"Even when the rainbow seems to pass right by me....I'm still finding Gold in the clouds....."

16 February 2015

2015 Book Review #5: Leaving Time

Well, she's one of my very favorite authors and she's done it again!  Written a gripping tale with actual real research and thought-provoking storylines.  How I love her books!!


Jenna Metcalf, age 13, has always been thinking about her mother.  Yet, she hasn't seen her mother since she was 3 years old.  Alice (Jenna's mom) disappeared under mysterious circumstances after a tragic accident at the  New England Elephant Sanctuary in New Hampshire where she and her husband, Thomas Metcalf, lived and worked. She first met Thomas when she was working on her postdoctorate work in Africa, among the wild elephants.
 The other people on the compound include Nevvi, an older woman, her daughter Grace and Grace's husband, Gideon.  All of them work with the elephants until Grace commits suicide.  After that......things begin to spin out of control.

Jenna, being raised by her grandmother, refuses to believe that her mother abandoned her. Thomas is in a mental institution after a breakdown during the accident.  Jenna searches online for information and looks over her mother's old journals.  Alice was a scientist who studied grief among elephants, so the journals are mainly centered around her research......and the animals that she loved. Jenna is hoping that the journals will give her some clues to what happened to her mom.

She is desperate to find out the truth so she hires 2 very unlikely allies in her search:  a psychic named Serenity Jones who used to be famous for finding missing people, but now doubts her gifting, and the private detective who was one of the police officers at the sanctuary the night of the accident that left one person dead and one elephant accused of trampling the person.  His name is Virgil Stanhope and he would love to solve this 10 year old cold case.

The three of them work together to find answers about Alice and is so doing, they realize that in asking some hard questions, they will need to deal with some even harder answers.  As Jenna's memories coincide with what is found in the journals, the plot races to a very surprising finish.


I loved this book.  This book (based on reviews) is unlike any book she has written to date.  It's gripping and unusual.  As always, there are themes running in the plot.  The main one in this book happens to be the mother-daughter relationship...and the idea that those we can't forget, are never truly gone.
I learned so many awesome details about elephants in this book, too!
My youngest daughter loves (and collects stuffed and ceramic) elephants so I know she is going to read this, too and love it.  I learned that a mother and daughter elephant stay together their whole lives until one of them dies.  This is important to the story line.  The author's research about elephants took her to the real Elephant Sanctuary (located in Tennessee) and to Botswana, Africa to observe the elephants and talk to experts in the field.  
She ended up using this elephant knowledge as a metaphor for the story of Jenna and Alice.

I learned that the relationships of elephants to each other and to humans last a lifetime.  I learned that they do have good memories and that they have elaborate rituals of grief...very much like humans do.

What I didn't like about the book was the use of a psychic because as a Christian I don't believe in all of that. Yet, I do believe that there is a spirit world...and that many of the things that Serenity experienced could happen.  We know there are spirits....both good and bad.  I just didn't care for the whole psychic, future telling thing.  But...it's fiction and it's GOOD fiction and it definitely makes the story charge ahead.  The ending was a complete surprise to me and I love that!!

I could say so much more but I don't want this to be long and I don't want to ruin it for you. 

One thing I also really liked were the author's notes at the end and the information she gave about the real Elephant Sanctuary in the USA as well as elephant facts.  She also has some extensive information on her website.  This was one of my favorite books by her so far and I have read them all.  She made me fall in love with elephants.

In my opinion, this book is appropriate for ages 14 and older.

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, I rate this a 10.


Deb said...

Thanks for the review. I will have to get this one!

Susanne said...

I have yet to read one of her books! I'll have to just make a point of it. Or maybe I'll have to read her as the book a friend recommends on my reading challenge, that friend being you.

Faith said...

Susanne, all of her novels are great! I will email you the list.

Melanie said...

I've not read any of this author's books. This book sounds very interesting. Thanks for the review. Have a great day.