This is one for both Jodi Picoult fans and those who are wondering what the fuss is all about. Leaving Time is especially those of us who have missed the heartfelt and absorbing storylines that made us love the bestselling and well-read My Sister’s Keeper, and my personal (and first) Picoult favourite, The Plain Truth.
What can I say but that Leaving Time is popular women’s fiction at it’s best: well-written, all-encompassing, and completely surprising. I loved it. Ever minute of this well-researched, well told story of the places love will take us, the depth of mother-daughter relationships, and asks the question of whether we can ever truly let go of grief.
For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe that she would be abandoned as a young child, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts…
As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish.
The novel begins with a passage from Alice Metcalfe, an elephant researcher’s journals. Alternating with her observations and thoughts as she shares notes about her research into the psychological effects of grief in elephants, is the voice of her daughter, Jenna, an overly precocious 13-year old searching for her mother, who went missing 10 years before. Jenna is haunted by absent memories of her last day with Alice, who disappeared after a violent attack at her elephant sanctuary that left at least one dead. She is sure that her mother is still alive; she feels that their time together is unfinished. Unable to communicate her suspicions to her grandmother, with whom she lives, or her father who has suffered a pyschotic break, she looks for help outside of her circle. And so, she seeks out the police officer, Virgil Stanhope, who was involved in the sanctuary’s murder investigation to ask for his help. Joining the two in their search is erstwhile psychic (and current penny fortune-teller), Serenity Jones – the one who may hold the key to Alice’s whereabouts. It’s only when the parallel storytelling begins to converge that the reader is illuminated to the surprising truth.
This novel takes us on a physical journey across several states and all the way to Africa. But it also takes us on an emotional one – an adventure of love, loss, curiosity and and an education nto the parallels between the animal and human worlds. P
Leaving Time is impeccably written, sensitive and so subtly crafted that we don’t know what’s coming until it’s right upon us. The passages about elephants are truly worth the heft of the book – it’s a gift to read a novel that also teaches you And that it does, for while any mother is aware of how strong the bonds of between mother and child are, who knew what emotional and intelligent creatures elephants were.
This one is a definite for your To-Be-Read pile. Take the time to enjoy, learn and savour. You won’t be sorry. Want to read it? Buy the book here.
Unputdownable Factor: 10/10
Recommend Factor: 10/10
Surprise Factor: 14/10