Synopsis (From GoodReads):
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 have only read one other Gayle Forman book, If I Stay which, to be blunt, I didn't care for. Yet this book, the author's first adult novel, was wondrous. I think it's because I wasn't the target audience for If I Stay, but I could completely relate to Leave me.
The story is about a woman who is so busy taking care of her family that she doesn't realize she having a heart attack. While I have not had that particular thing happen to me, I did have breast cancer a few years ago. While I did get help with my kids from my friends, I still felt an intense pressure to pretend that everything was okay.
What I liked:
Maribeth is living the life she aspired to (sort of). She has the husband, the kids, and the career. But she also has tremendous responsibilities. It takes a lot to run a household and, despite the changing times, the majority of it still falls to Maribeth. Gayle Forman gets the details just right: the bills that need to get paid, the lessons the kids must attend, the playgroups and parent-to-parent relationships that take effort to maintain. It is a juggling act that is bound to fall apart when Maribeth becomes ill.
At first, I found Jason to be infuriating. He is completely clueless as he expects Meribeth to hurry up and quickly resume her hectic schedule. He doesn't seem to get that she just survived a terrible ordeal. I was expecting Jason to fall into the role of the scapegoat for the book. But the author didn't go the easy route. As the story progresses, Jason's character develops where I can see why Meribeth fell in love with him in the first place. It was a delightful turn that I didn't expect.
There are many wonderful characters in this book. The neighbors, Sunita and Todd offer a glimpse into how relatively easy young adulthood is compared with Maribeth's current life. Stephen is a doctor who has been through his own life-altering incident. There is also Janice, who is helping Maribeth look for her birth mother. Each character is well-developed and I wound up caring about each of them.
What I Was Mixed About:
Although I think that Maribeth had to leave in order to heal herself, I think this could only happen in a book. It was very convenient for her to have a small inheritance to rely on so money wasn't an issue. This, however, was a very minor annoyance for me. I think she had to get away in order to sort out her life.
This was a wonderful book, full of winning characters.
Release Date: September 6th
Format: ARC E-book
Recommendation: This would make a perfect book club selection, especially for women who are mothers.