Book Review: Leave Me by Gayle Forman **SPOILER FREE**

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Genre(s): Contemporary; Adult Fiction

Publication Date: September 6, 2016

Plot: [Copied from Goodreads] 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.

Pros:

  • I have never said “I relate to this so much” more than while I read this book
  • Seriously, I empathized with Maribeth so much that it’s getting a second bullet point
  • Maribeth’s journey of losing and then finding herself is exactly how I think it would play out for any woman
  • She is clearly a good mother, despite running away from her children
  • I really loved Sunny and Todd

Cons:

  • I didn’t like the whole Stephen plot line; like I get why it was there, I just didn’t like it
  • I feel like she should have mourned the loss of her old self (mostly her children) more than she did
  • It felt incomplete somehow, and I can’t put my finger on it
  • I kind of wish we’d gotten more of what happened with the reason she went to Pittsburgh (vague spoiler-free, but if you read it, you’ll know)

Quotes (keeping this as spoiler-free as possible; I turned in my library book before I could write down the quotes I liked):

  • “Sleeping late, like unconsciousness, happened for a reason. Because your body knew you couldn’t handle being awake.”
  • “Scars are just tattoos with better stories.”

My Thoughts: Well, Gayle Forman did it again. She wrote a book that, on many occasions, made me go, “Wooooah”. When I first heard that Gayle Forman was writing an adult novel, I had mixed feelings. Not because I didn’t believe in her– on the contrary, I was excited that she was branching out. But I knew this book would get mixed reviews– either from people who think an author should only ever write one genre, or people who might not relate to the book. I decided to read the book for myself, rather than listen to reviews, and I’m readlly glad that I did.

This book surprised me in a number of ways.

Usually when a YA author shifts to adult literature, they go out of their way to write sex scenes, as if that’s what blurs the line between Young Adult and Adult. Gayle Forman kept this book tasteful and to the point, and I feel like the book was better for that.

Then there was the main plot. Every mother, at some point in the journey that is motherhood, thinks, What if I just ran away? If you’re a mother and you’re reading this thinking, No way, I would never say that, you’re either lying to yourself or you’re not far enough into the journey to think this. It’s not because motherhood is awful– because motherhood is not awful. But it is overwhelming; and when a crisis throws itself into the mix? Well, then it’s basically the exact opposite of a free trip to Disneyland on the fun scale. Gayle Forman wasn’t afraid to tell it like it is– that sometimes motherhood is hard, and sometimes husbands don’t make it any easier. But Maribeth, instead of doing retail therapy or coffee therapy or a netflix binge, took it to the next step and actually left her family behind to start a new, if temporary, life. There were parts of this that weren’t believeable to me– like I would have been sobbing right away because I would just miss my babies so much.

Finally, there were the earlier conversations between Maribeth and Jason, where her spoken dialogue was in quotes, but her thoughts were in italics. I have, on more than one occasion, said something to my husband while thinkingI seriously am two seconds from punching you in your dumb face. It’s not often, but it does happen. When Maribeth asked Jason to cook something and then thought, Please don’t say “I’ll make pizza”, I actually laughed out loud because my husband and I had just had that exact conversation (without the whole entertaining guests thing). All of these things made this book believeable and enjoyable, and while I kind of wish Stephen’s plot line had just not happened (no spoilers, but I mean I guess I get it), I’m glad that she met the people she met, because they helped her (physically and emotionally) find herself.

Gayle Forman delivered a wonderful, emotional debut adult novel with Leave Me, and while I don’t think it’s something that every reader would enjoy, I would recommend this to mothers who are lost, readers who love Gayle and want a little something different, and anyone looking for an emotional read with some good humor thrown into the mix.

Links:
Goodreads
Amazon
Gayle Forman

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