Questions about memory, identity, and self abound in The Leaving by Tara Altebrando, an intense and smartly-plotted mystery.
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. 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.
Altebrando throws readers right into the middle of the mystery from the first page, and it’s a nonstop ride immediately — never letting up throughout the books 400-some pages. And yet, the fast-paced quest to uncover the mystery of The Leaving is interspersed with quiet, lovely, soft moments that touch on the real heart of the book.
Because as much as this book is about what happened to those six kids, it’s also very much a book about who we are and how we identify ourselves; how our identity is (or isn’t) tied to our memories and our past. Who are we without those things? How do we move forward if we don’t have them?
This juxtaposition — the balance between Altebrando’s exploration of these questions, and the unfolding mystery at the center of the book’s plot — make for an intense and captivating reading experience. Experience it for yourself when The Leaving hits stores June 7th.