By Jodi Picoult
I’m start by saying that I’m not going to be able to do this review in my normal formatting, but it should be just as effective.
LADIES AND GENTLEMAN, JODI PICOULT HAS DONE IT AGAIN!
Every time I read another Jodi Picoult book, it just cements exactly why she is my favorite author. These books are so amazing, I swear I could talk about them forever and I recommend them to every one that I can.
I want to start my review with a quote from the beginning of the book and my reaction after finishing the story.
“The moral of this story is that no matter how much we try, no matter how much we want it … some stories just don’t have a happy ending.”
One of the things I love about Jodi Picoult’s books is that I always learn something from them. The dedication to her story she has by actually conducting research on the topic is truly amazing and I appreciate her so much for that. In Leaving Time, I learned so much about elephants and it was absolutely fascinating. The thing is, I’ve never been particularly drawn to elephants. This book made me see them in a different light and I can now see how smart and magnificent of a creature they are. I also love how Jodi Picoult incorporated a little tie to her very first novel Songs of the Humpback Whale by talking about the mating rituals of whales and how they compare to those of elephants. But you’ve had to have read that book to catch the tie.
The story is told from multiple points of view– Alice, Jenna, Serenity, Virgil.
Alice took hold of my heart from the moment I turned the page to her chapter. I felt and instant connection to her because she is an animal person in the same way that I am. I could literally feel my heart being ripped apart every time Alice would describe an elephant dying (even more so for the baby elephants). Alice conducts her research on the grieving process of elephants and its interesting to me that she believes elephants grieve better than humans do because they are able to deal with the loss of a loved one, whereas humans are not capable of doing this very well. Alice spends so much time with the elephants at the sanctuary that they actually grow protective of her which is amazing in itself. One day while conducting her research Alice is introduced to Thomas and the connection they have immediately is truly amazing. The connection they have stems from them having the same ideas about elephants having emotions. So it’s extremely interesting to read about the similarities between elephants and humans that are constantly being pointed out (as far as emotions go). The one thing I can’t understand about Alice is how she can enter into a marriage with (and change her whole life for) someone she doesn’t truly know. Then the find out 2 years later that she has married a complete stranger. It guess it happens every day, but in her case it proves to be fatal. Towards the end of the story I find myself thinking “how in the world did this turn into a mother’s worst nightmare times two”. But I would expect nothing less from Jodi Picoult to throw a few (or a lot) of twists and turns into her plot.
Poor, poor Jenna. That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Jenna. She’s so desperate to find out what happen to her mom that she’s willing to do anything. This is how Serenity and Virgil play an important role in the storyline. At first I couldn’t understand Jenna’s connection to Serenity and Virgil and to be honest I thought it was a little creepy, but as I put the details together I realized Jenna grew up without her mom and her dad and that’s kind of the relationship she was forging with them. The name of the book actually is from something Jenna used to say as a small child and it’s not even close to what I was expecting. I was expecting this big elaborate real of what Leaving Time actually was. But when it comes down to it, it’s what Jenna would call her sleepy time because she was scared when she woke up her mother wouldn’t be there–a typical childhood fear. My heart literally shatters in to pieces as I read Jenna finding out the truth and trying to come to terms what really took place on the fatal night.
I find Serenity very, very interesting from the very start. I love that she brings a paranormal aspect to the book by being a psychic that can contact people on the other side. It’s completely different from anything I’ve ever read by Jodi Picoult (given I haven’t read all of her books yet, but still). In my opinion though, throughout the book Serenity is extremely hard on herself because of her past blunders. I can completely understand this because it involves children and their families, but it’s just sad to see it affect her daily life so much so that she becomes a shut in. Especially because she truly does have a gift that many people can benefit from.
Virgil was the lead detective on the case this story is based around and let’s just say it always left him with a guilty conscience. So when Jenna came to him for help, it aroused his inner demons and he felt obligated to help her out. So he teams up with Jenna and Serenity to solve a cold case from 10 years prior. Virgil and Serenity are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum with Virgil looking for cold hard evidence and Serenity listening to her gut feelings. So needs to say that engage in a lot of meaningless arguments that can get quite annoying. They act like children sometimes instead of the adults that they are, but it’s nice that Serenity can see through all of Virgil’s BS (which happens to be quite a lot).
Just to mention a few things I didn’t like, but I feel are pertinent to the story. One is the complete and utter disrespect that Nevvie (another Sanctuary worker) shows towards Alice on al levels, but especially when it comes to grieving elephants. She treats Alice like she has no idea what she’s talking about even though Alice spent years studying elephants in the wild and how they grieve. However, the disrespect is necessary to the plot and makes more sense towards the end of the novel. The fact the Nevvie rips Maura (a grieving mother elephant) away from her dead baby and tries to burying it in front of her aggravates me to no end. If there’s anything I learned about elephants in this novel, it’s that the need the proper amount of time to grieve a loved one and will completely move on once they are ready. Another thing is I cannot understand why Gideon (a male sanctuary worker and husband) feels he cannot think for himself when it comes to his wife, Grace, and mother-in-law, Nevvie. The fact that he is so submissive just doesn’t sit well with me.
In true Jodi Picoult fashion, she knows exactly how to reel her readers in and she knows exactly how to get readers to jump to the completely wrong conclusions. Jodi Picoult is so good at dropping bombshells on her readers that literally make them gasp out loud because of the pure shock of the new information. There were more than a few in this story, but of course I can’t tell you because I don’t like spoilers. One thing I was not expecting from this book was the bipolar twist on things that eventually rears its ugly head and makes the story even more complicated. It’s absolutely breath taking how Jodi Picoult is able to tie all the little pieces of her books into a nice tiny bow where you can actually feel like you have closure at the end of the book.
Sorry this review is super long, but this book was amazing and I couldn’t leave any of the details out. And I promise you, this isn’t even half of the intrigue. Please check out this book! You will not be disappointed!