Leaving Atlanta-Book Review

I picked this book up at my local library.  Written by Tayari Jones, it is a fiction work that focuses on The Atlanta Child Murders.

Ms. Jones tells the story of the Atlanta child murders from the perspective of 3 separate students in the 5th grade at the beginning of the period that the murders occurred.

I found this book very interesting as I never actually had any clue that this had occurred.  I was a kid about the same age as the kids in the book when this happened, and I know it would have been on the news, but I guess my parents kept it from me.   It sort of bothered me that I did not know about this 2 year “murder spree”.


What Tayari Jone does that is fascinating is that she is able to completely capture the nuances that go with being in School, especially in the 5th grade.  She describes in great detail the 5th grade angst of who to sit with at lunch,  or who will be invited to the sleep-over party.  She manages to show that even though some very serious and frightening things were occurring, the regular issues with growing up were also poking through the edges.

One thing that struck me was how young people understand things so totally differently than adults.  In one section of the book, Jones describes a Father/Son talk in which the Father is trying to impart some actual wisdom to his son.  WHile I understood exactly what the Father was saying, the child actually did not understand any of it and decided that since Dad had been so serious, he must be in some sort of trouble.  I think I will have different sorts of conversations with my nephews from now on.  As Adults, we tend to forget that 10 year olds really often have no real memories of events like we do, so that things we think we can leave unspoken really need to be spoken.

The one thing I rather disliked about this book was that there was no closure.  The three children tell their stories and then fade out without anyone knowing what the final outcome would be.  I suppose that this is the hallmark of a good writer, though as she left me wanting to know more.

I did look up the murder case.  A man was convicted.  The Murders stopped.  At this point, this man is still trying to overturn the conviction, and there is some question as to wether all of them were committed by the same person.  Apparently there is no new evidence.  I find it satisfying that the murders stopped with the arrest, but…I can’t say as I know if they got the right man…so many advances in forensics that were not there in the 70’s.

So yes, I recommend this book.  I learned a bit more about event in my country (shameful that I knew nothing of this!)  and I also learned, I think, a lot about children.

6 thoughts on “Leaving Atlanta-Book Review

  1. I just finished this book. I agree that things are left rather opened ended. The book did get me interested enough to read online about the real murders though. I’ll be writing a review in my movie/book review blog.

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