Jenna Metcalf is thirteen years old, lives with her grandmother and regularly visits her dad in the mental hospital. Yet, in spite of all the emotional drama that this could create, Jenna is fine with her life except for one small detail; her mother, Alice, disappeared ten years ago and no one can seem to find her. Is she dead, or has she run away, leaving her daughter behind? Jenna has to know the truth. Her mother was once an esteemed researcher on elephant grief, and she would never leave her research or her elephants willingly. Jenna has made no real progress to find out what really happened, and so she enlists the aid of a down-and-out psychic and an alcoholic private investigator. Together, they find her mother’s journal, and revisit the past to recreate the events leading up to the day Alice disappeared. As they start to put the puzzle together, they begin to realize that the truth might be something truly unexpected.
“Leaving Time” is a story of a mother’s mysterious disappearance, a daughter with questions, a washed-up psychic, and a world-weary detective; their stories weaving through the lives of the elephants who also share the tale. I really had a hard time deciding if I liked the human or elephant characters best. I particularly enjoyed how Ms. Picoult wove tidbits of elephant life into the story, and used those facts to highlight tidbits and truths in the lives of the humans involved. Beautiful, thoughtful, wise, and wonderful: “Leaving Time” is not to be missed.