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Leaving Atlanta

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3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  1,185 ratings  ·  140 reviews
"It was the end of summer, a summer during a two-year nightmare. African American children around Atlanta were vanishing, and twenty-nine would be murdered by the end of 1981. Like all kids across the city, fifth-grade classmates Tasha Baxter, Rodney Green, and Octavia Harrison were discovering that back-to-school now meant special safety lessons, indoor recess, and being ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published July 28th 2003 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jamilla Rice
In this, her first novel, Tayari Jones illustrates the fears and joys of children on the cusp of adolescence within the backdrop of one of the most frightening national tragedies that most people have not even heard of: the Atlanta Child Murders. Narrating the stories of three 5th graders, (Tasha, Rodney, and Octavia) using third, second, then first person point of view, the story flows like a classic jumprope game, with two of the three children taking a background role while the third stands i ...more
Sharlene
It’s funny the things one thinks about in the early morning. After a 2 am feeding, I lay in bed trying to find my way back into dreamland (it’s usually difficult, as once I’m up, I’m up). And I was thinking about the last book I finished, Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones, and how it’s taken me quite a while to sit down and write about it. Because it deserves to be written about. I eventually drifted off to sleep (only to be woken by the wee reader’s grunts around 630 as he stirred but didn’t quit ...more
Tonya
For me, this is the first story that I can ever remember reading that shared my voice as a child growing up in a major Southern city. It took place at a time when, first of all, it's tough growing up and being eleven years old and then to deal with a real-live nationally-known bogeyman lurking around the city (the Atlanta Child Murders case). My own memories of that time are vivid; when they found another child, we were in fear several hundred miles away. Leaving Atlanta gave life to the black c ...more
Hattie
I had no idea how Tayari Jones would handle this true story told in the form of a novel. I remember it being such a sad time for parents and children and friends. LEAVING ATLANTA is about a time in 1979 when the world seemed to have lost its mind in Atlanta, Ga. The only known fact was that children were disappearing with no rhyme or reason. No one could point a finger at a neighbor or a person lurking by a school yard. It just seemed like a dreadful, unending nightmare that haunted the streets ...more
Jenny
Leaving Atlanta is a story that definitely left its mark on me. Even as I moved on to reading other books, I found my mind returning to the characters in this book, wondering about them as if they were real people I interacted with in my life. Maybe it's because the main characters were children, naive to the world, that I wanted to reach out and protect. Whatever the reason, I was thoroughly impressed with this novel, and probably even more so because of the depth of the story despite its simpl ...more
Jean
I enjoyed reading this account of the Alanta child murders as related from the viewpoint of three children. It makes one remember that children are children. They don't think like adults nor should they be expected to and one should always keep this in mind when dealing with issues involving children.

Leaving Atlanta, delves into different levels of coming of age in a time of racial inequality, parental disciplinaary actions, class disctinctions and the reality that children are being taken by so
...more
Taryn Pierson
Leaving Atlanta is a novel told in three distinct voices. LaTasha, Rodney, and Octavia are fifth grade classmates living in Atlanta during the time of the real-life child murders in 1980-81. The kids may be living under the same cloud of fear and dread, but Jones demonstrates with some amazing tonal shifts how different their experiences and feelings are.

I hadn't read much about the book before starting it, so when the book opens with Tasha's section, I expected the entire novel to center aroun
...more
Megan
'Leaving Atlanta' is an exceptional historical fiction novel that chronicles the murders of over twenty black children in Atlanta in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Told from the perspectives of three young elementary school students, Tayari Jones weaves a tale of fear, mystery and coming of age in a world so terrifying and uneasy for so many children.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would definitely recommend it to those who enjoy more modern historical fiction, true crime novels (though thi
...more
Notorious Spinks
Leaving Atlanta tells the story of classmates Tasha Baxter, Rodney Green and Octavia Harrison during their fifth-grade year at Oglethorpe Elementary in Atlanta.

"Might nothing. Think about it. You ain’t never heard of nobody black going around killing people for no reason. That’s white people’s shit."

Tasha is eager to return to school to show off her jump rope skills after practicing all summer to perfect her moves. If she can perfect her foot work then she may gain a spot in the clique of Monic
...more
Maythee
I've been wanting to read this book for awhile now. Tayari is an ASU MFA grad and has a great literary blog. I'm glad I finally got to it because this is a really good story. Somehow I never heard about the Atlanta child murders despite the fact that they occurred during the time when I was growing up. Nevertheless, I completely related to how her young characters experienced the events (the novel is told from the perspective of three different children). Jones does a wonderful job of capturing ...more
Kevin Wilkinson
In Tayari Jones' "Leaving Atlanta", the story is set during the summer of 1979 in when hordes of black children were disappearing in a time which was one of the darkest in the history of Atlanta. The plot is centered around three children...three voices: Tasha, Rodney, and Octavia. Each of these voices has a different perspective and the reader is given glimpse of their stories of which issues like divorce, family dysfunction, and socioeconomic status, become apparent.

Tayari Jones plays with vo
...more
Heidi Willis
Written from the point of view of three children, this book is not about the Atlanta child murders as much as it's about the coming of age of three kids in a terrifying time. The voices of each are distinct and vivid, their relationships and surroundings as much a part of the story as their growing pains. Beautiful and evocative, this book doesn't charge forward with a plot so much as meander through lives almost too fragile to touch.

This brought to mind the more recent spree sniper killings in
...more
Helena
Following various middle school aged kids during a child snatching murder spree, I related to Octavia the most. Her precious boxes of hammy down clothes from a cousin in another city, not having any friends in middle school, portable trailer classrooms, waiting for her social life to start, and being better friends with a teacher than anyone her own age. This book questions disciplinary methods of parents, looks at the relativity of what it means to have or have not, portrays the nasty realities ...more
Kimberly
I love true crime and have read/seen many things dealing with the Atlanta child murders. I listened to it as an audiobook and I felt as though I was transported back in time. I became so invested in the lives of the children that were portrayed in this book. It was so interesting to see how each family dealt with the tragedy, how it affected the children, and how the children were connected, yet came from very different situations. I went through a range of emotions from happy, mad, sad.... Mrs ...more
Leah Iannone
This was like a 2 1/2 star book. Although fictional it is based on the real life circumstances of the Atlanta murders, a time between 1978 and 1980 where black children were getting kidnapped and killed by a serial killer. The story wasn't as interesting as I had hoped, but it gets points for the style in which it was written. It is told from the points of view of 3 children in different sections of the book, and their stories overlapped at some places. So in one section one person would narrate ...more
Melody
Didn't think I'd like it at first. The beginning felt like someone trying to force something into a box labeled 1979. But after stepping over the scattered jacks and coiled jumping ropes I walked into something genuine and heartfelt. Set among the weary, dirty streets of Atlanta in the late 70s a story of fear, desperation, pride, uncertainty and just simply doing what you got to do emerges with a clear, sure voice. Tayari Jones rides along in a side car just to make sure the story is told like ...more
J
(FROM JACKET)Beautifully evocative and written by a distinctive new voice in fiction, this novel is a unique literary event: a portrait of one of the darkest-and most overlooked-tragedies in American history, told through the voices of three unforgettable children...

It was the end of summer, a summer during a two-year nightmare. African American children around Atlanta were vanishing, and twenty-nine would be murdered by the end of 1981. Like all kids across the city, fifth grade classmates Tash
...more
Elyce Strong
One of the intriguing elements of Leaving Atlanta is that the fictitious story is set against the backdrop of a real-life circumstance, the Atlanta Child Murders that occurred from 1979 - 1981. Tayari Jones weaves together a tale of horror, mystery and coming-of-age within a frightful and unsettling world for the Black children of Atlanta. The book is set up in three parts, told from different points of view of three different characters. The first part is told in close third person through the ...more
Katrina
This was a really good story! I really enjoyed the way the story was told through the childrens point of view.Tayari Jones is such a good writer, the way she writes she just draws you right in and you can not stop until the story is finished.
Laura
I basically stayed up late and finished the whole thing in a day. :) I really loved how the kids sounded like actual kids with actual kid worries and kid awkwardness.
Sally Kilpatrick
I'm not sure I'd recommend this book for your Christmas Day reading as I did, but it's well worth a read. Jones has woven a story with a gripping plot, gorgeous prose, spot on dialect, and enduring resonance. Just wow.

Leaving Atlanta tells the story of the 1979 Atlanta Child murders from the point of view of three different 5th graders. What truly makes the book powerful is how the fear of being snatched interweaves itself with all of the normal anxieties of a 5th grader. There would have to be
...more
Karen
This novel is based on the Atlanta Child Murders of the 1970s. Although a man was arrested and thought to be the killer, his only proven victims weren't children, so there is considerable doubt to this day about who the killer was. That question is irrelevant to this novel, however; it centers on three children--two girls and a boy--and their complicated reactions to the pervasive danger and the adult anxieties, as well as their own family dynamics. I taught this one, and all of the students (a ...more
Kerri
I had never heard of the murders that took place in the late 1970s in the Atlanta area. The author doesn't explain the motive or even potential circumstances of why someone would murder so many African-American children. Instead, she selects a few children and narrates their hopes, dreams, fears and loves in their daily lives with these murders as a frightening backdrop. While I enjoyed getting to know each of the children she writes about, I didn't really find the story complete, but then, I th ...more
Temeca Curry
This is one of the best books I've read this year. I was born and raised in Augusta, Ga around the time of the Atlanta child murders and being so young wasn't aware of the case. I was always aware and taught about stranger danger and I think the Atlanta child murders was a reason. There are not a lot of books that talk about this case, Jonestown and other horrible happenings during this time but this book shed a light on a case that had been kept in the dark for a long time. I really enjoyed thi ...more
Claire
Southern Women Writers course book #2. I’m way more impressed with this book than I was with Native Guard, probably because this is prose and I actually care about the characters.

So Leaving Atlanta is focused on the Atlanta Child Murders of 1979-81, specifically on three young, black children experiencing the murders for themselves. We get their perspectives on the events and really get to see things through their eyes. While I usually am not a fan of a child’s perspective in novels (1. I don’t
...more
Jared Tester
I approached this book with some knowledge of the Atlanta Child Murders, (which drive much of its plot) so as I read it, I was reminded of the awesome powers writers of fiction have.

Put simply: novelists create and destroy life. Given this, I asked-from the very first page-which of her fictional children Tayari Jones-writing in the shadow of a series of real abductions and murders-would disappear.

Given that Jones has the power to make people disappear and reappear at will, there is a dash of Way
...more
Jennifer
Jan 22, 2009 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of contemporary african-american lit and various POVs
I really enjoyed Tayari Jones' debut novel. She had mentioned an article I wrote on her blog and that's how I ended up putting her books on my list. And I am not disappointed!

She fluctuates between POVs first, second, and third through the lives of three kids during the time of the Atlanta Child Murders. Part 1 following Tasha brings us into the world of a young girl preparing to come into her own, struggling with popularity, and wondering if her family is as bad as is gossiped about. When her
...more
Amanda
The Atlanta child murders of 1979 to 1980 were a real thing that overshadowed the author’s own childhood. Jones clearly remembers what it was to be in fifth grade and relates those emotions with raw detail, but she also brings along an educated adult’s understanding of race and race relations in the American south. This all combines to create a powerful story that sweeps the reader away to another place and time while simultaneously leaving them with greater understanding.

The book is divided int
...more
Kwesi Brookins
I enjoyed listening to the audio version of this book. It was well written and performed although the writing for the 2nd act, the story of one of the kind of nerdy young men who was eventually abducted and killed was less realistic, from my point-of-view. This was mainly due to the language that was used which, although written in the third person, did not "feel" or read like a realistic narrative of an early adolescent. Nevertheless, in the end that even worked to some extent by being a part o ...more
nomadreader (Carrie D-L)
(originally published at http://nomadreader.blogspot.com)

The backstory: Leaving Atlantais the first novel by Tayari Jones. After adoring her most recent novel, Silver Sparrow(my review), I finally got around to reading this one ("finally getting around to reading" was the theme of much of my holiday break binge-reading!)

The basics: Told in three parts from the perspective of three black middle school students in southwest Atlanta, Leaving Atlantatakes place at the time of the notorious Atlanta
...more
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Tayari Jones is an African American author and winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. Born in 1970, she was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and educated at Spelman College, the University of Iowa and Arizona State University.

She started writing seriously at Spelman College, where she studied with Pearl Cleage, who published her first story, "Eugenics", in Catalyst magazin
...more
More about Tayari Jones...
Silver Sparrow The Untelling Pearl Cleage and Free Womanhood: Essays on Her Prose Works

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