Wednesday, 24 June 2015

My First Introduction to Jodi Picoult: Leaving Time

I am not what you'd call a big consumer, and most of the time I completely ignore advertising. But there was a poster on the subway promoting Jodi Picoult's latest book, Leaving Time, and it sounded interesting. I'd heard her name before but hadn't read any of her books. So when I stumbled across the book at the library, I checked it out without even reading the blurb on the cover.

Wow. I had no idea what I was getting into. I won't give any spoilers, but it was a powerful story, well written, and I totally didn't see the ending coming. A bit of foul language in it, but it suited the character, and Ms Picoult drew me into the plot to the point where I forgot I was reading and felt I was there. I will definitely read more of her work. It isn't often an author can pull me in like that. Usually I'm too busy picking apart the writing or distracted by the inconsistencies to really immerse myself in the story, but this time was different. I'm glad to have discovered a new author, especially one who has written 20+ books, so I won't have to wait around hoping for the next one to come out all the time. And she mentioned Mormons or Salt Lake City at least four times during the book, just casually dropped into the narrative, which I found curious and intriguing.

I will tell you one of the themes of the book was how elephants grieve. I think the images she painted will haunt me for a long time. The most poignant thing, though, was in the afterword, where she noted that 38,000 African elephants are slaughtered every year, and at that rate they will entirely vanish from the continent within 20 years. And I am horrified. My first thought was, "I have to call my sister the biologist." And my second thought was "My grandchildren won't get to see these magnificent animals." And my next thought was "We as a race have so much to answer for." The pain we have caused, the life we have taken, the suffering animals have endured at our hands. I want to apologize to nature for what we've ruined. The things we have done to the innocents. And I want to cry out with Enoch, "When will the earth rest?"

I only had a few pages left of the book when my bus arrived at my stop, so I got off the bus and sat right down in the sweltering bus shelter and finished it then and there. And wanted to weep all the walk home. When a book can do that to you, you know you have found a profound truth and a talented writer.

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