Review: Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Sunday, September 25, 2016
Title: Leave Me
Author: Gayle Forman
Genre: general fiction
Series: N/A
Pages: 343
Published: September 6 2016
Source: Book Expo America
Rating: 4/5

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.

Gayle Forman is a wonder. No matter if she is writing novels for teens or adults, her stories and her characters have a way of sinking into your heart. Her books are nuanced and thoughtful; careful explorations of many different kinds of lives and the people in them. Before, where she had tackled teenage growing pains, she now focuses on adult relationships and all their issues. It's a different stroke for an experienced writer, but like the pro she is, Forman handles the transition from YA to adult with aplomb. 

The strength of a Forman novel lies in first her characters and in then in their complicated, evolving relationships. From romantic to platonic to familial, she is an author that understands human nature and the bonds between people. There's a give and take to every relationship and Leave Me is the story of Maribeth stretching that tether for the first time in a long time. There's not a lot that I personally can relate to in the book from my own life and marriage -- I am not a middle aged mother of two -- but it's the talent of Forman that I found myself solidly in her shoes before 150 pages.

The ending of Leave Me may be a tad too easy and too happy to fit with the bittersweet honest nature of the story that preceded it. The sap in me was satisfied at the romance angle, but it was a little too neat for the mess of a life Maribeth had been leading upto the beginning of the novel. There was a definite sense of resolution for her and for the plot, but it wasn't a perfect fit; one of the few reasons this was not a full five star read for me. Still, I would definitely call Forman's first foray into adult lit a success.


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