Title: Leaving Time
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library
Summary from Goodreads:
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 that she would be abandoned as a young child, 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.
Desperate to find the truth, Jenna enlists two unlikely allies in her quest. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who originally investigated Alice’s case along with the strange, possibly linked death of one of her colleagues. As the three work together to uncover what happened to Alice, they realize that in asking hard questions, they’ll have to face even harder answers.
As Jenna’s memories dovetail with the events in her mother’s journals, the story races to a mesmerizing finish. A deeply moving, gripping, and intelligent page-turner, Leaving Time is Jodi Picoult at the height of her powers.
OF COURSE I'm reviewing the latest Jodi Picoult release within a few weeks of its release date, and OF COURSE I loved it. Sometimes I'm just so predictable. (In all fairness, I don't love every Picoult novel...Songs of the Humpback Whale was mediocre at best...but 22 out of 23 is a pretty good success rate.) :)
First, I should mention that I was pleased with how Larger Than Life (the novella that Picoult released in advance of Leaving Time) meshed with this novel. Alice is not the protagonist in Leaving Time, but her actions do drive much of the story, so it was nice to already feel like I had some insight into her persona when the novel opened. Larger Than Life doesn't give any spoilers, and you won't be at a disadvantage if you haven't read it, but it does provide an enjoyable compliment to this book.
Readers who decry Picoult as too formulaic will be happy to hear that there is no legal case involved in Leaving Time. None! I promise! Though she does stick to her usual multiple-perspective POV, this novel had a much different feel for me than her others. It is definitely the most mystery-driven, as you spend much of the novel trying to figure out whether Jenna's mother is alive or dead, and who caused her disappearance. Lots of good, old-fashioned police work happening in this novel, which gives it more of a "whodunit" flavor, versus the family drama that sits front-and-center in much of Picoult's work (though there is a good amount of that as well).
I must say, I was a tad nervous about the whole psychic aspect that Serenity Jones brought to the novel. I am more inclined to enjoy books that have a solid real-world focus, rather than supernatural elements. However, I found myself impressed by how smoothly Serenity's "gift" was worked into the plot, and in the end, I didn't find the "otherworldly" details hard to believe at all. Which is saying a lot, since they play a rather large role in the story.
If you've read any of Picoult's other novels, you know that she's also famous for the Big Twist Ending. If that's your thing, you absolutely will NOT be disappointed. I thought for sure that I had the ending staked down between two possibilities, and they were both blown completely out of the water. I really wish I could tell you what I turned and yelled at my husband when I read it (expletives and all), but that would spoil it for you, so I won't. (Which is too bad. It was rather hilarious.) But suffice to say, this is a book that's worth savoring right up to the very last page.
I know you already expected a great review from me on this one, but I promise you, this is one of the best JP novels I've read in a long time!
Have you read any of Jodi Picoult's novels? Do you think you will be picking up Leaving Time anytime soon?