Review Featured on The Australia Times Pages 12-14
By Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Random House
My Rating: 5 Stars
Ten years ago, Alice Metcalf was a researcher studying the reaction of elephants to grief – they are one of the few animals species that recognize and mourn for their dead, as humans do.
Along with her husband, Thomas, she ran an elephant sanctuary – until one tragic night, an animal caretaker died in an accident and Alice disappeared, leaving behind only one witness: her three year old daughter, Jenna.
Now, ten years later, Jenna is determined to find her mother – whom she believes would never leave her behind willingly. With the help of a publicly disgraced psychic, Jenna uncovers new information – and manages to convince the former detective in charge to reopen the case.
This is a book about the lengths we go to for those who have left us behind; about the staying power of love; and about how three broken souls might have just the right pieces to mend each other. But – you heard it here first – this book also has a fabulous twist. Maybe even bigger than MY SISTER’S KEEPER.
A deeply moving, brilliantly crafted, and well-researched,LEAVING TIME, can only be so eloquently conveyed by master storyteller and talented, Jodi Picoult. For all you Jodi Picoult fans, would recommend reading the two novellas listed below as prequels to LEAVING TIME, to get the full impact of the story— setting the stage for a powerful and poignant journey, where these characters intersect, while learning from one another. In WHERE THERE’S SMOKE (novella), we meet Serenity Jones, (loved her character), one of the three narrators featured in LEAVING TIME. She possesses unusual psychic gifts, she discovered as a child. However, gone are the days of her gifts, which made her famous, after a traumatic event which stripped her of her talents. In LARGER THAN LIFE, (novella) set in Botswana, in 1999, we learn about Alice, a naturalist, and researcher, focused on studying elephants. Alice has a love and passion for elephants, and risks her life and career to care for a calf, while she comes to understand the depth of a parent's love. In LEAVING TIME, Jenna, age thirteen, currently living with her grandmother, is searching for her mom Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident, when she was a child. Jenna only has her mom’s journals, where she recorded and studied grief among elephants and the animals she loved. As she frantically continues to search for clues of her mother, she seeks the help of Serenity Jones, a psychic and Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. LEAVING TIME, is a novel of grief, love, loss, motherhood, memories, and a powerful similarity between animals and humans. Jenna was only three years old when her mother, Alice disappeared from The Sanctuary where she worked as a researcher for elephants. Now, that Jenna is thirteen, she has a strong desire and obsession to find her mother. She spends time on the internet with research, devours her mom’s journals, and visits her father, Thomas in a mental institution. Did her mom leave her, and why has she not been in touch? She desperately wants closure and to know if she is truly dead. Readers will love Serenity and Virgil— these two have so much in common, lost souls, and combined with Jenna’s tenacity; brings humor to this complex, memorable and heartfelt journey. I liked the usage of animals, being damaged by humans and endangered which Picoult handles with compassion, providing in depth research and details, from poachers to circuses, and insights into grief and motherhood. For those loving drama, romance, suspense, betrayal, crime, and mystery, you will not be disappointed. This is not a fast-paced novel, so enjoy the adventure as layers are peeled back slowly unveiling a story of love. I have read all Picoult's books and each is as riveting as the previous one, and she does not disappoint. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by a variety of voices for each character: Rebecca Lowman, Abigail Revasch, Kathe Mazur, Mark Deakins, which I would recommend, for an engaging and satisfying performance. Looking forward to Picoult's upcoming novel, LIVING COLOR, a powerful novel of motherhood, friendship, and racism. Read Excerpt