The Leaving

Book review by
Lucinda Dyer, Common Sense Media
The Leaving Book Poster Image
Fast-paced thriller seeks to solve mystery of missing teen.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

There's an easily accessible (as in low-on-scientific-jargon) introduction to the science of memory recovery and the link between identity and memory.

Positive Messages

Perseverance, imagination, and dedication are the keys to solving a problem -- or a mystery.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Scarlett and Lucas both come home to unsettled family situations, but that doesn't stop them from teaming up to track down the kidnapper. Even though most of the attention and resources are focused on the five returning teens, Avery remains determined to find out what happened to her brother.

Violence

A man is found murdered, a man falls down steps and dies, and there’s a school shooting. None of these incidents is described in graphic detail.

Sex

A few kisses.

Language
Consumerism

Amazon and eBay are mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink and smoke a few times. One mother who had stopped drinking starts drinking again. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tara Altebrando's The Leaving is the story of six kindergartners who vanished without a trace, leaving no clues as to who might haven taken them. Eleven years later, five of them return home with no memory of where they’ve been or what happened to the sixth child who went missing that same day. As the five begin to recover fragments of memory, two of them set out to solve the mystery of their kidnapping. Taking place over the span of 15 days and narrated in alternating chapters by returnees Lucas and Scarlett and Avery, the sister of the missing child, it’s a fast-paced thriller, full of unexpected plot twists. There's some violence -- a man is found murdered, a man falls down steps and dies, and there's a school shooting and references to the original kidnapping -- but none of these incidents is described in graphic detail. Sexual content is limited to a few kisses.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bystan.maner June 22, 2016

Fun read

Interesting. I enjoyed it.
Adult Written byAshley B. October 14, 2016

Poor Editing

I was not a fan of this selection. I'm typically enticed by novels that come off as sci-fi. The writing style was similar to many other authors I have chos... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 22, 2016

Decent

Good read, though some parts are boring.
Teen, 16 years old Written byWelcome to book land April 18, 2017

I'm only a few chapters in but so far....

So far into this book there has been a few things inopropriate for younger kids such as when Scarlett meets her mother she's recalling the questions her m... Continue reading

What's the story?

Five teenagers return to their hometown 11 years after they mysteriously disappeared. They have no memory of who took them, where they’ve been, or even if they've been together during those years. Most unsettling, none of them has any memory of Matt, the sixth child presumed kidnapped with the five. They return to families changed and sometimes broken, and while some seem content to settle into their former lives and identities, two are determined to solve the mystery of their kidnapping. The story unfolds with one tantalizing clue after another -- the discovery of a cult novel whose plot mirrors their disappearance and captivity, notes suggesting Matt may still be alive, recovered memories that hint at a past romantic relationship between Lucas and Scarlett. And why did everyone dismiss a possible link between the disappearance and a school shooting?

Is it any good?

This abduction mystery relies on a fast-paced plot filled with twists and turns rather than the all-too-common storyline of teens being sexually abused by their kidnapper. Interwoven in the story is a provocative question: Who are we without our memories?

While the resolution of the mystery and identity of the kidnapper are believable, packing all this into a two-week time line is a stretch, although it's one not likely to bother readers caught up in the story. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about reunions. Have you ever been separated for a long period of time from your family or best friends? What was it like when you were reunited? Was it awkward or easy to pick up where you left off?

  • Why do you think movies and TV shows about child abduction are so popular?

  • If you were writing your autobiography, what are the childhood memories you would want to include?

Book details

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