REVIEW: LEAVING TIME, BY JODI PICOULT

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When Jenna Metcalf was three years old, her mother Alice disappeared from the elephant sanctuary where she lived and worked.Now ten years later, she is desperate for answers, but where can she turn? Her grandmother, with whom she lives, never has tried to find Alice, or to find answers. She seems almost uncaring as she goes about her detached, distant life.So when Jenna decides to contact a psychic, she stumbles upon one Serenity Jones, a has-been who hasn’t solved a case in years. A hack that takes money and gives easy answers that she finds through a series of clues she gleans from the clients. She believes that she has lost her powers.

But Serenity has a good heart, and soon she and Jenna are seeking out Virgil Stanhope, who worked on the case back then.

Finding him is not that easy, as he has changed his name and left the department.

But persistence pays off and now the trio of seekers are looking for answers. What the police knew at the time of the “accident” was that one woman was killed, possibly trampled by an elephant, and another was taken to the hospital, without ID. That woman disappeared, and presumably was Alice.

Leaving Time: A Novel is narrated alternately by Jenna, Virgil, Serenity, and even Alice, moving seamlessly between the past and the present. What we learn from Alice’s voice is how she met Thomas, Jenna’s father, when he visited the elephant reserve in Botswana where she was researching grieving in elephants. After discovering her pregnancy, she joined him at his elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire.

Slowly, the pieces of the puzzle form a clearer picture of life for Alice and Thomas, from the beginning to the mental health issues, the abuse, and ultimately, one tragic night when everything changed. But will Jenna and her helpers find out what really happened? Will a trip to Tennessee help fill in the blanks?

Just when I thought that I had everything figured out, it all turned upside down and nothing was as it seemed. What was real and what wasn’t? How would everything finally fall into place? A mesmerizing story that took a very dramatic turn kept me rapidly turning the pages, waiting to find the answers. 5.0 stars.


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