Book Review: Leave Me
By: Gayle Forman
Published by: Algonquin Books
Release date: September 9, 2016
Genre: adult contemporary
Source: galley kindly provided by publisher
If you have not yet experienced the glory that is a Gayle Forman book, you should remedy the situation immediately. Her latest offering, Leave Me, is her first of the adult variety, and is equally full of the aching yearning for a love nearly lost as her YA novels.
Maribeth is living the dream: married to the love of her life, two beautiful children, and a career that showcases her skills. After surviving a heart attack, the dream seems more like a nightmare; her husband soon returns to work, leaving her to deal with twin toddlers and her difficult mother, all while trying to recover from major surgery. Feeling like her only choice to make a full recovery is to remove herself from her own very busy life, Maribeth decides to walk away one day, traveling to a surprise destination to assume an anonymous identity to give herself room to breathe and heal.
I am a mom who has worked throughout my childrens’ lives. Bringing that perspective to this book, my initial reaction to Maribeth’s choice to leave her family behind was one of anger and blame. I was angry at her for not living up to her responsibilities, for not putting their needs before her own, for abandoning those she loves best. Then I remembered what flight attendants always tell you about those oxygen masks: you must take care of yourself in order to be capable of taking care of others. I was still in disagreement with how Maribeth chose to put on her own mask, but I was able to understand a little better why she chose what she did. Marriage and parenthood can leave a person feeling trapped, if that person stops seeing the reasons that lead to the choice to be there. Maribeth took herself out of the situation, which allowed her to decide whether or not she would choose it again.
Gayle Forman can make a reader’s vulnerabilities bubble to the surface, so that person feels almost as if they have experienced the novel first-hand. Her ability to read and convey human emotion, even sometimes without dialogue, is superb. I once again declare myself a fan who will read everything she puts on shelves.
International bestselling author Gayle Forman's trademark humor and insight abound in this masterful adult debut, showing us that sometimes you have to leave home in order to find it again.
For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack.
Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself.
With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on.