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Leaving Time: A Novel Hardcover – October 14, 2014

4.3 out of 5 stars 6,995 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, October 2014: Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time weaves elephant behavior into a search for a missing mother. The connection isn't as odd as it might sound at first, and Picoult has written another page-turning novel, even as it focuses on motherhood, loss, and grief. Teenager Jenna Metcalf was just three years old when her mother disappeared from an elephant sanctuary. Ten years later, she takes up the search for her mother, Alice, by studying Alice’s decade-old journals on grieving elephants. The research itself is fascinating, the hints about Alice’s disappearance are compelling; but Jenna cannot find her mother on her own. By enlisting the help of a formerly famous—now infamous—psychic, as well as a down-and-out private detective whose career went south during the botched investigation of Alice's disappearance, Jenna forms a sort of new family to help her in her quest. As the facts begin to come together—described in alternating chapters by Jenna, the psychic, the private detective, and Alice’s journals—it all heads toward a thrilling conclusion. And, yes, there is a big twist at the end. – Chris Schluep


“Piercing and uplifting . . . a smart, accessible yarn with a suspenseful puzzle at its core.”The Boston Globe
“Poignant . . . an entertaining tale about parental love, friendship, loss.”The Washington Post
“A riveting drama.”Us Weekly
“[A] moving tale.”People
“A fast-paced, surprise-ending mystery.”USA Today
“In Jenna, [Jodi] Picoult has created an unforgettable character who will easily endear herself to each and every reader. . . . Leaving Time may be her finest work yet.”Bookreporter
“[A] captivating and emotional story.”BookPage
“With plenty of twists and a surprising ending, [Leaving Time] explores the grieving process and what happens when we cannot move on.”Woman’s Day
“A moving and emotional story.”Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A truly engaging read . . . Full of the deep characters and multilayered story lines that have earned [Picoult] a spot in many readers’ hearts.”Library Journal
“Delivers a powerhouse ending.”Booklist
“Memorable and poignant.”Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1St Edition edition (October 14, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345544927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345544926
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6,995 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,877 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephanie Crawford VINE VOICE on September 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
No spoilers!

I just closed this book, and I was actually sobbing From the start, it's a slow burn-- each character gets their own chapter, part of it's in past tense to slowly fill in information-- and it doesn't take long to care deeply about each of them. I'd follow each of these characters off a cliff.

Emotion aside, this was a fabulous read. The entire plot is heavily centered on elephants-- how they grieve and how scientists try to reckon what can be observed logically and what can be discovered by observing emotion. It ties in so well to the human drama, that the elephants aren't a background, but they're just as vital in their personalities as the people are. Family dynamics and their impact are the heart of the book.

It's a very matter-of-fact book at the start, our hero is an intelligent, funny young teenager named Jenna, who is a great mix of curious and stubborn without being annoyingly precocious. The book slowly starts descending into metaphysics/psychics, and one of the main characters is a disgraced psychic, so we are given hints at it. Still, bringing that element into a book centered around an endangered species and a skeptical ex-cop and scientists could have REALLY failed, if not for Picoult's deft touch. It really felt like she lived with her cast as she created them, and sometimes I was gripping the book hard, worried about them. As much as I love reading, that doesn't happen often.

A mix of thriller, mystery, family drama, love story and more... if you're a Picoult fan, I can't imagine you'd be disappointed. If you're a new reader to her, this is a fantastic place to start. Excuse me, now I need to go fix my mascara.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a very unique, unusual and entertaining mystery thriller. Really unlike anything I've read before. At the base of it is a teenage girl(Jenna) searching for her missing mother. Jenna must puzzle out why her mother, Alice, disappeared from the New England Elephant Sanctuary. What separates this mystery from others is that Picoult weaves the emotional lives of elephants with that of Jenna and Alice and other human characters. It's really haunting how she depicts grief and loss and can get to you emotionally at times. The character study of elephant behavior was done deftly was very interesting, especially how intertwined with the mystery.

Add to that a great cast of characters and an excellent conclusion. Jenna is one of the best characters I've read in years. She's funny, sassy, and independent, but yet vulnerable. After reading Leaving Time if you haven't been changed or emotionally touched then you may not be human. I'm a big macho weightlifter guy and it had me in tears at times. When a novel can affect me that much it indeed deserves high accolades. One of the best books I've read in ages! Admittedly, this book won't be for every one because it's an emotional roll-a-coaster of love and loss and it is different(much) from what most people have read. If you've read Picoult before or are fan I suspect you'll love Leaving Time. If you're new to her or you think this might not be for you, then I recommend you take the leap. You may find a gem!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Toward the end of this book, the author (or I guess, supposedly Alice) observes “ninety-eight percent of science is quantifiable,” arguing that there still remains that two percent of human (and animal) behavior that remains beyond the reach of science. To that I would essentially agree. Love, grief, and faith are complex behaviors that can never be fully predicted or understood by rational means.
The problem I have with this book is that Jodi Picoult allows the two percent not just to exist alongside the rational, but in many ways overrule it. Despite attempts to disguise what she is doing—including a “just the facts, ma’am” hard-nosed ex-detective character and attempts to distinguish between fake psychics and real ones, early on, when a scarf floats magically fifteen feet up into a tree in the midst of multi-acre sanctuary to reveal an important clue, one realizes that one has entered to world of magical realism where anything goes.
As a result, none of the characters ever became real to me. I felt like I was watching someone perform with finger puppets. Despite the wagging of fingers and voice alterations, it was always clear who is speaking—namely, the author, who was stage managing events for her own purposes, without limits set by character driven needs or the sheer logic of reality. Though each chapter supposedly offered the viewpoint of one of the four main characters, I often forget which one was speaking at the moment as they often sounded so much alike—each of them unable to resist the occasional authorial flourish.
As other reviewers have remarked, this book is intricately plotted, well researched, and holds your attention. But great literature? I would like to believe that Jodi Picoult is better than this. A writer of this much talent shouldn’t require magic to make her plots hold together.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Best-selling author Jodi Picoult's latest novel was an okay but not great read. It tells the tale of a missing person and the investigation into their whereabouts. Co-mingling with this mystery is an understory of elephant behavior, particularly how they grieve. The reader is treated to a fascinating and compelling overview of the elephant world. Unfortunately, the human side of the story wasn't nearly as gripping.

For starters, the author used the vantage points of four characters to tell the story. This is becoming increasingly popular across fiction genres, and while it works sometimes, it fails more often than not. Such is the case here. For one thing, just when the story gets going, the shift changes to a different character with a different plot strand. While it seems obvious that all these strands will eventually come together, it is hugely frustrating to have your flow interrupted so often. Over the final fifty pages or so, the shifts are so frequent that I was ready to stop reading, even as I was so close to the end. Sadly, this method of writing soured the taste I had enjoyed when I first began reading this novel. It seems like it was a contrivance to confound the reader and set up the ending. In short, it felt like a gimmick.

Jodi Picoult is clearly a beloved author and my tepid reaction merely underscores the differences we all have in taste and preference. She writes well enough, but there were some eye-rolling metaphors that popped up now and then, and unlike the books that I truly love, this one never seemed to offer me much more than a superficial pleasure. It lacked the depth of insight or character development that I was hoping for; those things that make me pause to reflect upon what I'd just read. To each his own I suppose, although my recommendation is only lukewarm. If you're a fan, you'll probably enjoy this. If you're unfamiliar, you might want to browse at a bookstore or library before purchasing. 3.5 stars.
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