- Written By: Jodi Picoult
- Published By: Ballantine Book, an imprint of Random House, October 14, 2014
- Length: 416 pages
- Source: Publisher in consideration of an honest review
Jenna Metcalf has been searching for her mother for almost all of her life. In the aftermath of a tragedy her mother Alice disappears. Her father is in a mental facility and is no help to her. She searches the internet and reads her mother’s journals, hoping that through her notes and observations she’ll find a clue to where her mother went. Alice studied elephant behavior, specifically their grief. How could a loving mother just leave her child.
Jenna seeks out help in the unlikeliest of places. First from a psychic, Serenity Jones, who is a fallen from grace former star in her area of expertise. Serenity was once sought out to help with missing persons and had her own TV show. Now she’s just got a shabby room in her apartment and she’s not as in touch with the spirits as she once was. Jenna’s second contact is a private detective, former police detective who worked on the case at the elephant preserve where there was a death, and her mom was found unconscious. Virgil recalls the way he was unsettled at the way his partner wrapped up Alice’s disappearance and the case. His help for Jenna is almost like repaying a debt.
Jodi Picoult has a gift for layering a story in such a way that the diverse voices and stories become one. The pages and characters urge you to go on, to keep reading and learning more.
The chapters tell us Jenna’s story in today’s timeline, and Alice’s in the time before her marriage to Jenna’s father, and how she fell in love with him. The chapters are also told from Virgil and Serenity’s point of view. We learn more about their pasts and how they too are searching for something too. The reader is taken into Alice’s research with the elephants in Africa and then in the reserve with troubled elephants who had been removed from zoos and circuses.
The in depth research Picoult has done is phenomenal. I was intrigued at the elephant behavior and the loving and nurturing habit of the mama elephants. While it could have been a dry and boring subject it was told in such a way that I was eager to read each of the sections where Alice was speaking.
The book began a little slow for me, perhaps I was distracted with other books I was reading at the same time. Once I was a third or so in I couldn’t put it down. I literally read most of this book in one late late or early morning finish. The story is captivating, and the signature Picoult twists are alive and well. This book feels intimate and personal and made me also feel I was seeing a very intimate love between mother and child. I highly recommend.