Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Another read for book club today! Next month, we’ll be discussing Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult, which I read in September after my mother insisted I read it because she loved it so much.

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A synopsis:

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.

I give Leaving Time four out of five stars.

Jodi Picoult is well-known for writing books that are emotional roller coasters wrapped in excellent prose, so how is it possible that I’ve never read her books? I know everyone loves My Sister’s Keeper and The Secret Life of Bees, but I’ve never read them, nor have I seen film adaptations.

Perhaps that’s better, because my expectations were minimal, and I was able to really enjoy this book.

First and foremost, the characters. I related so much to Jenna, and I loved her precocious little personality. When Vic and Serenity were initially inserted into the story, I was irritated, but eventually, I grew to appreciate them. Vic is surly and suspicious, but he grows to fit into the little triad that they develop, and he keeps everyone honest. I wasn’t sold on Serenity, but I like how unapologetically she explains her Gift – she explains it as a part of her life, not as some hokey side attraction to a big personality.

And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the excerpts from Alice’s journals, as well as the snippets we see from her life. Even though she isn’t really a part of the active storyline, her thoughts and observations were so poignant and relevant. In the same turn, though, they were also the saddest. Her documentation of the relationships between mothers and calves in elephant herds was joyous at times, but heartbreaking at others. These were the parts of the story that were hardest for me to read.

Finally, there is the writing itself. Picoult has knocked it out of the park with this one. I want to avoid spoiling the book because I’m hopeful that those who haven’t read it will do so, but wow. I became very confused until everything became clear, and I would love to reread the book now with the entirety of the story in mind.

All in all, I truly enjoyed reading Leaving Time. Part drama, part mystery, part thriller. Well done, Jodi Picoult.

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