Leave Me by Gayle Forman

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Leave Me will be published September 6, 2016 by Algonquin Books.

Leave Me is Gayle Forman’s debut adult fiction novel. I’ve read all of her YA novels and loved them very much, my favorite being I Was Here. As it turns out, she is just as awesome with adult fiction as she is with YA fiction. I absolutely loved the honesty and real-life aspect of this story. This could easily be my story, and the story of so many other working mothers of young children, who are trying to juggle so much with only so many hours in each day. Thank you, Gayle, for writing such a wonderful story.

Maribeth, 45, a working mother of 4 year old twins, is so busy taking care of her children, husband, and household, that she doesn’t even realize that she’s had a heart attack. After coming home from the hospital with strict orders to rest and recover, she finds herself unable to do either. It seems that her unfortunate health problem has become quite the interruption for her husband and children. So Maribeth packs a bag, leaves a note, and takes off alone in search of space to heal and to be herself. She is in such a state of stress, shock, and terror that she later doesn’t even remember what she wrote in the note she left for her husband, Jason. Another dimension added to the story is that Maribeth initiates a search for her birth mother, and as such, the story includes quite a bit of information and details regarding adoption.

It’s amazing how quickly Maribeth meets four very good friends in the short time that she is away from her former life. Janice, Stephen, Sunny, and Todd. All accept her for who she says she is (with very little details she provides), without question. She becomes reliant on them for various things, and I believe these friendships are what allowed her to take a step back and look at her life from a different perspective. Once she is on her own, she realizes that she is no longer making lists, planning things in advance, or keeping a schedule. She feels liberated – she is truly living and letting go.

But what does this say about her as a wife, and as a mother? Has she failed her family? She feels like her own birth mother, her best friend Elizabeth, and even her husband left her at some point. As the old adage goes, one can only truly accept love from others once he or she truly loves and accepts his or herself. She realizes, once the buzz of her crazy day-to-day life quiets down, that maybe no one ever really stopped believing in her or loving her – maybe she just has to keep believing in and loving herself.

I loved the ending, because it leaves the reader happy for Maribeth in anticipation of what is to come, without revealing all the minute details of the reunion.

This story really hit close to home with me, because am very similar to Maribeth in ways. I’m a full time working mother of two little boys, as well. I am also a planner, list maker, and juggler of many things. One passage that really stuck with me and resonates still is the following:

“A year ago, so much uncertainty would’ve killed her. Her lists, her plans – they were her parachute, the thing to keep her from total free fall. She was in free fall now. And it wasn’t killing her. In fact, she was beginning to wonder if she mightn’t had it backwards. All that fixating on the fall…maybe she should’ve been paying more attention to the free.”

So, I’m going to take a lesson from Maribeth and try to “pay more attention to the free.”

Thanks for reading; and I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.

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