Jodi Picoult is an author that I always gravitated towards when I was younger. You always knew that her storylines would have you gripped, with each chapter left on a ‘cliffhanger’ to push you storming through to find out what happens as quickly as possible. I haven’t read a Picoult book for years but this one felt like a graduation from her older books with a move away from her formulaic court room setting/moral dilemma and seemed slightly different from her previous work but just as interesting and well written.
Thirteen year old Jenna is unlike other teenagers; wise beyond her years she is set on finding out what happened to her Mum who disappeared from her life when she was just three years old. A renowned scientist, Jenna’s Mum (Alice) had spent her life researching elephants in their natural habitat and how they experience grief. After a tragic accident at the sanctuary which sees one of the workers trampled by an elephant – Alice disappears from the scene, leaving her young daughter behind. Jenna just cannot accept that her own Mother would abandon her and is determined to find out what really happened all those years ago.
With Jenna’s Father in an asylum and her Grandmother unwilling to talk about what happened to her Mother, it is up to Jenna to find out what really happened. She recruits the help of Virgil Stanhope, an ex policeman and a renowned celebrity psychic Serenity – two hapless sidekicks who assist Jenna in her mission in very different ways. The book switches perspective with each chapter and we are given an insight into several different character’s views of the events.
I love that the elephant theme is continually woven into the story ; the elephants are given such significance in the main characters relationships (often more so than humans) which adds an interesting dynamic to the story. You can tell that Picoult has really spent time doing her research and it shows in how much detail is included.
I sped through this book; I enjoyed reading it and genuinely wanted to know what had happened to Jenna’s Mother. Jenna is a likeable and believable character and you end up rooting for her and wanting her to find the answers she so desperately craves. The ending is unexpected and is a great twist which makes you re-evaluate everything you have read – I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I would choose another Picoult book again.