Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

genre: adult fiction

Jenna's mother, Alice, is missing.  Alice has been missing ever since one tragic night at the elephant sanctuary and as soon as Jenna was old enough to understand, she's been searching for her. Desperate for any help she can find, Jenna hires two unlikely companions: a private investigator and a psychic.  When these three begin unraveling that night, memory and evidence spiral in a narrative where some answers only lead to harder questions and Jenna may not be happier when the search is over.  But when it comes to your mother, any answers are better than only questions.

Since Alice was a researcher studying elephants and grief, this story delves deep into the emotional intensity of these fascinating animals.  While I am not usually a reader of mystery stories, I was hooked from the first chapter, since from the very beginning it is clearly a story of mothering and love, grief and how those we love are never truly gone from us.   I love a book that, while having an engaging plot, also introduces me to a new world and teaches me something.  Leaving Time, with its focus on elephants, especially mothers,  and their rituals, really took that to a new level.

As the story is told from several different viewpoints, it takes almost the entire book for us to make any kind of conclusion that makes sense and I found this style very compelling - I could not put it down!  The only reason it gets four stars instead of five from me is that I had a hard time letting my brain be at peace with the whole psychic/paranormal/talking to spirits aspect.  While I think it was very well done and I let myself believe it because it was a great story and I wanted to, I had to work really hard.  I'm glad I did, though, because the ending was surprisingly satisfying, even if it wasn't what I'd thought it would be.

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