J-Dubs Review of Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

“Where do I begin
To tell the story of how great a love can be
The sweet love story that is older than the sea”

Screeeech!!!!!!!! Halt.  Back up the bus.  This is not LOVE Story written by Erich Segal.  No Ali Mac Graw and Ryan O’Neal waiting in the wings of this novel.  Though I must say, this story is about LOVE.  And lust.  Relationships.  Motherhood.  Some revenge.  Oh and elephants.  Who can forget the elephants?  Not them … < see what I just did there? > An elephant NEVER forgets.  Haha! I slay me.

Modern day fiction reading as non-fiction right up until the twist at the end when we are left with highly implausible fiction.  But I will not spoil this for you … I never do.  Well … not since I completely ruined We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver for some poor unsuspecting soul who happened upon my Amazon review.  Shame J-Dub, shame on you.  Lesson learned.  Never summarize verbatim.

Now I just talk esoterically about how the book made me feel and I attempt to relate to my “real” life as opposed to “fake” life.  I sometime ramble and go off in tangents.  In the end I will let you know if I recommend the book or not.

The cast of characters in this missing persons case: Alice scientist/mother studies elephants, meets and marries Thomas scientist/father.   Has baby Jenna/Teenage Jenna.  Who now lives with her grandmother.  There is also Gideon and Grace (names I should have given to my two children).  Who work the elephant sanctuary with Alice, Thomas and Grace’s mom Nevvie.  Serenity Jones psychic and Virgil Stanhope cop turned PI.  And each elephant is named too but I cannot remember them all except for Maura and Hester.

Almost at the end we find out why the title Leaving Time was chosen.  Blink and you miss it.  Makes sense and works.  I try to pick my blog post titles that same way.

Let’s get to the heart of it, shall we? My sister-in-law Barb collected elephants and now she is gone too soon, damn cancer.  She was a good mother.  A very good mother despite all her humanly flaws.  This book is about motherhood (human and elephant) and grief (human and elephant).  I thought about Barb the entire time I was reading this book.  I was reminded to appreciate what I have; to take time to stop and smells the roses.

What I learned:

  1. Motherhood is hard.  Damn hard.  But in the elephant village of alltomothers, the load is lessened.  We should take a cue from the animals.
  2. Grief has no timeline.  Grief can make you do horrible things.
  3. I am glad they no longer give elephant rides at the San Antonio zoo.  I wish there were no zoos.  Sorry to all my zoo loving friends; my opinion only.
  4. No matter where I look, the topic of mental health is somehow brought into focus.
  5. People are flawed and you never really know anyone.
  6. Yet we get by with a little help from our friends.

And I will wrap up now.  Just a quote or two or … a gazillion (I wrote 3 pages of quotes after all).  I do that now, read and cite.  Jotting done nuggets of gold as I read has become a habit.  The following are some of what I extracted from the text as I read Leaving Time:

  1. The moral of the story is … a) sometimes you can attempt to make all the difference in the world, and it still is like trying to stem the tide with a sieve and b) no matter how much we try, no matter how much we want it … some stories just don’t have a happy ending.

  2. When you desperately want to believe something is true, you can convince yourself of anything.

  3. I think grief is like an ugly couch.  It never goes away.  You can decorate around it … eventually, you learn to live with it.

  4. Children are the anchors of a mother’s life ~ Sophocles, Phaedra, Fragments.

  5. A mother and daughter stay together until one of them dies.

  6. And I thought – not for the first time – that forgiving and forgetting aren’t mutually exclusive.

  7. People are always afraid of things they don’t understand so they dress them up in ways that are understandable.

Realistic, current humanistic themes with a touch of escapism; a pleasant way to spend my time.  Recommended read.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

As always, more to come.