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.
This book had me like….
I always like to kick off a new year with a book I know is going to blow my mind. I am so glad I waited to read this book because, as usual Jodi Picoult did not disappoint. You would think that when you love an author so much and your expectations are so high, that eventually they will stop surprising you. All I can say is I have read every one of Picoult’s books and I was still shaken by this book. If I haven’t made it clear, this is definitely a five star rating.
I did a review a while back on a novella called Larger Than Life which acted as a prequel to this book. While the novella was about a young Alice, a scientist who studied grief among elephants, Leaving Time is based years later and centred around her daughter, Jenna. Jenna is thirteen years old and is on a mission to find her mother who mysteriously disappeared ten years earlier, leaving her family and her work behind. With a father too maddened by grief and a grandmother who refuses to talk about Alice’s disappearance, Jenna sets out to find the only two people who she believes can help her find her mother. The first is Serentiy Jones, a psychic medium who specialized in finding missing people and fell from fame after making a series of terrible mistakes. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a P.I. who was once a detective and had worked on the original case of a death that may have been related to Alice’s disappearance, still ridden with guilt about not discovering the truth. Together, the three of them embark on a search to discover what really happened to Alice. Is she dead? Was she forced to flee? Or did she simply abandon everything she had once known, including her daughter? The deeper they dig, the more secrets they uncover and the truth becomes harder to find. It becomes more than just a search for a missing person; it becomes about the three of them trying to discover their own truths.
I feel like that synopsis doesn’t even begin to cover the story, however, what I loved so much about this book was its depth and complexity. The web of intersecting lives and hidden truths kept growing and growing; it kept me guessing constantly. I didn’t expect the amount of suspense this book delivered. This is really a story about grief and loss: the loss of loved ones, the loss of oneself. My favourite part about this book (well one of them) was learning about elephants; they really are central to the story. Their ability to remember, to grieve, and to forgive makes them seem so human. It’s captivating. Mostly, though, this story is about the love between mother and daughter. Between the wealth of interesting facts, the page-turning suspense, and the truly heart-felt portrayal of all the characters’ stories, Jodi has created a masterpiece. I laughed and cried throughout this entire book and I read it in a day. It was – literally – un-put-down-able.
Okay, I have resisted up to this point, but I can’t contain it any longer…. THE TWIST. This book has a twist so fantastically brilliant. This is what keeps you racing to the last page, waiting to discover the truth of it all after being led in 8734568 directions, and let me tell you… it was worth it. EVERY. SINGLE. PAGE.