The Leaving by Tara Altebrando
About: Six kindergarteners were taken. Eleven years later, five come back–with no idea of where they’ve been. No one remembers the sixth victim, Max. Avery, Max’s sister, needs to find her brother–dead or alive–and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story.
Ofilia’s Thoughts: This book is so well paced and the storyline is so intriguing, I had a hard time putting it down. On one level, it is a very straight forward mystery—who took these kids? Why can’t they remember where they were? Where is Max? On another level, it is a book that asks really difficult philosophical questions—who are you when you can’t remember the past 11 years of your life? What defines a life? A person? What happens when you return “home” but don’t really fit in there? Altebrando’s imaginative plot takes all of these elements and interweaves a fascinating story that switches viewpoints with every chapter. You really get inside the minds of the characters and get to experience how this tragedy affected an entire community. The ending is a bit tidy, but the original plot and fascinating questions make that easy to overcome. Plus, you get answers—no cliffhangers! A truly fascinating novel.