Thirteen year old Jenna Metcalf is on a mission to find her mother. She went missing ten years ago after being trampled by one of the elephants at their elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire. At least Alice Metcalf made it to the hospital, their employee was killed. Alice disappeared from the hospital and was never seen again. Jenna is now old enough to really understand how much she has missed by not having her mother around, especially since her father has been locked in a psychiatric hospital and her grandmother is not real pleased to be stuck with Jenna. Jenna enlists the help of a psychic, Serenity Jones, and the detective who handled her mother's case, Virgil Stanhope. The two adults would like to ignore Jenna and her pleas for help, but they can't resist the teen. Over the course of a few days they learn more about Alice and her past as well as the others employed at the elephant sanctuary. But will it be enough to find the missing piece to Jenna's heart, her mother?
Ever since reading Water for Elephants I have had a bit of a fondness for elephants. I don't think anyone familiar with Rosie the elephant isn't a bit in love with the pachyderm. In Leaving Time Alice Metcalf is studying a heard of elephants in Africa, the focus of their studies is the way they grieve after losing a loved one from the herd. It is in Africa that Alice meets her future husband, Thomas and she finds her way to New Hampshire and Thomas's elephant sanctuary. He has a few employees and a few more elephants that have come to the sanctuary for their retirement as performers. But running a sanctuary is stressful. The public is up in arms over the potential hazards and there is never enough money. In typical Picolut fashion the story is told in alternating voices. Jenna, Serenity, Alice, and Virgil all telling their stories in a way that immerse you in the story and among the elephants. The conclusion of the story will leave you speechless. Unlike any other Picoult novel, this one really shocked me. There are hints all throughout the book, but I wasn't paying attention. If not for the twist at the end, Leaving Time was a pretty unimpressive novel. The elephants were my favorite thing about the whole book, I felt like I learned a lot about their habits and environment.
Bottom line, Jodi Picoult is one of the most prolific writers of our time and has built up a following in the millions by crafting tales that touch the heart and leave us speechless. We know her stories are formulaic and sometimes predictable, but we still find ourselves eagerly anticipating her every word. Leaving Time follows the same formula, but the end will leave you speechless.