Read: November 2016
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.
Looking at some of the 3 star reviews for this book on Goodreads, I feel like I’m in the minority since I really enjoyed reading this. I took in this story during a 15 hour period, with breaks for things like sleeping and showering and eating, and I think that helped me really get immersed in the story and the life of Maribeth Klein.
I related to this story so much. I know there are aspects that might not be realistic, but with myself being in the throes of motherhood to two very little kids who are amazing and loving, but who also have their moments of screaming and just not getting along with me or each other, it’s easy to imagine having that time away to reconnect with myself. It was also fitting that I read this book while on a weekend solo vacation – it made me miss my kids immensely and made me feel selfish for taking the time for myself, but also made me realize that moms also need time for themselves! So, though our circumstances were different, I felt like I really connected with Maribeth’s character and the rest that she needed. It also made me realize how much I needed to take care of myself, not only physically, but mentally. This book reminded me not only to slow life down, but to slow down my kids, too.
I also really enjoyed reading Maribeth’s search for her birth mother. I’m also adopted and whenever I go to the hospital for anything there’s always that section for the family medical history. Since I’m getting older I know that having that information would be so beneficial – Maribeth’s circumstances scared me a bit, since I have no idea of my family history, and it did make me just slightly curious about my birth mother, though I still have no desire to seek her out.
Anyway, I feel like I’ve been talking more about myself than the book! I hadn’t intended to read this book. I read Gayle’s last book and it was alright, but I wasn’t the biggest fan. I think what drew me into this was the fact that it was for adults and that it just resonated so much with me, being a mom. I will definitely be interested in reading more of her adult books after this! I loved Maribeth and even though I could never have done what she did, I respected her reasoning for doing it.
The only downside to this book is the fact that it’s written in extreme. As in, Maribeth is the working mom who does EVERYTHING. Her spouse is forgetful and doesn’t know the schedule and how things work, so she’s completely run down and stressed out all the time. It might be a cautionary tale for other moms to not do this, maybe talk to their husbands about their concerns and that they need help, to just freaking ASK for help. As a mom, I get that it’s really hard to ask for help, but I feel like it’s something you have to do before you do what Maribeth did. It’s one thing to long for a break, but I feel like in real relationships, a spouse or partner will give you that break. They’ll be able to take over and you won’t be totally bent out of shape because they’re doing it wrong, but instead thankful that they’re helping and then you can take the hour, or evening, or weekend, or week that you have to find yourself again and then peacefully jump back into life with your family having had that time for you. Maribeth’s life before leaving was so extreme and the leaving was so extreme that I feel like it’s definitely cemented in fiction and not real life. Maybe that’s just me thinking it, but like I said, with communication and a partner who knows their family, what Maribeth did in this book most likely wouldn’t take place.
That being said, I devoured this book and enjoyed every second. There’s a certain sense of romance, freedom, and heartbreak – as well as an amazing plethora of emotion that Maribeth had to go through, and it was really great to read her story.