Bloomsbury USA Childrens
June 7, 2016
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Six were taken. Eleven years later, five come back--with no idea of where they've been.I love the premise of The Leaving and how we're introduced to the characters, including our three narrators, Avery, Scarlett and Lucas. Five now teenagers returning home after eleven years missing is something you think would be joyous, filed with happiness, tears and relief. There is some of that here, but it's all tinged with the uncertainty of what happened, why. The five of them are back, but with no memory of what happened and now they have to figure out what that means - about their past and their present, future.
Eleven years ago, six kindergarteners 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.
I think The Leaving was not enough one thing or another for me. It was a mystery, thriller and really is mysterious and thought provoking, but without enough resolution. There were some nice twists and turns, in what's discovered and how the characters feel about it. One revelation about a character, in particular, I saw coming a long way off but liked seeing how/when others figured it out. Ultimately, there were too many questions left unanswered for my taste.
It was also a character-centric story, with them learning what the five (not six) of them being back meant. How to be a part of the world again, with no memory of the last eleven years, with peoples' different expectations and beliefs about who they were, where they'd been, and if they were telling the truth about forgetting. It's smart how Avery was added in, her being Max's sister and needing to know what happened to him, being a part of the group but not, at the same time,
You can understand the characters wanting to figure out their relationships - past, present, even future - but the romances were weird. I get the one(s) that involved the time the characters cannot remember. That works on their feelings of identity, emotion, what to trust. The current romance between two characters seemed to be there because one wanted it to be (though I was never really sure why?) and because they said so.
This was an enjoyable read that definitely pulls the reader in, but there was not enough resolution for me. The mystery is done well - with bits that seem too strange, but then somehow and and work - but we don't get enough answers. I think knowing more, at the end, would have impacted how I felt about the characters, too.
(between 3 and 3 1/2, really)
Another Book You May Also Enjoy: The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman
received, for review, from publisher via NetGalley