I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.Leave Me by Gayle Forman
on September 6th 2016
Also by this author: If I Stay, Where She Went, Just One Day, Just One Year, Just One Night
(343 pages) • Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble
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 wasn’t sure what to think when I saw that Gayle Forman was coming out with an adult-oriented contemporary novel. I’ve liked or loved all of her books so far and I personally have been reading more adult books lately instead of YA, so this was a welcome development for me. I had a feeling that she would knock it out of the park. She has a very sophisticated but natural writing style that I figured would lend itself very well to adult fiction as well.
Summary in a Second
After suffering from a heart attack, Maribeth is so overwhelmed and stressed. She’s trying to get her family up to speed as her husband barely helps, her mom comes in and offers a bizarre style of help, and her kids act like the four-year-olds that they are. One day she just up and leaves. She hides her identity, doesn’t bring a computer or cell phone, and gets an apartment elsewhere. Just like that. Of course, I don’t agree that this is the right move but it’s not hard to see where she’s coming from. Based on her home life at that time, they didn’t deserve her help. It’s really so typical to see a woman that undervalued in her home; she was somehow expected to keep everything going after a serious medical issue. I just couldn’t understand Jason’s thought process.
Forman did a great job of making you feel for Maribeth and understand her actions even though abandoning your family at the drop of a hat isn’t the best move. I loved watching Maribeth find her way on her own and settle into certain routines. The book really just follows her on this journey.
Storytelling & Setting
I was definitely right about Forman’s foray into adult fiction. She has a total knack for it! I felt like I was reading a Gayle Forman book even though the content and age ranges were much different than her other stories. Seriously, it is so easy to get swept up in her writing style. SO EASY. I found myself reading the bulk of the book in one sitting because I just couldn’t stop. This wasn’t because it was a super plot-driven story or anything; it was just because of the flow of her writing. I was so curious to see how her story would end. Every small event that happened would make me wonder when something would click in her head and she’d decide what to do next.
I don’t know if it’s a spoiler to say where Maribeth ends up when she flees NYC, so I won’t say it, but I loved learning about that place. I’ve never been before but it sounds quainter than I expected.
About those Characters
I did really like Maribeth despite everything she may have done wrong. I was completely sympathetic to her situation and her story. Is having a heart attack really not enough to get your family to rally behind you and help out? I can’t blame her. I really can’t. She worked through a lot during the story and I did enjoy following her journey.
She made new friends in her “new life” and they were pretty fun. There’s really not much to say about the side characters – even her family members. They were the main reason she left but also the reason I assumed she would eventually come back. I wish they paid more attention or understood just how much she did for them.
All the Feels
Some early parts of the story hit me harder than expected. I wasn’t super emotional throughout, but I was left with mixed feelings. I’ve repeated my thoughts on her decision multiple times throughout the review so you know my hang-up. I was generally emotionally invested in what would happen to Maribeth, but there weren’t a lot of moments that hit me in the feels.
So, What’s the Problem?
Although I can’t really think of any major problems with the story, it’s hard to give it a higher rating for some reason. There weren’t many actual plot points to go by and I think some parts felt rushed. There was a nice setup at the beginning of the story because you really could understand – just within a handful of chapters – why Maribeth needed/wanted to leave her family. More issues will be discussed in spoiler tags for the ending below.
About that Ending
I was really invested in the outcome of this story, which is certainly saying something. So many different things could happen at the end! Would she stay in her new life and leave her family behind somehow? Would she return home as if nothing happened? Would Jason forgive her? Would she leave him but come back to her kids? SO many possibilities honestly. I had a feeling I knew what would happen though. Some spoilers about the ending and issues I had: View Spoiler »I can’t get over how quickly Jason essentially accepted her back into his life. Before she even came home and they were chatting by email, it seemed like he understood why she left and wasn’t hurt. It just didn’t seem realistic at all. And the fact that he hadn’t even emailed her at all? I get that she asked for space but damn I would have at least been like “hey, got your note, uhhhh what the hell?!” That’s crazy to me. « Hide Spoiler
I think Gayle Forman’s writing and storytelling ability really shone through and that’s what I liked the most. The plot was interesting in a general sense. Everyone wonders what would happen if they could just leave their current life for some amount of time. I wish more happened plot-wise and I had some issues with the ending, but I would overall strongly recommend this story. I’m a huge fan of Emily’s review too; she summarizes my feelings almost perfectly.
Quick & Dirty
Describe it in a word: fascinating?
Recommended for readers who: love Gayle Forman and are open to adult fiction
Drink this beverage with it: wine
Recommended overall? absolutely
Thoughts in a Gif
|Plot & Premise|
|Pacing & Flow|
|Feels or Swoons|