Leaving Time; Jodi Picoult
Ballantine Books and Random House Audio
October - 2014
Jodi Picoult's latest book, Leaving Time, touched me on so many levels. It explores not only the mother/child bond of humans and of elephants, making the reader see how very similar human mothers and elephants mothers are when it comes to emotional bonds and grieving.
The story begins with 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf, a young girl longing to know what happened to her mother. Alice Metcalf was a scientist who had been studying grief among the elephant population. Ten years earlier there was a terrible accident at an elephant sanctuary when Jenna was just three-years old. Mother and daughter have not seen each other since. Jenna's dad, also an elephant researcher, has been in a psychiatric hospital since the accident, and Jenna has been raised by her grandmother, who does not want to talk about what happened.
Jenna is desperate to find out whether her mother is living or dead as her body was never found. She solicits the help of a once well-respected psychic, Serenity Jones, who after some shady dealings claims that she lost the ability she once possessed. Serenity isn't any too anxious to work with someone Jenna's age. There is also a former detective, PI, turned alcoholic, by the name of Virgil Stanhope, who was the detective assigned to Alice's case initially. Virgil feels guilty about the way the investigation of the incident at the sanctuary was handled, and agrees to help.
Meanwhile, Jenna wonders that if in fact her mother is still alive somewhere why did she leave her and why hasn't she even attempted to contact her?
Leaving Time is a wonderful story about the mother/child bond and about the way we grieve. The story takes the reader to an animal sanctuary in New Hampshire to an elephant preserve in Africa. The story is told in split narrative format, much like the author's previous novels. This format works extremely well exploring with each character their POV on the mystery of Alice's disappearance. I loved the characters in this novel (faults and all), and enjoyed learning so much about the emotional lives of elephants. I think the author did a wonderful job researching and detailing her findings. Some of what she writes made me smile and some made me tear up. The entire novel was a page-turner for me, but the ending packed a punch and totally took me by surprise.
The audio version is read by multiple narrators: Rebecca Lowman, Abigail Revasch, Kathe Mazur, Mark Deakins who made for a great listening experience. Highly recommended
(eGalley and audio book)
Ballantine Books / Random House Audio