Thank you NetGalley and Bloomsbury USA for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: June 7th, 2016
Synopsis: 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 into this whole memory-loss story.
The concept behind The Leaving is an intriguing one, but the quest to obtain the answers seemed interminable, and I struggled to get to the finish. The first issue I had was with the author’s decision to only have Scarlett, Lucas, and Avery have their own chapters. I liked Scarlett and Lucas, but there was absolutely no insight into the other missing kids’ lives and they wound up serving no purpose whatsoever. Avery should have elicited some feelings of sympathy with what she’s going through, but instead she’s your stereotypical spoiled, rich, self-involved mean girl. And, while I don’t ordinarily mind third person point of view, in this instance I think the narrative would have come across much stronger if it had been in the first person. The story itself I thought was messy and meandering at times. Especially frustrating was the vague and mysterious school shooting which took place shortly before the kids disappear. It’s obvious that it’s somehow related but the hints as to how are vague and confusing right up until the end. Speaking of which, the ending does provide the answers to where and why the kids were taken, and what happened to Max, but everything is hurriedly solved in the last few pages and there are so many loose ends that aren’t tied up, that it made for an unsatisfying conclusion. In the end, The Leaving could have been a truly exciting mystery, but for me it wound up being a poorly told and frustrating read. However, one of the great things about book lovers is how they can have completely different reactions to the same book. While The Leaving wasn’t to my taste, there are many readers who have a much more positive view of it, so if the premise appeals to you then I definitely encourage you to try it.