REVIEW: Leave Taking by Lorraine Marwood

Published: 2nd July 2018

Publisher: University of Queensland Press

Pages: 125

Format: Paperback (borrowed from the library

RRP: $14.95

3.5/5 Stars

What if you had one week left to say goodbye to everything you’d ever known?

Toby and his mum and dad are leaving their family farm after the death of Toby’s younger sister, Leah. Together, they sort through all their belongings and put things aside to sell or throw out. It’s a big task, and Toby doesn’t want to leave the only place he’s called home. 

As his last day on the farm approaches, Toby has a plan – a plan to say goodbye to all the things and places that mean something special to him and Leah, from the machinery shed and Pa’s old truck to the chook house. With the help of his best friend, Trigger the dog, he learns what it means to take your leave.


I don’t understand how we can leave

this farm. I don’t.

But I’m trying.

Funny, suddenly there are lots

of things I don’t understand. 

Leaving Taking by Lorraine Marwood is not your typical middle-grade novel. Told through free verse poetry, Marwood has captured the very essence of what it feels like to be leaving the only place you’ve called home, to lose a loved one and to reconcile that leaving the place full of memories with them doesn’t mean you leave them behind.

All my saness

for Leah is turning me into a stranger.

I cried reading this novel. We know right from the blurb that Toby’s family are struggling in the wake of his sister’s passing to cancer. We know they are selling the family farm that’s been in their family for generations because their family needs a fresh start, and yet somehow Marwood is able to take the reader on such a ride that your heart breaks for Toby and his family.

That helped a lot. 

But there is so much

inside me that hurts,

so doing this map of goodbye

makes me feel

a bit more like the Toby

I was when I was a big brother.

Marwood’s writing is spare, but tender and poignant taking the reader on an emotional rollercoaster as we follow Toby around his family farm on his ‘top-secret’ mission to say goodbye to everything he has ever known. With Trigger, his faithful dog is by his side, Toby teaches the reader about a farmer’s day-to-day life, breaking down the chores and dangers (brown snake in the machinery shed) into relateable bite-sized pieces. Through his first-hand account, we see a farm through three generations (his dad and Toby’s Grandpa feature heavily in this story) and what it takes to call it quits on a long-running family farm and how intertwined your life is with the land, animals and the everyday activities.

‘None of us want to forget Leah, 

and wish she was here

every single moment 

of every day.

We can’t bring her back,

but we can live for her.’

Leave Taking is a poignant story about grief and what it means to move on, both physically, but emotionally. It’s a story recommended for readers age 7/8 plus years of age and is a great introduction to big concepts of change, grief and losing a loved one.

To purchase a copy of Leave Taking, visit the following online retailers:

Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | QBD

To learn more about Lorraine Marwood, visit the following social media sites:

Lorraine Marwood’s Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook 


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