by Gayle Forman
From the bestselling author of If I Stay and I Was Here comes a stunning new novel for Forman’s adult readers, an unflinching portrait of a woman confronting the joys and sorrows of marriage, motherhood and friendship. Meet Maribeth Klein, a harried working mother who is so busy taking care of her husband and twins that she doesn’t even realise, working late one evening, that she has had a heart attack.
Afterwards, 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. Far from the demands of family and career, and with the help of new friendships, she is finally able to own up to the secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.
With bighearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing the fears we are all running from. Gayle Forman has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head on and asks, what happens when a grown woman runs away from home?
THIS IS A BOOK YOU’VE NEVER READ BEFORE EVERYONE.
A lot of books focus on characters whose father or mother has left them. We normally view them as the enemy, selfish and weak but it’s refreshing to read a book which focuses on the other side of things.
Maribeth is an adopted daughter, wife, mother of two goods and a magazine editor. You’d think she has everything in life but when she suddenly suffers from a heart attack, she realises she wants more in life. I did really sympathise with her situation – looking after two kids, balancing it with a demanding career, also taking care of the home – she has no rest. The book discusses how a working mother must rediscover her identity and how sometimes, leaving your life is the only way to do that.
It was really upsetting to read about Maribeth’s experiences after having a heart attack. Her children aren’t very sympathetic, her husband didn’t seem so understanding and her whole situation in general treated her like a burden rather than a sick person who needs help. If I were her, I would’ve definitely left as well. She moves to Pittsburgh, leaving her identity and bringing a whole load of cash. There she befriend two boisterous university students, Todd and Sunita, a doctor, Stephen and Janice, someone who helps her find her biological mother. All of them contribute to Maribeth’s journey to find her identity and discover her real past.
I love Maribeth’s complex character. She talks about how she was never interested in finding her biological mother, how much she loves her children and about her friendship with Elizabeth. This book is all about contemplation. Maribeth contemplates about her complicated relationship with her husband, when she conceived her children, the first time her and Elizabeth met. This contemplation is key to her rediscovering who she is. Hanging out with Todd and Sunita and her very brief romance with Stephen, helps her rediscover her witty humour, love for cooking and love for reading. It’s a very understanding novel, looking at the pressure women feel in society and their need for freedom. She needed to break the ties she had in her old life to make them stronger because WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU MAKES YOU STRONGER *breaks out in song*.
In terms of story line, it’s very simple. Maribeth moves to Pitsburgh, befriends people whilst finding her biological mother. There’s not a lot of action but it still manages to discuss complex ideas of family, motherhood, being a women and love. The action is replaces with commentary and Maribeth’s reflection. At the beginning, the book is quite slow, dealing with her heart attack but as it progresses and more is revealed, I became drawn to the book, wanting to know more. Maribeth develops as a character, letting go of past beliefs and embracing life.
It’s a book you’ll enjoy reading! It comments on the role of women in society and how dynamic one’s identity can be.