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398 pages, Hardcover
First published October 14, 2014
“I started to write Leaving Time when I was in the process of becoming an empty-nester. My daughter Sammy was headed off to school. I was thinking a lot of how we humans raise our kids to be self sufficient enough to leave us – and how depressing it was for those who were left behind. That theme – of what happens to the people who are left behind – became what I wanted to write about. Then, I was reading something and learned that in the wild, an elephant mother and daughter stay together their whole lives until one of them dies. Given my frame of mind, it seemed so much more pleasant to do things the way elephants do. I began to dig a bit more about elephants, and their reaction to death, and what I uncovered became a metaphor for the novel.”I should note that I have never been an “elephant person”. I tend to avoid that particular smelly, fly-invested area of the zoo, and rarely venture over for the demonstrations. You have to admit, the elephants typically look bored and unhappy. Well, guess what? They are bored and unhappy! Their body language speaks volumes. Ms. Picoult promises on her website that once you read Leaving Time, you’re never going to think about elephants quite the same way. This was certainly true for me. I now have a new appreciation for this incredibly complex and empathetic animal. They exhibit life-long bonds and debilitating grief, causing their impressive memory to be both a blessing and a curse. Whether they are being held in captivity or being hunted by poachers in the wild, these beautiful creatures just can't seem to win. But thanks to the awareness Ms. Picoult brings to her readers, I'm glad to say hope remains.