Leaving Time: Book summary and reviews of Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Leaving Time

by Jodi Picoult

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult X
Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Throughout her blockbuster career, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult has seamlessly blended nuanced characters, riveting plots, and rich prose, brilliantly creating stories that "not only provoke the mind but touch the flawed souls in all of us" (The Boston Globe). Now, in her highly anticipated new novel, she has delivered her most affecting work yet - a book unlike anything she's written before.

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 she was abandoned, 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: Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons, only to later doubt her gifts, and Virgil Stanhope, the jaded private detective who'd 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.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"The pachyderms are as complex as the humans, making the journey memorable and poignant." - Publishers Weekly

"Best-selling, reliably entertaining, and thought-provoking Picoult's newest multifaceted novel is redolent with elephant lore that explores the animals' behavior when faced with death and grief, and combines a poignant tale of human loss with a perplexing crime story that delivers a powerhouse ending." - Booklist

"A truly engaging read that crosses through the genres of mystery and the supernatural. The interspersing of elephant behavior information and Alice's journal entries about her subjects provide just the right amount of parallelism." - Library Journal

"The pages turn apace, though Virgil labors under too many noir cliches, and wisecracking Serenity seems to be on loan from a Susan Isaacs novel. The ending borrows unforgivably from a source it would be equally unforgivable to reveal." - Kirkus

This information about Leaving Time was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Lisa M.

book review
This book is one of my all time favorites. Love the story line, love the back drop of the elephants. It is a must read. How readers could not love the portions regarding the elephants is beyond me. I truly have a new found respect for these amazing animals.

Cloggie Downunder

a brilliant read.
From and ARC kindly provided by Allen&Unwin and TheReadingRoom
Leaving Time is the twenty-first novel by popular American author, Jodi Picoult. Alice Metcalf is a scientist whose field of study is grief in elephants. Alice has been missing for ten years. Her thirteen-year-old daughter, Jenna is determined she will find her mother: after all, Alice would never have voluntarily left Jenna, of that she is certain. Her grandmother is reluctant to discuss it and her dad, Thomas Metcalf is now in a catatonic state in a mental institution. Jenna has done her research into what happened at the New England Elephant Sanctuary, which was set up by her dad, on the night her mother went missing. She has used the internet exhaustively and pored over her mother’s journals. She has saved her babysitting money and uses it to engage a psychic, Serenity Jones, once famous but now disgraced: Serenity is within her budget. She also tracks down Virgil Stanhope, an ex-cop turned PI who was called to the Sanctuary on the night in question. Neither of them, however, is initially willing to help, but before long, guilt, intrigue and a bit of paranormal persuasion ensure their involvement. Serenity warns Jenna that she may not like what she discovers. Of the possible reasons that she has not returned there is the ultimate one: that Alice has died.
As usual, Picoult employs several different narrators to tell the tale. Her characters are well-rounded and appealing: Jenna is a smart, sassy and tenacious teen; Alice is much more human and flawed than the picture Jenna first paints of her; Serenity is a fiery character who once had a genuine psychic gift; Virgil, an alcoholic PI whose conscience won’t let up. Their dialogue is quick and clever: the banter between Serenity and Virgil is delightfully funny, as is the interaction between Serenity and her computer tech. It is impossible not to chuckle and readers will often find themselves laughing out loud, but Picoult also gives the reader many thoughtful moments and a few to cause a lump in the throat. The plot is original; the intrigue makes this a novel that is difficult to put down; and Picoult includes a perfect twist that even the most astute readers are unlikely to see coming.
It is quite apparent that, once again, Picoult has done extensive research, and not just on elephants: this novel explores grief (both elephant and human), the nature of memory, psychics and paranormal phenomena, and the bond between a mother and child; it also touches on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, dreams, bipolar disorder, and missing persons. This wealth of information is conveyed in easy-to-assimilate form that will, none-the-less keep the reader thinking. The comparison between psychic and detective skills is an interesting one, and thanks to the internet, instructions for folding an origami elephant are easy to find (www.origami-instructions.com/origami-elephant.html). While it is not necessary to read the two short stories (Where There’s Smoke and Larger Than Life) that are prequel to this novel, readers who do so will be glad of the extra information they provide. Prospective readers may wonder if Picoult can continue to maintain her usual high standard: with Leaving Time, they can rest assured. This is, once again, a brilliant read.

KathieyV

I do like elephants but enough is enough
The story was mostly about elephant behavior. I wish it would have said that in the summary of the book. I am trying really hard to finish it, I am now skipping the elephant chapters.

Anna

Poor
I got through 90 pages and had to return the book. I did not enjoy the book at all.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Jodi Picoult Author Biography

Photo: Nina Subin

Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels, including Small Great Things, Leaving Time, The Storyteller, Lone Wolf, Sing You Home, House Rules, Handle with Care, Change of Heart, Nineteen Minutes, and My Sister's Keeper. She is also the author, with daughter Samantha van Leer, of two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. Picoult lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

Author Interview
Link to Jodi Picoult's Website

Name Pronunciation
Jodi Picoult: pee-coh

Other books by Jodi Picoult at BookBrowse
  • Vanishing Acts jacket
  • The Tenth Circle jacket

17 more...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more literary fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.75 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: If I Survive You
    If I Survive You
    by Jonathan Escoffery
    In If I Survive You, author Jonathan Escoffery portrays a family falling apart with grace. Main ...
  • Book Jacket: Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    Stories from the Tenants Downstairs
    by Sidik Fofana
    'Everybody got a story, everybody got a tale / Question is: Is it despair or prevail?' ...
  • Book Jacket: Fire Season
    Fire Season
    by Leyna Krow
    Fire Season is a thoroughly enjoyable novel that touches upon multiple genres and themes. It ...
  • Book Jacket: The Story of Russia
    The Story of Russia
    by Orlando Figes
    In The Story of Russia, British historian and writer Orlando Figes shares panoramic and ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Ways We Hide
by Kristina McMorris
From the bestselling author of Sold On A Monday, a sweeping tale of an illusionist recruited by British intelligence in World War II.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Natural History
    by Andrea Barrett

    A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

Book Club Giveaway!
Win A Minor Chorus

A Minor Chorus

A debut novel from a rising literary star that brings the modern queer and Indigenous experience into sharp relief.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Y Can't G H A

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.