Review Blog

Nov 14 2016

Leave me by Gayle Forman

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Simon and Schuster, 2016. ISBN 9781471156786
(Age: Adult) Themes: Identity; Family; Responsibility; Illness; Stress; Adoption. Adult Novel. Every working woman who also bears the burdens of family life will resonate with the emotional struggles of the central character in this story for adult readers. Maribeth is a 44-year-old juggling many things - stressful career in an industry with unforgiving deadlines; two dearly loved twin pre-schoolers and their busy schedules; finding time for intimacy with a husband she loves; negotiating friendship changes and the busyness of life in a big city. This juggling act falls apart completely when she experiences a heart attack and a subsequent bypass. Suddenly her world freefalls into unfamiliar territory and her sense of self and her emotional needs cartwheel into places that she is unprepared for and unwilling to address. So she leaves! With no warning, and little thought for those around her, she transplants her life into a different city, reconstructing herself little by little as she explores her history and her reason for being. With no identity, she manufactures something from nothing and connects to people around her who slowly help her to rebuild her sense of self and allow her to uncover the secrets that she has wound tightly under her new façade. As an adopted child, the story also weaves her search for her biological history into her search for identity and emotional security.
Although there would be few people who would consider Maribeth's abandonment of her family as a solution to their problems, the mid-life emotional journey that she travels as a mature working mother and career woman is certainly a 21st Century voyage into the complications of stress, achievement, desire and responsibility. I am past her stage of life, but I certainly felt and remembered some of her angst as she attempted to keep everyone and everything afloat around her, while feeling that she was drowning under the weight of it all. Maribeth's reinvention of herself, was perhaps necessary as she dealt with her own mortality, the physical consequences of Heart surgery and the emotional trauma that created her selfish introspection. Not happy reading, but well written; and she doesn't drown, but there is hope as she learns to swim in a new and healthy way.
Carolyn Hull

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