Leaving Time, by Jodi Picoult

cover imageHighly renowned author Jodi Picoult is back with yet another outstanding novel that will undoubtedly make bestseller lists. Leaving Time is an emotional story of a daughter’s search for her mother and the discovery of the truth behind their estrangement. It is a poignant tale that will pull on the heartstrings and if you’re like me, will leave you sobbing from start to finish.

The story focuses on Jenna and her mother Alice, who ‘disappeared’ when she was three years old. She was found unconscious in unexplained circumstances, and after being taken to hospital, completely vanished. The police eventually closed the case, and confirmed Alice as a ‘missing person’. However, ten years on, thirteen-year-old Jenna is desperate to discover the truth and wants the case to be re-opened. She feels that there are too many questions left unanswered, and her family have refused to offer any insight. In a bid to search for the person who should be her mum, she chooses to embark on the journey without the support of her family.

She tracks down the detective who initially worked on the case, and along with Serenity, a local psychic, the trio form a bond and start to delve into the case, following up possible leads and trying to work out what actually happened to Jenna’s mother on that life-changing day ten years previous.

One thing that makes this novel so powerful is the sympathy that is drawn from the reader for each of the characters. Jenna comes across as the most true to life of the bunch, being stubborn but not overly irritating, as young teenage characters are often portrayed.

Another key element of the story is the way in which Picoult cleverly plays on the idea of elephants. She creatively uses them as a metaphor for human behaviour and the drama that engulfs our lives. The elephant family dynamics and the individual roles within their groups, parallels the typical human family set up and heightens the personalities of the characters. This is something that very few writers can pull off with such imagination and what makes this such an intelligent read.

I would definitely recommend Picoult’s latest novel, regardless of whether you’re a fan of her previous works or not. If you’re after an emotional read, and a beautifully combined family and love story, then this is the book for you. But I will warn you, this story will cause tears, so please have a box of tissues at the ready.

Emily Willson

Image property of jodipicoult.co.uk

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