Published by: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: September 6th 2016
Pages- 352 pages
Format- eGalley (Netgalley)
Rating: ★★★ (3.5)
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.
I’d like to thank Algonquin Books for approving me to receive an eGalley of Leave Me by Gayle Forman via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Maribeth Klein used to have big dreams of one day climbing the ladder to success in the world of magazine publishing. She had a bestfriend/roommate & they were as inseparable as Thelma & Louise. Both Maribeth & Elizabeth worked for the same magazine, they shared the same career dreams and were on the fast track to making them come true. Then Maribeth married her college sweetheart, the guy who 10 years’ prior had decided to move to San Francisco & persue his career. They had made plans for a life together in New York & he ditched them. This unexplainable break-up would stay with & follow her to NY 10 years later. Maribeth & Jason re-connect in NY and one things leads to another. They get married and have twins, life gets a bit challenging but Maribeth takes it all on with little to no help from her husband. Her relationship with Elizabeth has changed, she is now her boss and Maribeth is just trying to maintain both home & career. The book opens up to Maribeth having a heart attack in a period of 48 hours. I had mentioned in my Monday Musings this week that I found this interesting because the percentage of women who are asymptomatic while experiencing a heart attack is startlingly high. It was very realistic to see a working mom overwhelmed by life’s many stresses.
I requested this eGalley because I thought to myself…harrowed mother of twins experiences a heart attack & isn’t able to recuperate w/out her family making her feel like she’s a huge inconvenience…this could very well be me. What happens when you’re everything to everybody & then one day you’re not physically able to fulfill that role…will they notice your absence? will they reciprocate all of the love, care, and attention you’ve invested in them? I’ll be honest, while reading Maribeth’s story I was split in two halves. One part of me was angry at her husband Jason for not stepping up to the plate to take over the reins with the kids. The second half, not at the fact that she chose to pack up & leave but rather, that it was for such an extended period of time & another issue I can’t mention because *spoilers*.
Ever read a book & just reject every single character & their story from the minute you meet them? such was the case with Leave Me. I wasn’t a huge fan of the passively aggressive Maribeth OR the sub-par husband Jason. I also wasn’t keen on her best friend Elizabeth for that matter. It took the last 100 pages for Maribeth & crew to win me over (wish it hadn’t taken this long) & make me understand that this was her journey. Sometimes it’s the road less traveled that we must take. To take care of others (especially little ones), we must first take care of ourselves. Maribeth leaves her home in need of respite & recuperation from bypass surgery post heart attack but gets so much more than what she left to obtain. Truly unhappy in her life she at some point lost herself in the day to day cycle. Maribeth is also a woman with tons of unresolved issues. She is adopted & her heart attack has managed to stir up a need to dig in to her origins. Her journey was of mind, body, and soul. During her time away she made some friendships & it was these supporting characters that lifted her up & helped her find her way. I absolutely loved the age disparity between Maribeth & her new neighbors (in her new home away from home) Todd & Sunita. Todd is a gay young man who is obsessed with all things Steelers. Todd has been entrusted by Sunita’s parents to room with & look over her. Sunita is a young college aged Indian woman who is very high spirited & able to keep up with Todd’s quip’s. Along the way, Maribeth also befriends Janice who played a crucial role in her journey. There is one other character that Maribeth meets, Stephen…a doctor with a mysterious past. I appreciated the end results of this relationship however, I was not in agreement with certain happenings 😉
Photo from Theharriedmom
In conclusion (lengthiest review yet lol), I think every mother has had the fleeting notion of liberating themselves. We are human & the ultimate sacrifice we make is when we decide to have children. Life will throw many curve balls your way & with age come health issues. We can either meet these challenges OR retreat & replenish until we can build up the strength needed to meet such challenges. Although I don’t see myself taking Maribeth’s road, I do believe that we all need a bit of space so as to not lose ourselves. If there is a partner at home, a little appreciation goes a long way. Similarly, all relationships need to be watered to grow. I closed this book feeling like Gayle Forman sneak attacked me in the heart…