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.
The YA books by Gayle Forman that I’ve read are ones that I really enjoyed so when I had the chance to read her first adult novel, I was intrigued by the concept. Also a little worried. Maribeth seemed like a character in a completely different place in her life than I can even picture myself being in, so would that hurt my ability to relate to her?
Maribeth could be a very frustrating character but she’s one that I felt a lot of empathy for as well. Her life was very chaotic but as crazy as it got, it was easy to tell she loved her husband, kids, and her job. The inconveniences, the stress, it could all be dealt with and handled when they faced it together. I was worried that I would find her decision to just up and leave everything behind too selfish to even try to understand but instead I found myself thinking she was right. It was her only option. She probably could have tried to be more forceful with the adults in her life that were supposed to be helping her, made them see they were adding to the stress she was supposed to avoid, but they also shouldn’t have had to be told.
I loved the cast of characters Maribeth met in Pittsburgh. The doctor she found, the two college students living in her apartment building, the lady she connected with while searching for her birth mother. They all added something to her life that she needed. They also added a lot of laugh out loud moments, a lot of moments to put a smile on my face, and plenty of moments to put tears in my eyes.
The plot was pushed forward by Maribeth’s growth and development. She was prone to selfish and petty decisions but she grew as a person as she realized it. It was her story of thinking she knew who she was and coming to find that she truly didn’t. Maybe if she had had an honest, harsh talk with her husband and her mother when she was stressed and overwhelmed, all of it could have been avoided. Maybe it just would have made things worse. Maybe it would have gotten better for a little while and then went right back to the way things were. There was really no way of knowing. What felt right for Maribeth was to leave so she could heal and I could understand her reasons.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.