Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Published by Ballantine Books

Thirteen-year-old Jenna has always known her mother loved her, even given the fact that her mom, Alice, mysteriously disappeared after a horrific accident involving the elephants that both of her parents dedicated their lives to protect and save. Although Jenna spent the first three years of her life on the elephant sanctuary ran her parents, for the past ten years she’s lived with her grandmother while her mother has remained missing and her father is locked up in a mental institution.

She finally decides that enough is enough and determines that although she’s young, she’s perfectly capable of discovering what happened to Alice. She enlists the help of a formerly famous but now disgraced psychic named Serenity Jones, and the very man in charge of her mother’s disappearance originally, Virgil Stanhope. Over the course of their search, Jenna learns more than she ever bargained for about her mother’s life, disappearance, and just how much love Alice always had for her daughter.

Jodi Picoult is a guilty pleasure author for me. I’ve read all of her books, and while I certainly wouldn’t call them great literature, I wouldn’t call them fluffy either – they are good stories about complicated people and interesting subjects. They can be a bit formulaic, and some are better than others, but I’ve never actually disliked one of her novels. Anyway – Leaving Time follows a lot of the same Picoult patterns I am used to (multiple narrators, a book built around a unique “issue”, a fast pace that barrels toward the shocking ending) but gets rid of some others (no courtroom drama in this one, and thank GOODNESS one font throughout the entire novel). I have to say that I was really impressed by this book. There were a lot of things I liked about it, and not much I didn’t. I was torn between a four and five-star rating, that’s how much I enjoyed it!

Elephants! I love elephants and I learned a lot more about them while reading this book. Although there were a few times I simply had to put the book down because the descriptions of abuse that the elephants at the sanctuary suffered before being rescued were just so hard to read. Yes I know it’s fiction but it’s based on fact and one thing that I can’t handle is animal abuse. Picoult uses a ton of metaphors throughout the book comparing the behavior of the elephants to the humans’ behavior, but for some reason I never got annoyed by them – if anything, I grew even more interested in how the elephants were handling different situations.

I liked Jenna a lot but couldn’t help wonder how it was possible for a thirteen-year-old to be so independent, articulate, smart, resourceful, all of that. And where the HECK was her grandma when she was traipsing all around town attempting to solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance? These questions made it hard for me to fully engage with her character. But I did like Serenity and Virgil and the three of them made a really good team.

The ending of this book is one I loved, totally didn’t see coming (even though I have read enough of her books to expect the unexpected), but can say absolutely nothing about. Read it yourself and please let’s discuss!

I liked this book a LOT. Picoult may be formulaic, but she strayed a bit with this one and I very much appreciate what she did here. This is definitely one of my favorite of her books.

Have you read anything by Jodi Picoult? People tend to love or hate her. What do you think of this author and would you consider reading Leaving Time?