bergen (follow)
Fiction (320)      Young Adult (84)      Mystery (29)      Thriller (16)     


It’s every parents’ worst nightmare and biggest fear- the unexplained disappearance of their child.

This is the terrible reality that six families face after they see their five-year-old children off to kindergarten, only to find that they are missing without a trace by the end of the day. Despite countless pleas and appeals, the children- Scarlett, Lucas, Max, Kristen, Sarah and Adam- remain missing, with no one able to offer any information on their whereabouts. The distraught families only have a few clues- a school minibus seen in the area, and the words of one of the children that day, who told her mother that she was ‘going to the leaving’.

It isn’t until eleven years later, and the sudden reappearance of five of the six children, that the floodgates on the case are reopened. All but Max have returned, their memories blank as to what has happened since they disappeared. They don’t remember where they were, who took them, or why. And they have no memory of Max at all, despite everyone’s belief that they were abducted together. But despite these memory lapses, they are fit, healthy, knowledgeable and educated. They also each possess a distinctive childhood memory, which they hope can help them to solve the mystery of where they have been all this time.

With the help of Detective Chambers (the original case detective), a cognitive-science specialist named Doctor Sashor, Max’s long-suffering younger sister Avery, and the collected notes of Lucas’ father, Scarlett and Lucas are determined to uncover what happened to them over the last eleven years, and more importantly, find out what happened to Max…

This is a compelling memory thriller, which will keep readers guessing to the very end. Each of the characters play a role in the solving of the mystery, with Scarlett, Lucas and Avery the key narrators in the fifteen days following the kids’ reappearance. Not only are there several twists and turns within the storyline, but readers are able to see how various family members coped with the disappearances and the lengths they went to, to try and locate the missing children. With alien abduction theories, therapeutic sculpture/monument creations, police-style problem-solving walls, a mysterious novel and offered rewards, each of the families had their own way of trying to deal with the situation. With the return of the kids, but still no answers, readers are just as ‘out-of-the-loop’ as the people within the story. They learn just as much as the characters do, and through a creative use of fonts and text, readers are also able to learn the mindsets of the narrators (in particular Scarlett, whose chapters are quite creative in the way they are laid out). The reasons for the abductions are both surprising and unexpected, and most readers will wonder at the way the story has played out. While some people may find the conclusion somewhat unsatisfying, this book is still quite engrossing and a stimulating read for those interested in the teen thriller genre.


Rating: 3/5
Published: May 2016

#Fiction
#Young Adult
#Thriller
#Mystery
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