Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Book Review: Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Title: Leaving Time
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Ballantine
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Summary from Goodreads

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 that she would be abandoned as a young child, 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. The first is Serenity Jones, a psychic who rose to fame finding missing persons—only to later doubt her gifts. The second is Virgil Stanhope, a jaded private detective who 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.

My Review:

OF COURSE I'm reviewing the latest Jodi Picoult release within a few weeks of its release date, and OF COURSE I loved it.  Sometimes I'm just so predictable.  (In all fairness, I don't love every Picoult novel...Songs of the Humpback Whale was mediocre at best...but 22 out of 23 is a pretty good success rate.)  :)

First, I should mention that I was pleased with how Larger Than Life (the novella that Picoult released in advance of Leaving Time) meshed with this novel.  Alice is not the protagonist in Leaving Time, but her actions do drive much of the story, so it was nice to already feel like I had some insight into her persona when the novel opened.  Larger Than Life doesn't give any spoilers, and you won't be at a disadvantage if you haven't read it, but it does provide an enjoyable compliment to this book.

Readers who decry Picoult as too formulaic will be happy to hear that there is no legal case involved in Leaving Time.  None!  I promise!  Though she does stick to her usual multiple-perspective POV, this novel had a much different feel for me than her others.  It is definitely the most mystery-driven, as you spend much of the novel trying to figure out whether Jenna's mother is alive or dead, and who caused her disappearance.  Lots of good, old-fashioned police work happening in this novel, which gives it more of a "whodunit" flavor, versus the family drama that sits front-and-center in much of Picoult's work (though there is a good amount of that as well).

I must say, I was a tad nervous about the whole psychic aspect that Serenity Jones brought to the novel.  I am more inclined to enjoy books that have a solid real-world focus, rather than supernatural elements.  However, I found myself impressed by how smoothly Serenity's "gift" was worked into the plot, and in the end, I didn't find the "otherworldly" details hard to believe at all.  Which is saying a lot, since they play a rather large role in the story.

If you've read any of Picoult's other novels, you know that she's also famous for the Big Twist Ending.  If that's your thing, you absolutely will NOT be disappointed.  I thought for sure that I had the ending staked down between two possibilities, and they were both blown completely out of the water.  I really wish I could tell you what I turned and yelled at my husband when I read it (expletives and all), but that would spoil it for you, so I won't.  (Which is too bad.  It was rather hilarious.)  But suffice to say, this is a book that's worth savoring right up to the very last page.

I know you already expected a great review from me on this one, but I promise you, this is one of the best JP novels I've read in a long time!

Have you read any of Jodi Picoult's novels?  Do you think you will be picking up Leaving Time anytime soon?


  1. I have read some of Jodi Picoult's work. Not all, as it seems you have, but I would say she is a favorite. I will be reading this one too. Thanks for your review.

  2. I read a few of Picoult's novels in high school but got really sick of the legal cases, haha. So maybe I'd like this one better!

    1. Haha, then YES, I think you should definitely try this one! All the good writing without the usual backdrop.

  3. Ooooh, I was already excited to read this one; now I'm even more so! It's sitting next to my bed as I write this. I was wondering how Where's There Smoke was going to work into the novel - great to hear it's a good fit!

    1. Well you just alerted me to Where There's Smoke for the first time! I'd only read Larger Than Life (which introduces Alice's character more deeply) but I didn't know there was a short story about Serenity as well. I will need to pick that up!

  4. I have a bunch of her books but I've only ever read The Sister's Keeper. I loved it so I am not sure why I have not picked up the others I have.

    1. I have so many authors like this...I read one book of theirs, enjoy it, but then their other work just never makes its way up the TBR!

  5. I may pick this one up- Picoult can be hit or miss for me, but this one sounds like a hit.

    1. It's a good one for sure. Which Picoults were misses for you so far?

  6. I've not read a lot of Picoult but was SO glad I read this one. Like you, I had it in my head where the ending would go and BAM- I was completely wrong. I went back and reread sections just because I thought 'no, this can't be'. Loved it and am much more likely to pick up her other works now.

    1. Yes, absolutely! I wanted to re-read most of the book once I read the ending, because it changed everything so much.

  7. I haven't read anything by Picoult, but my sister has been recommending her books for ages. I've always avoided them for fear they'd be too sad, but since I've started reading more emotional books, I have no excuse to avoid her books anymore!

    1. Yes, no excuses!! There are definitely a lot of sad elements to this one, but I think the story is rich enough otherwise that you won't dwell on it too much.

  8. I can't wait to read this one myself!

  9. Will someone pls tell me who the man was at the very end that Jenna was walking toward?
    I just cannot working out who it is… pls take me out of my misery ! Thx barbara

    1. Hmmmm it has been a while now since I read this, I will need to go back and re-read that part sometime...when I get around to it, I will fill you in! :)

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