Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Published October 14, 2014. Random House (Ballantine Books.) 407 pp. Includes “Author’s Note.”
Thirteen-year-old Jenna Metcalf has lived with her grandmother since she was 3 years old, when her mother Alice disappeared from the hospital where she was taken after she was found injured at the elephant sanctuary where she worked.
With her father committed to a facility for the insane and her grandmother refusing to reveal any details of Alice’s life, all Jenna has are her brief memories and her mother’s research journals on elephant grief. Knowing that if she wanted to find her mother she would have to suspend her scientific disbelief in the supernatural she decides to hire Serenity Jones, a disgraced psychic, along with Virgil Stanhope, the former detective on her mother’s case, to find her mom.
Serenity has not been able to access the spirit world since she made an incorrect prediction on her former television show, but feels she was meant to help Jenna find her mother. Believing Alice holds the clue to what happened the night they found her, and that she could finally explain why a body was found trampled by an elephant, Virgil decides to help Jenna in order to gain closure. Neither Jenna, Virgil nor Serenity know their search for Alice will take them on a trip through the past that neither of them ever expected.
In alternating voices Jenna, Virgil, Serenity, and Alice tell their stories, allowing readers to gain a complete picture of what actually led to that dark night 10 years ago when Alice disappeared. Picoult has deftly woven together a story of mystery, love and suspense along with beautiful true stories of elephant love and behavior towards one another.
In the Author’s Note, she references The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald Tennessee as the place where she observed the behaviors used for her elephants in “Leaving Time.” The plight of elephants in Africa and zoos across the world will resound with Picoult’s readers, along with Jenna’s story, in her latest blockbuster book. PS – The author asked that I not reveal the ending, so will leave it up to you to discover as you read it for yourself.
Recommended for Adult readers.