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Leaving Time #1

Leaving Time

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fiction (2014)
For more than a decade, Jenna Metcalf has never stopped thinking about her mother, Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in the wake of a tragic accident. Refusing to believe she was abandoned, Jenna searches for her mother regularly online and pores over the pages of Alice’s old journals. A scientist who studied grief among elephants, Alice wrote mostly of her research among the animals she loved, yet Jenna hopes the entries will provide a clue to her mother’s whereabouts.

As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish.

398 pages, Hardcover

First published October 14, 2014

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About the author

Jodi Picoult

235 books73.7k followers
Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, including Wish You Were Here, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, and My Sister’s Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. Picoult lives in New Hampshire.

MAD HONEY, her new novel co-authored with Jennifer Finney Boylan, is available in hardcover, ebook, and audio on October 4, 2022.

Website: http://www.jodipicoult.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jodipicoult

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jodipicoult

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5 stars
59,056 (34%)
4 stars
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3 stars
34,475 (20%)
2 stars
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1 star
2,979 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 17,587 reviews
Profile Image for Lisa.
750 reviews134 followers
August 31, 2016
Okay friends. You know I'm not one to write slam-type reviews. But there is just one way to describe this book. I have never used this phrase before and I hope to never use it again. But honesty is my highest priority here on Goodreads, and I have to say it. This book was a HOT MESS. Avoid this mess of a book, which was about elephants, psychics, and who knows what else, because I got to page 170 and threw the thing across the room. I know there is supposed to be some sort of amazing twist ending to this story, but honestly: these characters were so unlikable and so completely unbelievable that I truly couldn't care less what twisty ending I'm missing here. I've never read this author before and now I have no plans to ever, ever read anything by her again. I know that she is very popular, which is one reason why I'm not holding back my feelings. I'm sure my little one-star review will get completely lost in the shuffle of 5 and 4-star raves. But I just need to say it: HOT MESS. HOT. MESS.

addendum: As much as I disliked this book, I would never want to spoil the ending or give away too much of the plot for any reader wanting to take it on. Please use a spoiler tag if you'd like to comment on anything that could ruin someone else's reading experience. I hate to delete comments (yes, even the mean ones...), but I will delete a comment if it contains a spoiler that is not hidden. Thanks!

addendum #2: I can't believe I'm saying this but I went back and finished this book at the urging of some very good folks who believed that the conclusion of the story would justify all the pain it takes to get there. I have to respectfully disagree, however. The ending, in my own opinion, was atrocious and manipulative and like so many have already said, .

For the other side of the coin, here's a link to an excellent 4 star review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
Profile Image for Susane Colasanti.
Author 21 books4,015 followers
October 13, 2014
The most brilliant, moving, emotionally resonant novel I've read in a long time. Loved the elephants. Loved the intrigue. Once again, Jodi Picoult brings the magic!
Profile Image for Michele Coleman.
556 reviews21 followers
October 7, 2014
This newest Jodi Picoult left me a little dazed and confused. Picoult used to be one of my sure bets for a great read and no one quite wrote like her. This being said, I'm not really sure what direction Picoult has been going recently.
Leaving Time was such a mixture of characters, stories and subplots that for me just didn't flow. Maybe if I was an elephant fanatic I would of found it more interesting. To me it was like putting a nonfiction learning experience into the middle of a novel. Throw in a young girl looking for her mother who disappeared when she was a child, a psychic who has fallen from stardom and an ex cop who prefers a drink,not to mention a murder, elephant stampede and dad in the mental institution. Put them all together with the excerpts on elephants, weave a story and the blow it out of the water with an unexpected ending. I almost put this one down halfway through but skimmed through it and I will say I did like the ending as strange as it was.
I wish Jodi Picoult would just go back to dealing with people and human interest stories and just write a good page turner again.
Profile Image for Dale Harcombe.
Author 14 books298 followers
September 24, 2014
I rarely read books about psychics, ghosts and the like. But this was Jodi Picoult so I was always going to make an exception, as she is a favourite author. As soon as this book arrived I put aside all others waiting here to read this. One of the reasons I find her books interesting is she usually makes me think about an issue, and look at it from more than one position. Even when I do not agree with her stance on some subjects (and I sometimes don’t) at least she makes me stop and think and consider whether there is another way of looking at things. That said, I’m not sure that is the case with this novel. Yet it still got me in and I raced through it at breakneck speed as I usually do one of her novels.
She has a knack of capturing my attention and keeping it so I have no choice but to keep reading. When I had to put it down I wanted to get back to it. As so often happens, Jodi Picoult went with multiple narrators. This is one of the features she does extremely well. I liked the use of different narrators between Serenity - the psychic, Virgil - the detective, Alice the mother who disappeared when Jenna was a small child and Jenna.
I wouldn’t say I am a particular fan of elephants but I liked the information fed in along the way about elephants and their habits. There are several touching moments, mostly to do with the elephants. As usual it is obvious Jodi Picoult has done a lot of research and so the story has that ring of authenticity about it, but I think her characters are strongly portrayed. There is also a murder to be solved during the course of the story. My one quibble is the ending. For me the ending didn’t quite work, but that could be a personal view. Will I read the next book by Jodi Picoult? Without a doubt, because she is always gets me in and I never fail to enjoy her books.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,465 reviews9,619 followers
October 3, 2021

This is one of the best Jodi Picoult books I have ever read! Of course being an activist for wolves and elephants and many other animals, this was for me! One of the places I work with through donations is The Elephant Sanctuary here in TN and I was thrilled when they put out an email some time back that Jodi Picoult was researching for a book about elephants.

I cried and cried when as in regular Pioult style she throws you for a loop! Just when I thought I had it all down and figured out, noooppee, I get shut down. I called a friend right away and told them to get this book! It is amazing! The storyline is so beautiful and adding the plight of elephants with information to learn more about these wonderful creatures is very moving.

I am so in love with Jenna trying to find her mother and Serenity and Virgil she picks up along the way. I would never have imagined this book taking the turn that it did and it was just awesome, that is all I can say. Read it!! If you have never picked up a Jodi Picoult book you will love all of them and if your an animal lover you will definately love this one!

Thank you Jodi for an excellent book of large proportions!

The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee: https://elephants.com/

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
Profile Image for Emily Crowe.
355 reviews129 followers
September 7, 2016
I've averaged my rating: all things elephant related are 5-stars, with the people stuff being 3-stars. Picoult uses her trademark multiple points of view to good effect in this novel, which has more heart than some of her recent novels.

If you're not enthralled with elephants the way I am, you probably won't feel the emotional attachment to this novel that I did, beginning with the Alice's first section, written by the scientist doing field research on elephant memory and their grieving process.

A pretty hefty amount of disbelief suspending got me through to the ending (count me among the population who is skeptical about psychics), and while I did anticipate some of the twists, the biggest one I did not.

Now I want to donate all of my money to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. Which I guess is something Picoult would be pretty happy for a reader to take away.
Profile Image for Brian.
1,660 reviews41 followers
February 16, 2015
--This review is based on a galley, an unpublished version of this book--

We all have things that we may do over and over again but question why we do them. Sometimes we just can't help it! This is the case with me and Jodi Picoult. We began our relationship when I read Salem Falls and was happy with the characterization and the twisty plot. I read My Sister's Keeper. I read a bunch more. And started to realize that she loves using courtroom scenes with a surprise twist. Somewhere, later in Jodi's career she changed her format from courtroom scenes and surprise twists to a researched topic with a surprise twist ending. She picks a hot topic and decides to write a novel around it, doing research and creating a plot around it. We have the school shooting. We have the gay relationship. We have the previous book, Holocaust themed. Now we have a book revolving around elephants. Yes, Jodi, we get it, you do a lot of research for your books and decide to exploit a hot button topic in your novels. But try something different once in a while. Why not write a simple family drama? Why not write a book that doesn't seem super preachy about whatever topic you are prattling off about?

Okay, back to the plot. A young 13 year old girl named Jenna is trying to find her mom. Her mother has vanished and Jenna is convinced she is still alive. She enlists the help of a washed out detective and a psychic named Serenity. I enjoyed Serenity the best, she was the most interesting character in the book. The mother had chapters talking about elephants which got less and less interesting as the book went on, and almost to the point where I wanted to skip it.

The surprise twist at the end? While I did not see it coming, it was nothing new that hasn't been done? Jodi, have you seen certain movies from the late 90's/early 2000's? Yes, they did that already!

Will I read Jodi's next book? ............ of course!
Profile Image for Jessi.
358 reviews7 followers
August 12, 2014
Let me start off by saying if you don't REALLLLLLLY love elephants, don't even pick this up. The first 3/4 reads like a work of non fiction on elephant behaviors, strung lightly with a bit of, girl searches for her mom story. The last quarter gets more into the story and less into the comparisons of elephant to human, and does pick up, how ever Picoult always throws in an unseen twist, and this one did not leave me going, no way! Instead it left me going, oh no you didn't, unacceptable. That's all I can say. I'm a huge fan, and sadly, this is her first novel I'm not crazy about. Great characters as always, but too much elephant.
Profile Image for Sharon.
988 reviews192 followers
October 27, 2014
Thirteen year old Jenna Metcalf is determined to find out what happened to her mother, Alice who disappeared from her life when she was just three years old. Alice was a scientist who studied elephants in Botswana, Africa from there she went to New England Elephant Sanctuary. Jenna was eleven when she started actively searching for her mother, but getting someone to help her search would come at a cost, so she started taking up babysitting jobs. Jenna had asked her grandmother for answers, but she wasn't giving anything away and as for Jenna's father he was catatonic in a psychiatric hospital, so Jenna knew she wouldn't get any answers from him.

Together with the help from Serenity Jones who was a psychic and Virgil Stanhope a former detective, Jenna does all that she can to find the answers that she has desperately been trying to find in relation to her mother's disappearance. But ten years is a long time and trying to piece together information from that long ago is proving to be a challenge for everyone. Will Jenna find out what really happened to her mother all those years ago or will she be left with unanswered questions?

What a brilliantly written novel by Jodi Picoult. I cannot begin to tell you just how much I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The research that Jodi Picoult has done for this book really shows throughout this story and I found all the facts and information on elephants extremely interesting. A compelling read that will keep you entertained right to the very last page. And oh my goodness the twist at the end had me speechless as I did not see it coming. If you're a fan of Jodi Picoult like I am then don't let this one pass you by. HIGHLY recommended.

With thanks to The Reading Room and Allen & Unwin for my copy to read and review.
Profile Image for RitaSkeeter.
693 reviews
June 18, 2017
It's been a long time since I've picked up a Picoult novel. I enjoyed the first few I read, but then got worn down by how formulaic they were. Pick a topical moral dilemma, weave a story around it, throw in some court room action and hey presto a bestseller.

Given it's been awhile, I was surprised to find Picoult has strayed from that tried and tested formula. This book does not have a story worked around a moral dilemma, and there's no court room drama either. Instead, well, there's a bit of a mess actually. So there are two very different plot lines sitting alongside each other. The first relates to Jenna, who decides to try and locate her mother who disappeared a decade earlier. She enlists the help of a drunk former detective and a psychic who has lost contact with the spirit world. Yeah, it's as bad as it sounds. The other storyline follows Jenna's mother Alice, who worked first in Africa studying elephants, and later at an elephant sanctuary in the US.

I really loved the story lines with the elephants. I give the elephants 5 stars, but I don't know enough about elephants to know how much of what Picoult writes is factual and how much is anthropomorphism. The blurb of the book speaks of this book being about the mother/daughter bond. I get that with the elephants - completely demonstrated with the examples from the elephant world. I'm guessing Picoult wanted the experiences of the elephants and of Alice/Jenna to be reflective of each other but it doesn't really happen. For us to believe in a bond between Alice and Jenna that transcends death we need to see that loving bond. Instead, we see Alice regularly dump Jenna on others, or leave her alone, so her mother can attend to the elephants or . The problem is we don't see Alice spend any quality time with Jenna or show that she loves her. We see far more love and concern for the elephants.

My major problem with the book is that the two story lines aren't integrated well at all, and they read like two very different books with only the link between Alice and Jenna tying them together. And I'm feeling cheated by the ending, because those two disparate storylines suddenly make more sense when you realise the author has set up the whole 400 odd pages just for the 'twist'. I'm getting a little tired of authors who add a twist to their books and then demand all this secret squirrel business around not revealing the spoilers and blah blah blah. Hey, once you put it in the marketplace people can talk about the book all they like. So, if you want to know the oh so fantastically derivative twist without throwing money and time down the toilet, then voila: .

I guess you could say I didn't really like this book.
Profile Image for Brenda.
4,098 reviews2,664 followers
September 23, 2014
Thirteen year old Jenna Metcalf had spent the last ten years of her life researching her mother, Alice’s life – learning everything she could about the mother who disappeared when she was only three years old. Alice was a scientist who studied elephants, first in Botswana, Africa then at the New England Elephant Sanctuary in the US, where both African and Asian captive elephants were able to live out the remainder of their lives in a natural habitat, free from the chains of bondage.

The Sanctuary was where Jenna had been born, where her mother and father Thomas Metcalf worked together, caring for their beloved elephants, and learning of the close familial bond which elephant families share. Alice, Thomas and Jenna lived and worked with Gideon and his wife Grace, and Grace’s mother Nevvie, all devoted carers for many years. But one night everything changed – a tragedy that no-one had foreseen, and one which caused the culmination of events which led Jenna to enlist the help of strangers to find her mother.

Serenity Jones was a psychic; but her powers had been lost several years before after she famously gave the wrong information to grieving parents. Virgil Stanhope was the detective who originally went to the scene of the tragedy ten years previously and had since left the police force…

As Jenna, Serenity and Virgil dug deeply into the past, trying to find information which had been missed by the police all those years ago, tantalising snippets began to emerge. But what did it mean? Were they any closer to finding out what had happened to Alice all those years ago? Could Jenna get any measure of peace by knowing the answers?

I absolutely loved this book! It is a wonderful story of love and respect, grief and loss plus the love between a mother and her child, be it elephant or human; the telling is shared between Jenna, Alice, Serenity and Virgil. This very moving and poignant story is full of mystery and intrigue, but the twist at the end of the book blew me away! Absolutely brilliant, and something I most certainly did not expect! Jodi Picoult has a winner with Leaving Time, in my opinion. Highly recommended.

With thanks to TRR and Allen & Unwin for my copy to read and review.

The link to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee: http://www.elephants.com/
Profile Image for Taury.
501 reviews88 followers
February 13, 2022
Book started off poorly. I almost DNF. Something caught my attention and I continued on. Lots of information about elephants I never knew. I enjoyed learning about them. Their love, anger and deep loyalty. But more I learned things are not always as they seem. As I think the mystery is about to be solved, the book took a twist in a way that took me completely off guard.
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,316 reviews215 followers
January 21, 2018
And this is why I have a love/hate relationship with Jodi Picoult. I LOVED THIS BOOK.

I feel like maybe I was casually waiting for an amazing to come along and then it did! But then again I have been wanting to read every book that she has ever written and I'm slowly but surely knocking those books off of my TBR.

Other than that, this book had freaking ELEPHANTS guys! How could you go wrong with a book that included adorable freaking elephants?!? Long story short : you can't. Besides loving the elephants, I liked the idea of Alice and everything but I didn't love her. Then there's Jenna who I liked as well. I didn't necessarily love anyone other than the elephants but I still really enjoyed the heck out of Leaving Time. I have no idea if I would reread this book ever again in my life but I am happy that I finally found the time to read another book from Jodi Picoult.

I hope the next book it just as good or even better.
Profile Image for Deanna .
664 reviews12.4k followers
April 13, 2015

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite writers. Since "The Pact" I've never looked back. I've read them all.

I can't always seem to get out what I love about a book. I hesitated on reviewing for so long because I feel my grammar and punctuation etc can often be lacking. I have seen some amazing reviews on here and it's hard not to feel sub-par lol. There will likely be mistakes in most of my reviews but I've decided who cares it's my opinion that matters in my own review right? yes? Well I guess time will tell.

I really enjoyed this book. I anxiously awaited it as I think it was released later than normal. Then once I had it I was saving it because I hate when it's over and I have to wait for her next book. However, this week I gave in and once I started I couldn't save it anymore.

I feel as though I can't go into very much detail as it would be so easy to end up with a spoiler by mistake. I've read other reviews and it seems like it's a love it or hate it book. There is a lot of information about elephants but I actually found myself fascinated by the things I learned.

Anyhow back to the book. I can understand how some readers did not like all of the elephant or psychic parts of the book. I guess I look at it this way. When I read a Jodi Picoult book I will read a decent story and I will always learn something. I learned so much from this book all while enjoying the story. I may not always like how a story ends but that's the same in real life. It's not always wrapped up tidy and perfect.

I would recommend this book.
Profile Image for Carol.
829 reviews482 followers
August 13, 2014
If I were an elephant I'd trumpet Leaving Time.

Classic Picoult, Leaving Time is the story of a teen searching for her missing mother. Using her now familiar and equally comfortable format of multi-charachter point of view each character provides a piece to the puzzle of what lead to Alice's disappearance from the New England Elephant Sanctuary soon after a co-worker is trampled to death. The cast, Jenna, the daughter, Alice, the mother, Virgil, a cop, and Serenity, a psychic, all play their part in taking us to a satisfying conclusion. The sanctuary itself resembles character as this habitat depicts the study of elephants and Alice's research into how they grieve. Picoult blends nature and nurture to balance the plight of Asian and African elephants with the yearning of a child to find her mother.

My sincere thanks to Ballantine Books for providing the e-galley of Leaving Time to be published October 2014.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,345 reviews4,865 followers
November 15, 2021

3.5 stars

Jodi Picoult novels always tackle interesting subjects and this one taught me a lot about elephants.

Thirteen-year-old Jenna is consumed with the loss of her mother, Alice. Jenna's family lived on an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire, where both her scientist parents worked.

A tragic occurrence on the compound ten years ago, when Jenna was three, resulted in the death of a woman and serious injury to Alice. Alice was taken to the hospital, from which she disappeared. At the same time Jenna's dad was confined to a mental institution and Jenna went to live with her grandmother.

As a teenager, Jenna now obsessively reads her mother's journals and scans missing persons sites on the computer - hoping to find clues to her mother's whereabouts.

Jenna has now decided to take action. She contacts Serenity, a once renowned but now disgraced psychic, and Virgil, a former police detective who originally investigated the tragic incident at the elephant sanctuary. Both agree to help Jenna look for her mom.

The book is told from rotating points of view, including Jenna, Alice, Serenity, and Virgil.

Also interspersed with the story are extensive passages about elephants, who are highly intelligent animals with close family ties. An elephant mother would never desert her family, unlike what Alice apparently did to Jenna.

The book contains a lot of information about elephants: how they live, what they eat, how they behave, how they play, how they grieve for deceased loved ones, and so on. Also, sadly, how elephants are mistreated in captivity, especially circuses. This was all interesting but did slow the story down (and might bore readers uninterested in the subject).

As the story unfolds the reader learns about events at the elephant sanctuary that led to the tragedy all those years ago as well as the current search for information about Alice. The book has an unexpected denouement which I found bewildering, and this reduced my overall enjoyment of the story.

Still, this is a good book with engaging characters, worth reading. It's also a compelling treatise about elephants and an advocate for their humane treatment.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot....
Profile Image for Kaitlynn.
180 reviews4 followers
February 8, 2021
Since the "spoilers" button doesn't seem to work..

The reason I didn't give it 5 stars? It dragged a little. As much as I enjoyed the elephant information it was a bit much at times. It seemed like Jenna's story was backseat to the elephants.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,006 reviews36k followers
November 14, 2015
Jenna wants nothing more than to find her mother. We know she
disappeared from the New England Elephant Sanctuary. Jenna was only 3 years old at the time.

The narrator for "Leaving Time", for the character 'Jenna', (13 years old ... bright and feisty), is by a terrific voice *Rebecca Lowman*. Rebecca was the same narrator I fell in love with in the audible "Annie on My Mind". ( another audiobook I highly recommend).

A few other books Rebecca Lowman has done the narration are:
"The 19th Wife", "Dark Places", and "Sisterland".
I could listen to Rebecca tell me ANY story...( so I must thank Iris, GR's member, for
introducing me not only to the wonderful world of audiobooks ....(literally...as she gifted me two books), but to Rebecca Lowman .... ( always 'Annie' to me)...
and a perfect Jenna in "Leaving Time".

This is another story (credit to author Jodi Picoult), that came vibrantly alive through 'all' the voices of the readers. ( ok, being 100% honest, I didn't care for the one
male voice: Virgil ( a private detective), as 'much' as the female voices ....
His YING....was a nice balance to the other female voices -YANG, though, and I did grow to like the old fart. His heart was as big as gold. Actually all the characters have redeeming qualities in this novel.

Jenna lives with her grandmother ( a crab apple to love) ....
Jenna spends her free time on the internet researching -and searching for her mother. She's adorable when she gets feisty and determined. She even gave herself a quick ( online) study private-eye detective class. Jenna has become an amateur PI.
Yet, as I was taking a journey with Jenna to find her missing mother ...and getting a
'beautiful' love-connection character study on elephants ...( their behaviors and emotions), in the back of my mind ....( very early into this 'mystery'), I couldn't
help but wonder ...why is grandma so crabby? Why isn't she talking with Jenna about
Jenna's quest to find out "what the hell happened to Jenna's mother? Did she abandoned Jenna, by just bolting.....was she kidnapped... was she dead or alive"?

I was like ..."COME ON, *GRAMS*, ... aren't you going to help Jenna out"? And ..."what are you hiding *OLD WOMAN*,... wasn't it YOUR daughter who went missing too"?

So, yeah, I talked back to the woman on the tape... but nobody answered me back. I was made me keep listening and mind my own business.

Thank God for Jenna! She doesn't mind 'her' own business! No.......she meets Serenity, a psychic, ( a has been at that). Jenna puts her face right up in Serenity's business and make 'her' business Serenity's business. After some kicking and screaming on Serenity's part ( "such an annoying child Jenna is"), ha.....
Serenity's rusty-powers are returning. Serenity has been pulled into Jenna's world.

Everybody's business becomes everybody's business .......
It's filled with mystery!
Weaving into the mystery, is the study of elephants.
I happen to love elephants ...(*Effie*, was my Elephant friend as a child), but even if I didn't ...it's fascinating to hear Alice (Dr. Metcalf), the researcher-naturalist share with us 'her' passion for elephants. At the age of 9, she fell so in love with elephants, she already knew that her adult life would be to work with them.
Quite the expert on Elephants, an activist, Alice shares about their behaviors and emotions.
Alice goes into detail how "an elephant never forgets". Their memory is so good that if somebody hurt their young years before ... they would still hold a grudge against that person. It was so tender to hear Alice's voice describing the different ways a mother elephant protects her young. She didn't need to tell us that the elephant grieved in the same way human's do --- we FELT it loud and clear. Alice's voice
enhanced Jodi Picoult's storytelling about the elephant. The words came 'alive'.

So, we have a mystery story with elephants. It doesn't stop there. It goes deeper still.
Jenna was so afraid of being hurt, that she would push people away 'first'. Who hasn't experienced that?
Her fear of abandonment was real. She acted strong and capable on the outside ....but protected her tender spots.
I think by allowing us to 'feel' empathy for the elephant in this story ...( building deeper as the story unfolds)....it allowed us to get closer to ourselves. Funny how books do that. Ultimately this is a story about love.

Jodi Picoult is a pro with twisty surprise endings ... and she does it again in "Leaving Time". I'll let you think about the title!

It's hard not to be weeping at the end.

Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,727 reviews6,663 followers
January 2, 2016
Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time features intertwining stories of past and present-day events related to an unsolved crime that separated a daughter from her mother. I adored the “past” events which focused primarily on the mother's post-doctoral study of elephant cognition. Learning about elephant behavior was my favorite part of the book, and I found it both heartbreaking and fascinating. The “present-day” events incorporated a mystery element investigated by an unlikely team of a discredited psychic, a washed up detective, and a thirteen year old. I don't have much knowledge about psychics or the ESP world in general, but I found this an interesting addition to the story.

Despite these surface plots, the underlying theme of Leaving Time - the real meat of the story - is the incredible bond between mother and child (whether it be human or elephant) and what loss does to those left behind. On her website, Ms. Picoult discusses where her inspiration for this book came from. Personally, I find I get much more out of my reading experience when I know tidbits like this. I guess it helps me feel that much more engaged and invested. The following is just a blurb, but you can read many more of her thoughts about Leaving Time by clicking HERE.
“I started to write Leaving Time when I was in the process of becoming an empty-nester. My daughter Sammy was headed off to school. I was thinking a lot of how we humans raise our kids to be self sufficient enough to leave us – and how depressing it was for those who were left behind. That theme – of what happens to the people who are left behind – became what I wanted to write about. Then, I was reading something and learned that in the wild, an elephant mother and daughter stay together their whole lives until one of them dies. Given my frame of mind, it seemed so much more pleasant to do things the way elephants do. I began to dig a bit more about elephants, and their reaction to death, and what I uncovered became a metaphor for the novel.”
I should note that I have never been an “elephant person”. I tend to avoid that particular smelly, fly-invested area of the zoo, and rarely venture over for the demonstrations. You have to admit, the elephants typically look bored and unhappy. Well, guess what? They are bored and unhappy! Their body language speaks volumes. Ms. Picoult promises on her website that once you read Leaving Time, you’re never going to think about elephants quite the same way. This was certainly true for me. I now have a new appreciation for this incredibly complex and empathetic animal. They exhibit life-long bonds and debilitating grief, causing their impressive memory to be both a blessing and a curse. Whether they are being held in captivity or being hunted by poachers in the wild, these beautiful creatures just can't seem to win. But thanks to the awareness Ms. Picoult brings to her readers, I'm glad to say hope remains.

Please consider picking up this novel. Even if you don't care about psychics, elephants, mystery, or women's fiction, Ms. Picoult's writing may just find its way into your heart.

My favorite quote:
“I’ve always thought elephants walk as if they have music being piped into their heads that no one else can hear. And from the roll of their hips and their swagger, I’m going to guess that the artist is Barry White.”

Profile Image for Maria Clara.
995 reviews505 followers
April 26, 2017
Sencillamente maravilloso! Es uno de esos libros que se te meten en tu piel y logran cautivarte a través de sus protagonistas; de sus historias.
Profile Image for Bill.
289 reviews92 followers
January 24, 2015
FOUR STARS! According to the official Goodreads rating system this means “really liked it!” I’m good with that, although I had my doubts and uncertainties going into this one. I allowed outside influences to shape some preconceived notions and expectations in my head about this book before I even flipped open the front cover.

1) I love most of Picoult’s works, especially Handle With Care. Whenever I think of Willow on the ice on the backyard pond my eyes glisten with tears. This is my gold standard and point of comparison for all of Picoult’s books.
2) I wouldn’t characterize myself as a tree hugger but I do love the natural beauty of the great outdoors and have a passion for observing the flora and fauna of my environment. There’s some BIG fauna in this book!
3) It seems a small, very angry and vocal Gooodreads mob of reviewers absolutely HATE this book and let their opinions be heard in no uncertain terms.

In the end I thoroughly enjoyed this book, shedding a few tears along the way. Actually I grew to love and fully appreciate the story the more I thought about it and connected more of the dots in the days after finishing it. The story is told alternately through the voices of Jenna Metcalf, Serenity Jones, Virgil Stanhope and Alice Metcalf. The glue that binds this literary journey is motherly love for her daughter and ...

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Dr. Alice Kingston Metcalf, naturalist and researcher who fell in love with elephants as a child and became an elephant activist at the ripe old age of nine, is drawn from her research in Botswana on elephant empathy, grief and cognition to continue her work at the New England Elephant Sanctuary in Boone, NH. Located just two miles from the Connecticut River and south of Dartmouth College, the sanctuary serves as a rescue mission for “problem elephants” zoo and circus owners can no longer control. Seven elephants reside at the 2000 acre preserve, founded by Thomas Metcalf and staffed by Alice and her daughter Jenna, Gideon and Grace Cartwright and Nevvie Ruehl, Grace’s mother and Gideon’s mother in law.

On the night of July 16, 2004 tragedy strikes the sanctuary and Alice is taken by ambulance unconscious to Mercy United Hospital in Boone Heights. Sometime late that evening, Alice regains consciousness, checks herself out of the hospital and disappears.

Jenna Metcalf was just three years old when she last saw Alice and has spent a decade longing to be reunited with mother, or at least finding out what happened to her. Jenna is now thirteen and began countless, fruitless Internet searches a year earlier for any clue of her mother’s whereabouts. Her daily routine includes a scan of NamUs.gov for any new missing person entries or updates. Beyond a single trace of evidence in an online psychological blog entry about animal grief in 2006, two years after Alice’s disappearance, the search is stone cold. The irony for Jenna is elephants remember everything but she cannot remember much about Alice at all.

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While pouring over one of Alice’s elephant research journals, Jenna discovers a dollar bill in the origami shape of an elephant bookmarking her mother’s passage about 2-3% of science not quantifiable. Taking this as some sort of cosmic sign, Jenna seeks the help of Serenity Jones, a once famous, world renown psychic who has lost command of her Gift, fallen on hard times and settled in quiet obscurity in Boone.

Initially Serenity resists Jenna’s request to enlist the spirits to find her mother but is mysteriously drawn to Jenna, who seems to give Serenity new found purpose and enthusiasm that has gone missing in her life for many, many years. Together they revisit the site of the defunct elephant sanctuary and inexplicably find new evidence about the case.

New evidence in hand and with a new sense of hopefulness, Jenna seeks out Virgil Stanhope, a private investigator who was a detective in the Boone Police Department involved in the botched investigation of Alice Metcalf’s disappearance a decade earlier. Virgil is a broken man, plagued by troubles with the bottle, but in the end agrees to work with Jenna and Serenity to find the missing Alice Metcalf and end his despondency over his incompetence and failure in the initial investigation.

Jenna inspires both Serenity and Virgil with new focus, clarify and purpose in their lives and the trio embarks on an extensive, far reaching and at times mystical adventure of detective work and personal discovery to locate the missing Dr. Alice Metcalf. Jenna is on a mission to find her mother, Serenity is looking to make sense of her past and rekindle her special talents and Virgil is looking for release from the burdens of guilt and failure. All is not as it seems with any of these characters but the clues were right in front of me all along before the big revelation near the story's end. I left some big fat salty tears on the book’s pages when I understood what was really going on!

The story is a deep exploration of the love of a mother and daughter and Picoult skillfully analogizes the intense love an elephant matriarch has for her calves to bring home the point. Alice and Maura, Metcalf’s favorite elephant at the sanctuary and the one elephant that seemed to form a very strong, almost personal bond with Alice, share a tenacious and unbreakable love for their daughters even when thousands of miles separate them from physical touch and companionship. They also share very deep and heartfelt secrets about love lost and found, about grief and memories.

I loved the story, came to appreciate the inseparable bond between mother and daughter and learned a lot about the plight of elephants in the world today. Although this story follows Picoult’s usual central theme of human relationships and emotions, I wonder if a blending of mysticism and spiritualism in the mix incited the angry Goodreads mob.

Regardless … a very good story; unexpected and unanticipated twists and turns; some intense emotional reactions!

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Profile Image for ☮Karen.
1,492 reviews9 followers
August 9, 2015
Me listening to the final hour of the audio book:
Huh? Wait. What? No way! Hmmmm... OK... now it is all making sense... wow....

We are first introduced to the three female narrators, each in her own voice: 13 year old Jenna; her mother Alice, who ten years ago checked herself out of a hospital never to be seen again; and the down-on-her-luck psychic, Serenity, who Jenna hires to help find Alice. They have alternating turns at advancing the story.

I liked Alice's chapters least of all, and there were a lot of them. We are not yet to know whether she is alive, dead, or where she is, so Alice's voice speaks of her past work with elephants, repeating some of the same facts that we learned from her in the prequel Larger than Life. That was fine as I do find it pretty fascinating stuff, but these chapters went by slowly; I was very distracted by Alice's voice sounding more like an extremely sleepy, bored teenager than a woman in her 20's or 30's. The book at first felt very Young Adult-ish to me.

Then my boyfriend Mark Deakins came on the scene and gave his voice to Virgil, the detective who was one of the last to see Alice before she became a missing person. I will actively seek out his books, so he was a wonderful surprise. Virgil was just the pick-me-up the book needed, and Jenna helped him to pick himself up out of his drunken stupor too. Unfortunately, Mark Deakins' chapters were few and far between.

But what an ending; one I will not soon forget. I recommend if you like animals and huge plot twists.
Profile Image for Suz.
1,097 reviews565 followers
October 23, 2016
I recognise Jodi Piccoult is a fantastic and prolific author, and have enjoyed a couple of her books before now. This novel did not attach to me in any engaging way at all, this is a very true 2 star rating.

The subject matter, elephants and the issues of psychic powers an afterlife, have never been of interest for me but I thought I'd like it nonetheless, having been leant it by my best friend.

I was neutral throughout, not loving, not hating. Virgil was my favourite character, and Jenna also. The twist probably should have been obvious, but I didn't pick it up. Maybe as I'm a total naysayer, unbeliever and boring stick in the mud!

Told in varying point of view from a handful of characters, although well written, not for me. I'll keep reading her though, there's many more I own and look forward to.
Profile Image for Christy.
654 reviews
November 22, 2019
I don't even really know what to say about this novel.... I think my jaw is still somewhere on the floor....

I first read the two prequels to this book: "Where There's Smoke" and "Larger than Life". I enjoyed both of them, but I really loved "Larger than Life", so I knew right away I wanted to read this novel. Alice, the main character in "Larger than Life", is a Scientist who studies grief among elephants. She has mysteriously disappeared over ten years ago, and her daughter Jenna is determined to find her or find out what has happened to her mother. The parallels between mother/daughter relationships with humans and elephants was so wonderful!

I listened to this on on Audio and thought it was great. It is done with several different narrators: The mother Alice, her 13 year old daughter Jenna, and Serenity (the psychic who is featured in "Where There's Smoke"). Alice's chapters were fascinating. As I said with the prequel, I LOVE elephants and I found all the information given about these magnificent creatures fascinating. They are very intellectual and emotional animals, and the discussions about how they dealt with grief was heart wrenching. I later learned that some of the elephant stories were based on real life elephants. Another one of the narrators is Virgil, the detective who was at the scene ten years ago when the elephants at the sanctuary trampled and killed an Employee. This is when Alice vanishes from the hospital. Jenna hires Virgil and Serenity to help her through her journey to find answers.

Throughout like 90% of the book I was fairly certain I was going to give this one 4 stars... but with like an hour left of the audio book OMG!!!! UNBELIEVABLE TWISTS AND ENDINGS I DIDN'T SEE COMING WHAT-SO-EVER!! This was my first Jodi Picoult novel and if this is anything like her other novels...I need to read some others ASAP. The only negative I can find with this one is that I think it was longer than it needed to be.
Profile Image for Maria Espadinha.
1,014 reviews365 followers
August 16, 2018
O Betta Splendens

O conhecimento em toda a sua vastidão é comparável às águas oceânicas.

E os livros?

Os livros são os peixes que nadam por lá enquanto ninguém se lembra de os pescar...

Há uns mais garridos, outros mais cinzentos.
Uns mais exóticos, outros mais vulgares.
Há uns que nadam dando voltas e reviravoltas e outros que nadam mais a direito.
Etc, etc...

Sempre que lemos um livro que até nem nos parece mau mas nos recorda outros anteriores , pescámos um peixe vulgarote, tipo sardinha ou carapau!
Se lermos um livro que nos põe a flutuar pescámos um peixe-borboleta!
Quando lemos um livro com demasiada informação, provavelmente pescámos um Kaluga, um Atum Azul ou um Acipenser Transmontanus...

Ok, ok! Tudo isso será muito bonito, mas então e quanto ao livro?

O livro? ... Qual livro? ... Ah! Sim! Pois! Desculpem! Já me esquecia!...

Esta estória não é vulgar e logo não será uma sardinha nem tão pouco a um carapau.
Também não está a abarrotar de informação e daí não ser um Kaluga nem um Atum Azul!
Além de ser um thriller peculiar protagonizado por um estranho trio (uma jovem de 13 anos, uma medium e um detective semi-alcoólico), fala-nos de elefantes duma forma nunca antes ouvida ou lida!
E quem ainda não os ama, irá certamente amá-los!!
Ora, um livro que nos leva a amar os elefantes só pode ser um peixe exótico!
Talvez um desses vistosos peixes de aquário que são um deleite para a vista, como um...um...

Já sei!
Um Betta Splendens!
É isso!
Só pode ser um Betta Splendens!

Concluída esta review resta-me perguntar inocentemente:

Será que após a leitura desta resenha passaram a amar os peixes?
Se Sim, mereço um 'like' pela proeza!
Se Não, mereço-o pela intenção ;)

Nota: a estória tem um arranque lento mas rogo-vos que não desistam! Garanto-vos que a vossa persistência será compensada!!!
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,459 reviews8,559 followers
December 22, 2014
4.5 stars

Leaving Time delivers a "what the heck just happened to me I stayed up until 2 AM finishing this book and my brain has been blown to bits" ending, typical of Jodi Picoult. In her latest novel, Picoult writes from the perspective of Jenna Metcalf, a thirteen-year-old who has spent all her life searching for her mother, Alice, an elephant researcher who disappeared years ago. Jenna enlists the help of Serenity Jones, a psychic who specializes in finding missing people, and Virgil Stanhope, a private detective whose involvement in Alice Metcalf's case left him scarred and disillusioned. The odd yet determined trio set out to solve the mystery behind Alice's disappearance, unveiling bigger, stranger, and more ambiguous questions along the way.

Picoult showcases her talent by writing about elephants and psychics in Leaving Time, two topics that sound - at least to some people - boring and/or bogus. Despite the challenge these elements of the story brought, Picoult weaves them in to the main plot with finesse and skill. She uses explicit and well-researched detail to integrate her knowledge of elephants and psychics into the main plot, and both topics add a unique flavor to this book that sets it apart from other Picoult novels. The richness and confidence of her prose compels you to turn the pages, and before you know it you have been whisked away into the characters' worlds.

Picoult's characters act as the emotional core of this story. The main trio - Jenna, Virgil, and Serenity - all come from different places in life yet complement each other so well, due to their humorous bickering and shared desire to find Alice. While I wanted a little more complexity from some of the characters' paradigms, I still found myself getting caught up in my feelings as the story progressed and the characters' relationships deepened. By the last 150 pages, I needed to know what happened to these people, just as much as I would wish to hear the sordid back story of a real person in my life, like a high school acquaintance or the woman who I brushed arms with in the grocery store.

Overall, a super solid read, one of my favorite works of fiction of 2014. I recommend Leaving Time to fans of Jodi Picoult who want to try something a little different; instead of a court case, Picoult includes elephants and the supernatural world. However, just as in all her other books, human relationships take center stage, as they always should.
Profile Image for Marie Rossi.
152 reviews6 followers
October 28, 2014
I agree with the reviewers who felt confused by this book. Pic out seems to be moving in a new direction with her last two books; wolves and now elephants. This latest novel of hers was all over the place in characters, setting, and plot. By the end, I felt like she was imitating film directer M. Night Shyamalan---"I see dead people".
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kirsten .
1,591 reviews255 followers
May 27, 2016
Oh. My. God. This book was incredible! I read this at the recommendation of Ginger and am I glad she did! It is incredible. This is a story about grief and family and healing and ---- elephants! I have always liked elephants - they are so incredible. The bonds they make, their ability to empathize. Did you know they are one of the few animals that can recognize that the reflection they see as themselves?

This book just grabbed on to my heartstrings and wouldn't let go. And the twist at the end? I did not see that coming! Not. At. All. But it really made the book come alive for me. I am so glad I read this book and I almost feel that I need to read it again!
Profile Image for MarciaB - Book Muster Down Under.
227 reviews31 followers
November 28, 2014
“It does not matter who you are or what kind of personal relationship you’ve forged with an elephant: Come between her and her calf, and she will kill you."

Having read Larger Than Life, one of the prequels to this novel (the other being Where There's Smoke), I thought that I was prepared for what Jodi Picoult was going to present me with in this, her twenty-second novel, but boy was I wrong! In fact, she totally blew me out of the water with this one.

Told in two parts from the POVs of Jenna, Alice, Virgil and Serenity, the first part builds up to a confrontation with Jenna’s father, Thomas, whilst the second part begins to unravel the mystery surrounding Alice’s disappearance.

To give you a bit of a background on Alice, she was in Africa, researching grief in elephants when her and Thomas Metcalf met. A woman who was ridiculed by her peers for what she had chosen to study, when she met Thomas, she knew she'd found her soulmate as he was the first person who understood what she was trying to determine in her relentless research. When he left, she felt like she’d lost something even though they kept in contact. Finding herself pregnant she decided to take him up on his invitation to visit him in America and the rest, they say, is history.

Sadly, for Jenna, she was just three years old when Alice disappeared without a trace. Now thirteen and living with her grandmother who never speaks about her daughter’s disappearance, all Jenna has are fractured memories through the eyes of her three year old self and her mother’s research journals. Because of all that remains unspoken, she hurts, like any child would, and desperately wants to get all the answers behind her mother’s abandonment. An intelligent young girl, she’s save up some money and begins to do her own amateur detective work, gathers clues along with other bits and pieces and, under the pretext of doing babysitting jobs, sets out to enlist the help of Serenity Jones and Virgil Stanhope, in the hopes that, together, they will be able to find Alice.

Once famous for the work that she did helping people find their lost loved ones, Serenity is now a down-on-her-luck, has-been psychic. Having won three Emmy Awards and clicked heels with a variety of celebrities, that all became a mere memory when one serious mistake led her to lose everything from her credibility to her self-confidence.

Virgil, an ex-detective turned private eye, who now prefers to investigate the contents of a bottle, became disillusioned with his job whilst investigating a case at the elephant sanctuary in which one person was found dead and the other unconscious. While his gut instinct had told him to dig deeper, his partner, Donny, had warned him off investigating further, preferring to bury an inconsistency in the evidence they had procured.

Together, Jenna, Serenity and Virgil form a tenacious trio as their search leads them from New England to Tennessee and back again, in what can only be described as a soul-searching expedition of remembrances and self-discovery.

Along with just a handful of other overseas authors, Jodi Picoult is one of my favourites and has been ever since I discovered her in the early 1990s. In this, her twenty-third novel, there is no denying that her writing continues to strengthen and the amount of research she puts into it is extensive, specifically in regard to the elephants, from their mothering and behavioural instincts, to the memories they retain and the grief they overcome, both in the wild and in captivity.

With her rich prose and descriptions, Jodi draws parallels between elephant herds and human families whilst skilfully demonstrating the emotional impacts created by an unseen umbilicus being torn away and I thoroughly enjoyed the way she switched between the perspectives of Jenna, Virgil and Serenity, along with Alice’s memories of her research and life, with the elephants providing a strong emotional centre.

It’s true that the bond between a mother and her child is unbreakable and I can attest to that wholeheartedly. Being an immigrant who left hers behind six years ago, to take up residence on the other side of the world, was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But the difference between me, Jenna and Alice, was that I was an adult and mine was planned and, although I suffered severe personal trauma and grief for the first two years, nothing can be worse than your mother being wrenched from you and not having any answers to the questions that linger but remain unspoken.

The other reason this story resonated with me, goes even deeper - the setting. It's true that Africa beats to the rhythm of its own drum and, coming from South Africa myself, Jodi made me call to mind my own experiences in the African wild and believe me when I say there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. She sums it up perfectly in the following passage:

“You have to understand – there is a romance to Africa. You can see a sunset and believe you have witnessed the hand of God. You watch the slow lope of a lioness and forget to breath. You marvel at the tripod of a giraffe bent to water. In Africa, there are iridescent blues on the wings of birds that you do not see anywhere else in nature. In Africa, in the midday heat, you can see blisters in the atmosphere. When you are in Africa, you feel primordial, rocked in the cradle of the world.”

The story is told with skillfulness and elegance whilst the pacing kept me intrigued and the suspense almost killed me as I was captivated by Jenna’s unrelenting search for her mother. What was she going to uncover? Would she find Alice? Were all her questions finally going to be answered?

By no means maudlin, Jodi’s poignant narration and distinct voice will mesmerise readers as she tells a story that will touch your heart, have you reflecting on the memories we keep and the pain that we bury all the while leading you to a cracker of an ending that will undoubtedly have you questioning everything you've ever believed in.
Profile Image for Britany.
966 reviews418 followers
August 18, 2016
A thirteen year old girl, a dried up detective with a drinking problem, and a psychic walk into a diner...

Jodi Picoult has done it again! A couple different storylines merging together told from multiple character perspectives (in true Picoult style!). An elephant sanctuary sets the stage for this book, and I immediately fell in love with the stories surrounding the elephants and their histories- some happy, some tragic. Jenna Metcalf is searching for her mother- as she disappeared one night when the elephants trampled and killed someone and Alice Metcalf went to the hospital and disappeared. Jenna ropes in Serenity Jones (psychic) and Virgil (detective) to help find her missing mom. The cast of characters was quite the motley crew of misfits, but I grew to love them all individually. A few of the threads were unnecessary for me . What really brought this one up for me was the unexpected ending. I think my jaw hit the ground as I wasn't expecting it, and then become emotional relating the mother/daughter relationship to the elephants and their calves.

Good narrative, great on audio mixed with different narrators brought this one to life. My favorite character was Serenity and her cotton candy pink hairdo. I've always been intrigued by psychics and that part mixed with the elephant stuff really made this one stick for me.
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