To research her latest novel, Jodi Picoult â87 travelled to the savannahs of Botswana, studied elephants at a sanctuary in Tennessee, and consulted a psychic. The result is Leaving Time, about a young girlâs search for her mother. Jenna Metcalf is determined to solve the mysterious, decade-old disappearance of her mother, Alice, a young scientist who studied how elephants express grief in Botswana and at a New Hampshire elephant sanctuary. Jenna enlists the help of a disgraced psychic and a jaded private detective, and pores over Aliceâs journals to assemble a portrait of her motherâs life.
The novel weaves together several voices to create a fast-paced narrative that is part crime story, part family drama, and it races to an unexpected finish. Aliceâs journals take the reader into her research on elephant grief, as she lives among and observes her subjects. Alice carefully records, and finds herself responding to, the elephantsâ behavior as they experience motherhood, loss, and crumbling family structures. Picoult (featured in PAW on Jan. 18, 2012) is the bestselling author of 23 novels, including My Sisterâs Keeper, which was made into a film. She will be reading from Leaving Time at Rockleigh Country Club in Northvale, NJ, on Oct. 19.