Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Adult Fiction
Published: October 2014
“That’s when I realize why my father did not report my mother as a missing person. Maybe she wasn’t missing, not to him. He’s always been able to find her, in my face and my voice and my presence. I wish it were that easy for me.”
Leaving Time is about 13-year-old Jenna who is searching for her mother. Alice Metcalf has been missing for 10 years but Jenna knows she would have never left her willingly. Jenna enlists the help of a psychic, Serenity Jones, who hasn’t spoken with the spirits since she let fame get the best of her. She also ropes in one of the detectives of the original case, Virgil Stanhope, who regrets some of the decisions he made regarding the case. Interspersed with findings of the elephants Alice observes, this multiple narrated story will take you on an incredible journey of a daughter looking for long lost daughter, a psychic looking to reconnect with the spirit world she was once incredible close with, and a detective who just wants to make things right.
I have been waiting and waiting for this since I devoured The Storyteller, which is my favorite Picoult book. She has been on point with writing books about things I love. I’ve always been enthralled with WWII history since my family (like many others) had to leave their homeland which explains my love for The Storyteller. While my love for her newest novels stems from the fact that my favorite animal for as long as I can remember has been elephants; maybe it was because I’m always stuck with E is for Elephants and my name begins E. I’m also a New England girl and have history with a ridiculously good psychic. Since the themes in these books are ones that cherish deeply, I think that actually worked against me. While I still love the elements I mentioned, especially in the way that they were written, something unexplainable didn’t gel with me.
Don’t get me wrong, Jodi Picoult has a way with words that I can only envy and hope to emulate one day. I read her novels sight unseen. I no longer have to read a description because I know her writing is phenomenal. Every new book blows me away and this is no exception. I just wasn’t expecting my reaction to the ending.
The twist in the this book was phenomenal. I didn’t see it coming for a million years. I’m not sure how I feel about it though. It’s one of those things that make you go back and realize what a talented writer it takes to write a book like that. But at the same time, it did something to the story that I really didn’t want to happen.
To sum up, the book was incredibly well written and heartbreaking. But the end partially lost me which is why I’m not giving it the full 5 stars that I assumed I would be when I was halfway through this novel.
Spoilers ahead… read at your own risk.
So, I know that essentially, all fictional characters aren’t real. I know that. I do. But they feel real. And honestly, writers always put a part of themselves into their characters so they actually ARE a little more real than just words on a page. Writers put life into characters. It’s what makes you relate to them. Considering this, I’m not sure how I feel about reading characters that are technically dead in the world of the story. Yes, in this universe ghosts/spirits are real. But they’re not real to EVERYONE. Serenity was essentially seeing people that weren’t there to anyone else. While it was fascinating that this whole spirit world that contained so many of the characters, once I realized Jenna was dead just threw everything off for me.
So I went back to the beginning of the book to a page number I wrote that was significant to me for some reason. You know what it said? Something Jodi was trying to tell me from the beginning but I didn’t quite understand what she was talking about.
“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.” (page 8)
I was so excited for the novel but in a way, I feel disappointed. I still love the fact that it talks about elephants and it does have the reunion I was hoping for, in a way. Everything written before the twist makes sense after you realize what’s been going on. For instance, the fact that Jenna doesn’t have friends, that Virgil really did die, and the reasoning behind not having anything more from Alice’s chapters that happened other than elephant stories for a good portion of the novel.
I enjoyed reading it. I really did. It was a work of art the way everything was woven together. I guess my expectations for this book were just higher than they should have been. Next time, I’m not going to get this excited and hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised.