Guest Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
I picked this one up and just had to buy it. From the moment I read the blurb I was intrigued by Leaving Time. I was hooked before I had even read the first page.
Jenna Metcalf’s mother – Alice Metcalf – mysteriously disappeared in an elephant sanctuary many years ago. Jenna was too young to remember anything but she’s desperate to find out what exactly happened. Many believe that Alice is dead; others believe that there are just too many loose ends concerning the day of the disappearance. As you delve deeper into the story you realise that there was much going on behind the scenes at the sanctuary. The various characters that worked there all had their own secrets and demons. There is a healthy (or shall I say unhealthy) dose of betrayal, mental instability and revenge thrown into the mix.
In her quest to find out what had happened to her mother Jenna hires a private investigator (Virgil) and a psychic (Serenity). Virgil is a bit of an alcoholic and Serenity has lost her “Gift.” Virgil and Serenity seem unlikely (and incompetent) candidates at first but as they grow to care for Jenna their willingness to assist her also expands.
I found Alice to be a believable character, but I thought that Virgil and Serenity could have been a bit more… let’s say uncultured. I should also say I liked the non-viewpoint characters, especially the ones that seemed slightly darker. But what I liked most was the theme of the elephants. I am aware that Picoult usually does thorough research for her books. Keeping that in mind, I read the parts about the elephants as though it were completely possible and to a certain extent even factually correct. It didn’t surprise me that elephants mourn their fallen tribe members, but what is surprising is how extensive the mourning process is – especially when a mother loses a calf.
For me personally the elephants were the highlight of the book. Where others might have felt that it wasn’t really integral to the plot I thought that it was absolutely essential to create a heartfelt story. The theme of the elephants supplied the story with a level of depth that it wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Being an animal lover, I enjoyed reading about the elephants and I enjoyed drawing the parallels between their behaviour and that of Alice. I also enjoyed the mystery behind it all. From page one I was speculating about what had happened at the sanctuary. I had many theories and at times I was racking my brain for answers. Eventually, I was able to predict a major twist with a couple of chapters to spare. I have to confess I wasn’t thrilled about that particular plot twist but then again there were many other twists that I enjoyed.
Thanks Jodi Picoult for a great read.