cover image The Leaving

The Leaving

Tara Altebrando. Bloomsbury, $17.99 (432p) ISBN 978-1-61963-803-7

In a twisting, harrowing story set over a few weeks, Altebrando (My Life in Dioramas) brings readers to a small town where six kindergartners disappeared without a trace and left an entire community grieving. The story begins on the day that five of the six return, 11 years later, their memories gone. Two of the five, Lucas and Scarlett, narrate, along with Avery, the sister of the child still missing; their alternating voices begin to piece together the mystery behind the “Leaving” and try to heal wounds of anger and loss among those left behind. In order to represent the teens’ fractured memories, Altebrando toys with the formatting and layout of the text: Scarlett’s words rise and fall in places, stretch, and are broken up by scatterings of slash marks, and Lucas’s thoughts are repeatedly interrupted by fragmented images (“bloody backpack gun carousel”) set in capitalized white text in black boxes. It’s engrossing, both as a thriller and a meditation on memory—its limits, its loss, and the ways it deceives and constructs identity. Ages 13–up. Agent: David Dunton, Harvey Klinger. (June)