Monday, April 6, 2015

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

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Last night I finished reading this novel, and it definitely satisfied my craving for a book that was hard to put down. I had a conversation with one of my friends last night, and we talked about our pre-requisites for reading a book. They're actually very simple. The book must...
1) hook me from the beginning
2) prevent me from doing "stuff"

Now, is that so tough? Yes! The better the book you read, the harder it is to follow it up with another book. With a book like Leaving Time, I feel a little sorry for you if you're the book I'm reading after this one. Leaving Time weaves multiple perspectives in time that encourage the reader to discover what happened to Alice Metcalf, a worker at the Elephant Sanctuary she and her husband own. The story begins with the knowledge that someone has died after being trampled by an elephant, and Alice has seemingly disappeared. To further complicate the situation, her husband Thomas has gone crazy, and is institutionalized. He is unable to answer any questions about what happened that night.

Alice's daughter Jenna wants to find out what happened to her mother, and enlists the help of Serenity, a has-been psychic (think John Edwards) and Virgil, one of the police officers who was on the case when Alice disappeared. At the beginning of the novel, you have one piece of the puzzle. All you, the reader, know is that a woman's body has been discovered, and that Alice seems to have gone missing. This motley crew of three embarks on the journey to not only find answers for Jenna about her mother, but ultimately right their own demons that led them to this place. Piece by piece, the puzzle comes together so that you see the whole story.

The ending was definitely surprising to me. I had my theories throughout, but I did not see that coming. Readers of Jodi Picoult's other books will not find a twist at the end a novel concept, but you will not have predicted this particular ending.

The Author's Note was the part that I found very interesting. Since the majority of this novel takes place at an elephant sanctuary, and Alice Metcalf, one of the main characters, studies elephant behavior and grief, the author did extensive research on elephant behavior. All of the anecdotal bits about elephants were fascinating. It's reprehensible to me that poaching is so rampant, and that ivory sales drive this industry. Even today, mass killings of elephants is common practice. Also, elephants who had once been part of a circus or zoo behave differently toward humans. At one point, an elephant in the story went into the corner of the barn as a form of punishment. Almost like a "time out." It's the expectation of negative reinforcement instead of positive that drives this behavior. Incredibly fascinating information that provides the reader with insight about these beautiful creatures.

I highly recommend this book. If you are a reader who does not have a stack of TBR books a mile long, like myself, this book will satisfy your craving for a great read.

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