September 06, 2016
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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.
It was interesting how different life at home with Maribeth, her husband Jason and their twins Oscar and Liv felt while reading Leave Me compared to Mia's family in If I Stay. They seemed so much more . . . ordinary. Looking at it now, though, I think it's a great example of how this is an adult novel and it's more grown-up. Maribeth works at a celebrity lifestyle magazine and her husband works as a nonprofit music archivist, not exactly boring, suit and tie jobs.
That feeling of things being less free spirit-y comes from the focus being on the adults, on Maribeth and the reality of all she has to do to keep her family going - not how her kids see it, or her husband or how she pretends it is, but how it really can be.
I don't think you have to be any of those women mentioned in the beginning of the description - or a woman, at all, to enjoy Leave Me. Readers really can see and understand why Maribeth feels she isn't getting the assistance or understanding she should (or that she needs). You may not agree with her decision to leave but but for her it seems to make some sense.
A little more than half way through the book I did get a bit irritated with Maribeth. Her reasoning and her reactions to things started seeming more selfish and immature (which I can't manage to explain better without getting spoilery).
Still I liked the people, activities and truths she discovered in her 'new' life. You don't realize at the beginning of the story how much is there, just under the surface with Maribeth, with Jason, with Elizabeth and with their pasts. I still had some questions, mostly about the characters' futures, at the end of the book but I definitely felt like I knew Maribeth better and that she - and the others- were in a better place going forward.
(I want to give it more three and three quarter stars . . . )
digital copy received for review, from publisher, via NetGalley