Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

I think every blogger has a few authors that they are the champions of. The one that every time we read one of their books we’re completely baffled why we don’t see their name on every single book blog, ever. For me, one of those authors is Tayari Jones. I picked up her novel The Untelling because I liked the book cover. Yes, that’s how this started. I thought it was amazing. Go read for yourself.

I knew that I would have to read everything that Jones has ever written. So far, that is Leaving Atlanta and the soon-to-be-published Silver Sparrow. As I wait patiently for Silver Sparrow, I decided to finally read Leaving Atlanta. To be more specific, I listened to it on audio.

Leaving Atlanta is about the year 1979 in Atlanta, where a series of murders of young black children terrified a community. Told from the perspectives of three different children affected by the murders: Tasha, a middle-class girl who has feelings for a boy from the projects in her class, Rodney, the class loner who is beginning to befriend the final narrator, Octavia, an intelligent girl who lives across the street from the projects and is deeply affected by the murders. All three narrators have very distinct voices and perspectives of the murders.

Like The Untelling, Leaving Atlanta might have a definitive plot, but it is at the same time about so much more. Jones deftly weaves in discussions on race, class and the intricacies of the fifth-grade social life, because when you are a fifth-grader, those three things are so equally important. Jones never loses sight of the fact that her narrators are children. This novel is so detailed, perfectly capturing a moment in time. I feel like these children are living and breathing, rather than just characters in a novel. I found myself wanting to keep driving after I’d gotten to my destination just so I could keep listening.

As for the audio, two of the three narrators were fabulous, while the male narrator’s voice really took me out of the story at first. Also Rodney’s narration is in the second-person, which is different, and not my favorite style, but actually worked quite well. Fortunately Jones’s prose is powerful enough to rise above an annoying narrator and after the first fifteen minutes or so of his narration I hardly noticed.

So please, listen to me. You should be reading Tayari Jones. Now you have no excuse, I’ve reminded you twice. And as soon as Silver Sparrow comes out, I’m sure I’ll be reminding you again.

So go read this!: now | tomorrow | next week | next month | next year | when you’ve exhausted your TBR pile

I can’t find any other blog posts about this book! So see! This is my point! GO READ IT! Then I’ll add the link to your post about Leaving Atlanta here.


8 thoughts on “Leaving Atlanta by Tayari Jones

  1. I first heard of Tayari Jones from my favorite novelist (Pearl Cleage) on Facebook and prompted ordered Leaving Atlanta on my Kindle, where it remains unread (sigh.) It sounds amazing, and Pearl has never steered me wrong before. You should check out her novels too!

  2. I love getting recommendations for authors I’ve never heard of before. This one’s going on the TBR pile 🙂

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