I am a big Picoult fan. Always have been. I love the way that she weaves her tales, the depth and diversity of her characters and the intensity of her themes. I love the fact that her books are all so radically different yet so clearly ring with her unique voice.
I’m not quite sure how to even talk about this book. In some ways it was quite confronting – these lonely, fraught characters, all searching for something illusive. A mother, a daughter, a grandmother and elephants who despite their regal stoicism behave with more emotion and conviction than some of the people around them.
My heart went out to Jenna, the daughter, desperate to find her mother. I ached for her loneliness, and for the fragility and angst of the two unlikely characters she chooses to help her in her quest; Serenity Jones, a psychic, and Virgil Stanhope, an alcoholic Private Detective. And I felt for Alice, Jenna’s mother, whose life slowly unravels driving her to escape. The essence of all Picoult’s books is always people and their relationships and this book is no different:
“If you are a mother, you must have someone to take care of.
If that someone is taken from you, whether it is a newborn or an individual old enough to have offspring of its own, can you still call yourself a mother?
Staring at Kagiso, I realized that she hadn’t just lost her calf. She had lost herself. And although I had studied elephant grief for a living, although I had seen numerous deaths in the wild before and had recorded them dispassionately, the way an observer should – now, I broke down and started to cry.
Nature is a cruel bitch. …”
Underlying these human relationships is a web of complex emotions:
“‘I think grief is like a really ugly couch. It never goes away. You can decorate around it; you can slap a doily on top of it; you can push it to the corner of the room – but eventually, you learn to live with it.’
Somehow, I thought, elephants had taken it a step further. They didn’t grimace every time they entered the room and saw that couch. They said, Remember how many good memories we had here? And they sat, for just a little while, before moving elsewhere.”
I feel as though I can’t say much more without really destroying this book for those who choose to read it. So read it. You won’t be disappointed.