“Leaving Time” is the story of Jenna Metcalf, a 13-year-old girl searching for the truth about the disappearance of her mother, following a death at the New England Elephant Sanctuary operated by her parents and where she spent her early years.
With her father, Thomas, incapacitated by mental illness, Jenna enlists the help of a psychic, Serenity Jones, and a former police detective, Virgil Stanhope – both of whom faced disgrace in their careers, to solve the mystery of what became of her mother, Alice.
Each chapter is written in the voice of one of those four main characters.
Those told from Alice’s perspective are particularly moving in passages where she relates her observations of elephant behavior. Her chosen specialty, as a scientist, was studying how elephants grieve.
The character of Serenity seems more developed than that of Virgil, but both do their part to move the story along.
It was Jenna’s chapters that I really couldn’t swallow.
She was 3 when the death occurred at the sanctuary and her mother disappeared. With her father institutionalized, she was brought up by her maternal grandmother.
Now, I have to admit that it’s been a long time since I was 13. And, as an adult, I haven’t spent much time around girls that age.
But something about Jenna’s independent behavior, and 13-going-on-30 thoughts and speech, didn’t ring true.
Overall, the “as told by” method was successful. Picking up the best seller at night, I was able to read several chapters and close it again without fear of losing context or pace.
And the way the story wrapped up? Well, I’m confident that during my next trip to the bookstore, I will be looking for more of Jodi Picoult.
Janice L. Habuda is a News staff reporter.
By Jodi Picoult
405 pages, $28