Rach and I read the new Jodi Picoult book, Leaving Time and discussed our feelings over e-mail. Warning: our discussion contains MAJOR spoilers:
Julz: OK, what the hell is up with the M. Night Shymalan Sixth Sense twist ending? THEY WERE ALL DEAD. Everyone who mattered in the mystery were ghosts or spirits or whatever and none of them realized they were dead. I felt a little cheated. Did you have any inkling it was going to turn out that way? Me, I don’t try to predict or think ahead too much. I just get lost in the moment while I’m reading.
Rach: I know, right?!?! I was pretty peeved near the end of the book. It almost seemed like she said “Ok, Jenna is dead – who is every single person that needs to also be dead for this to work? Oh EVERYONE? Alrighty then – full speed ahead”. Something seemed off to me the entire story, but that’s not uncommon for Jodi since she always has that unexpected twist to finish off her books. The moments that triggered my doubt: Grace’s mom and the weeping walls, Jenna’s ability to make it all the way to Nashville unnoticed (was the little boy she ‘played’ hide and seek with dead too? Or just able to see her – and then does that mean the mom was dead as well? How did she drive a truck? Oh this novel is giving me a headache….), and how she found Gideon so easily. But no matter the doubt, I never saw the entire mess coming at me.
Julz: I think that means the kid was alive but could see Jenna. Once she did find Gideon (conveniently), was he driving her around in a spirit truck? And if he realized who she was and wanted to get in touch with her, why didn’t he just disapparate to New Hampshire to explain things to her. And the poltergeist thing, just STRANGE.
Rach: Great point about Gideon. I’m surprised he didn’t seek out Alice just as Jenna was.
Julz: I found it strange that Jenna would “grow up.” She was killed when she was three, why would she be a teenager now and spending the afterlife going to Junior High?
Rach: I also thought this was strange – but I tied it back to how Serenity stated that people don’t show up how they were when they died, but how they want to be remembered. Now, after thinking about it further, if she didn’t know she was dead – how did she get to chose how she shows up to the living? Did her grandmother know they were dead? So many people (ghosts? spirits?) interacted with Jenna and Virgil…It’s almost like a movie you want to go back and revisit to see if you can pick up on all the clues dropped throughout the story.
I had to chuckle though – thinking back to Serenity looking like a total nut job with her pink hair talking to herself the entire novel.
Julz: Maybe grandma stayed behind to help Jenna transition over once she came to terms with what happened. That’s why she was such a bitch about talking about Alice. She couldn’t be bothered to worry about the living when she had her granddaughter’s “soul” to worry about.
Rach: I completely agree with you, it would make sense considering how completely cut off grandma was. I just figured she was just poor at grieving and stuck in her own depression about losing her daughter.
What were your thoughts on the relationships between everyone at the elephant sanctuary?
Julz: Well I certainly thought Thomas was crazy-pants, but his mission was noble. I really think Alice had no one but herself to blame for so hastily marrying a man she barely knew and sacrificing her own research. As for the rest of the folks, when you live and work that closely together 24/7, there’s bound to be some tension. If Alice had just kept her legs closed though, none of this would have happened!
Many reviewers thought this was just a platform for Jodi to discuss the plight of elephants. I enjoyed it, more than I did the wolves in Lone Wolf. What are your thoughts?
Rach: This was actually my favorite part of the book, and why it received 4 stars from me. I would have dropped it lower had I not been completely fascinated by all the facts and lives of the elephants. I’m tempted to learn more about them because of it. And I want to learn how to make a tiny origami elephant.
Julz: I appreciated that the elephants had distinct personalities. They seemed to convey emotion more than any of the humans, that’s for sure.
Rach: I was also surprised at my lack of connection with any one character. I usually fall head over heels for at least one Jodi character and get emotionally invested. In this case, I felt more for Maura the elephant than any one person.
Julz: I liked Serenity most, because she was so unapologetic about her whole shtick. But no, I didn’t feel emotionally vested in anyone in particular, either. Despite a few frustrations and the absurd ending, it was still a compelling novel.