There Could Be A Few Too Many Questions Left Unanswered By "Leave Me"

Title:  Leave Me 
Author:  Gayle Foreman
Review Format: eARC
Length:  352 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Rating:  3 Stars

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.  Goodreads

My Thoughts
Gayle Foreman's newest Adult Fiction offering, entitled Leave Me is a very emotionally provocative tale. To say the least. The story of Maribeth Klein.  Leave Me gives insight to the negative side of today's "Superwoman " approach to life.
The belief that as women, we not only can, but should, tend the children, organize the house, work outside the home, and answer to the needs of the husband...all in short order.

Such seems the fate of our leading lady. Mother of two, editor of a magazine, wife to...Jason, bread winner, and slayer of dragons both large and small.

Until...her heart attack.
A heart attack that she ignores, because she is so busy being all of the things to all of the people who claim to love her.
A heart attack that goes unnoticed by all of the people who claim to love her. Because she is so busy being all of the things that they need her to be.

A heart attack that causes Maribeth to take a step back from the life, love, and expectations of her present existence. Opting instead, for a road less travelled. 

A road that begins on the day that she...decides to...STOP!

It takes a great deal of a great many things to make a person decide to walk away from anything. This is never more true than when the thing that you are leaving, is the family that you chose to create.
Especially if you are the female, wife, mother, workhorse, doormat, etc.

But that, for better, worse, and an eventful few months in Pittsburgh, is what Maribeth does.
Taking her readers right along with her.

From word one, there will be those who will not agree with Maribeth's decision to leave. There will be those who will champion her decision, and there will be those curious souls who just come along for the ride. Simply to know where the car is going.

For both Maribeth and the reader by extension. The time that she spends away from her world gives her a chance to become a person. To concentrate on who she is, what she wants, and to realize that the world that she left has not ceased to spin simply because it no longer rests squarely on her wary shoulders.

Surprisingly enough, it is her husband, and his total lack of interest in his wife's whereabouts; that drives this point home.

But while her husband may not be paying attention to her. There is an entire secondary cast in Pittsburgh; who do nothing else.
Admittedly, a large portion of Maribeth's time in Pittsburgh has the feeling of page filler. Until she meets the charming and quirky Dr. Grant.
As is often the case when 'finding oneself'. Maribeth really starts to bloom as her relationship with the doctor changes. Weird, considering the fact that she is married. There is also a relationship that comes about as a result of her search for her birth parents. This friendship of sorts, though poignant, seems more page filler/segue to her way of coping with the absence of her children in her life. (An absence which, while extremely poetic. Makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.)

The most readable and organic of Maribeth's 'new road relationships, is the one that she forms with her upstairs neighbors, Sunita and Todd. This is the one instance within the book, when Maribeth is the most free.

And now...the end.

Not the end of the book... by far! Just the end of progression.
Or rather, Maribeth's interaction with him after months of radio silence.
And then we come to the part of the book where the sappy music starts to play, all the hurts, justifications, and evils of the past become moot points, and Jason and Maribeth start to relate. Oh boy, you should be able to suss out the tearful reunion from here. Give or take another death defying experience or two.

This is the point at which the stars in this book's rating start dropping faster than the temperature in the middle of a a Chicago winter.
While the ending is very commercially appealing and romantic from a HEA standpoint. It leaves things with Maribeth's growth as a person and her life in Pittsburgh, sadly unfinished...and a great many readers unfulfilled.

About Gayle
Gayle FormanOnce upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a journalist who specialized in reporting on young people and social-justice issues. Which is a fancy way of saying I reported on all the ways that young people get treated like crap—and overcome! I started out working for Seventeen magazine, writing the kinds of articles that people (i.e. adults) never believe that Seventeen ran (on everything from child soldiers in Sierra Leone to migrant teen farm workers in the U.S.). Later on, I became a freelance journalist, writing for magazines like Details, Jane, Glamour, The Nation, Elle, Budget Travel, and Cosmopolitan.

In 2002, I went traveling for a year around the world with my husband, Nick. I spent time hanging out with some pretty interesting people, a third sex (we’d probably call them transvestites here) in Tonga, Tolkien-obsessed, role-playing punks in Kazakhstan (bonus points to those of you who can find Kazakhstan on a map), working class hip-hop stars in Tanzania. The result of that year was my first book, a travel memoir called You Can’t Get There From Here: A Year On the Fringes of a Shrinking World. You can read about my trip and see pictures of it here.

What do you do when you get back home after traveling the globe for a whole year? First, you get disproportionately excited by the little comforts in life: Not having to look at a map to get everywhere? Yay! Being able to drink coffee without getting dressed and schlepping to a café first? Bliss! Then, if you’re 32 years old and have been with your husband for evah, you have a kid. Which we did. Presto, Willa!

So, there I was. With a baby. And all of a sudden I couldn’t do the kind of gallivanty reporting I’d done before. Well, you know how they say in life when one door closes another opens? In my case, the door came clear off the frame. Because I discovered that I could take the most amazing journeys of my life without ever having to leave my desk. It was all in my head. In stories I could make up. And the people I wanted to take these fantastical journeys with, they all happened to be between the ages of 12 and 20. I don’t know why. These are just the people who beckon me. And I go where I’m told.

My first young-adult novel, Sisters in Sanity, was based on another one of those social justice articles I wrote when for Seventeen and you can click here to read the article. Sisters was published in 2007. My next book, If I Stay, was published in April of 2009 by Dutton. It is also being published in 30 countries around the world, which is surreal. The sequel/companion book to If I Stay, Where She Went, comes out in April 2011. I am currently working on a new YA novel, that is, when my kids (plural, after Willa we adopted Denbele from Ethiopia) allow me to. And after that book is finished, I’ll write another, and another….

Wow. This is crazy long. I suppose the short version of this bio could simply read: My name is Gayle Forman and I love to write young-adult novels. Because I do. So thank you for reading them. Because without you, it’d just be me. And the voices in my head.

Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in such publications as Jane, Seventeen, Glamour, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine, to name just a few. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Find Her:  Goodreads / Facebook / Web / Twitter 

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