For over a decade, Jenna Metcalf obsesses on her vanished mom Alice. Jenna searches online, rereads journals of the scientist who studied grief among elephants. Two unlikely allies are Serenity Jones, psychic for missing people who doubts her gift, and Virgil Stanhope, jaded PI who originally investigated cases of Alice and her colleague. Hard questions and answers.
What I Liked
People always look at me like I’m crazy when I say I’ve never read Jodi Picoult, and now, after reading this book, I think I finally understand why. Leaving Time is a magical story of the love between a mother and her daughter and the ways we try to deal with our own guilt. Interwoven with Jenna’s journey to find her missing mother, Alice, are enchanting sections about the science and culture of elephants. I’ve always known there was more to these magnificent giants than many believe, but learning about their mourning and mother habits through Alice’s journals was fascinating. The way Picoult used this information about elephants to bring to light Jenna’s story was intricate and beautiful. It reminded me of an adult version of The Thing About Jellyfish in the way it wraps its tendrils around you with the loving similarities between human relationships and the natural world. It’s a beautiful story, and one I could see myself reading again and again.
What I Didn’t Like
Honestly, though, the ending was totally bizarre to me, and felt jarring after the quiet magic of the rest of the story. The majority of the book is so gentle and wonderful that the supernatural ending felt gimmicky and out of balance, almost as if it was written for a different story. While it was well-written and interesting, it just didn’t feel in keeping with the rest of the book, and left me feeling a bit unsettled and disappointed.
Despite my beef with the way Picoult ended the book, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. The prose is magnetic and draws the reader into the luminous magic of the world around us, all the while focusing in on the delicate relationship between a mother and her child. If I were you, I’d get my hands on a copy right away–it’s one of the most truly wonderful reads I’ve encountered this summer.
About the Author
Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty-two novels, including the #1 New York Times bestsellers The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Between the Lines, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister’s Keeper. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.