Warner, Aug 2002, 23.95, 255 pp.
In 1979, fear grips the black community in Atlanta as someone is killing the children. The younger generation knows what is happening to some of their peers as the TV and especially their parents never stop talking about the missing children. However, there are more pressing concerns than missing or dead children as one must survive the social climate of elementary school.
In that environment Tasha struggles with wanting desperately to be part of the in crowd, but also must deal with the separation of her parents. Weird Rodney can't worry about some murderer, as he just wants to please his father, who has the uncanny ability to embarrass him in front of his classmates. A loner not expecting much from anyone and though only a fifth grader, Octavia is brilliant at hiding her feelings, but still wishes her mother would be more truthful about life and keep her junkie boyfriends away from both of them. The innocence of youth ends when classmates begin appearing on the nightly news as missing and probably dead.
LEAVING ATLANTA is an interesting spin on the black children murders of 1979-1980 that brought fear to the community. The story line focuses on the three children trying to gain different types of acceptance even as the unknown threat scares everyone they know. Readers will enjoy the insight of these three fifth graders, but be warned that this is not a happy ending, as twenty-nine kids died during the serial killings.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner