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Jenna Metcalf was five when her mother disappeared without a trace. She was a scientist working in an elephant sanctuary, specialised in the study of the behaviour of elephants in the face of grief. A woman from the sanctuary was found dead that day, apparently trampled by an elephant, and Alice, Jenna’s mother, was lying unconscious not far from there. She was brought to the hospital, and vanished a couple of days later. Jenna’s father is ill, and residing in a mental institution ever since the tragedy. Jenna lives with her grandmother but has never given up on the idea of finding her mother.

Jenna has convinced a psychic, Serenity, and Virgil, a former police detective who has never forgotten this unsolved cold case, to help her. The psychic has lost the ability to communicate with the dead seven years ago, and Virgil’s only acquaintances since quitting the police are his landlady and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. However, this improbable association of three desperate people might just be what is needed to shed new light on a trail gone cold…

Leaving Time is a very suspenseful novel told by the points of view of Virgil, Jenna, Alice and Serenity. Although I was afraid that information about elephants would be boring it never is, it is on the contrary quite interesting to learn how elephants can be similar to human beings when it comes to grieving or caring for their offspring. Although the twist in the story has been used before, it is a credit to Jodi Picoult’s skills as an author that I haven’t seen it coming and was surprised by the ending.

Leaving Time, exploring the bond between mother and child, is one of Jodi Picoult’s best novels, along with My Sister Keeper’s, Nineteen Minutes or Second Glance, my personal favourite.