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.
Publication Date: 6th September 2016
I spent a really long time pondering whether or not I thought Maribeth was absolutely despicable or just someone who was a terrifyingly honest portrayal of the modern woman.
At the end of the book, with tears streaming down my face, I finally decided on the latter.
Leave Me follows Maribeth, a working mother of young twins who is constantly trying to balance being a mother and maintaining a career as an editor. Every day she comes home harried and stressed. She juggles ten million things and yet still seems to be doing pretty alright. That is, until she has a heart attack and her family immediately falls apart as the main cog in the whole machine splutters to a stop.
With her family clamouring at her and Maribeth being fresh out of a major surgery, she understandably starts to feel extremely cloistered and then:
She packs up with only a note left behind and moves. She gets a new house, new friends, a new (albeit damaged) doctor and she disappears.
For a long time in the book, I was furious at Maribeth. How could she just leave her two young kids like that? How could someone who claimed to love her children so much that she felt actual terror at how much she loved them just pack up and leave them. Without so much as a single arrangement made, she packs up, disappears and doesn’t make any contact for over a month. It was beyond me.
Until I realised that every single one of us is a Maribeth. We may not be parents. We may not have any of the stresses Maribeth had. We may not even have a single health problem.
But we are all Maribeths because at one point or the other, we have all flirted with the idea of just packing our bags and disappearing.
It just so happened that Maribeth acted on it.
Now of course this opened up a whole new discussion within myself about who the heck gave Maribeth the permission to do what we regular people can only fantasise about.
And then, something interesting happened in my life. I fell sick last week (that’s one of the reasons why it was radio silence from me for a while) Anyway, because of the nature of my job, I could not take any leave and so I had to struggle to work and interviews and movies previews last week all while fighting a horrid flu.
Now I’ve always felt been the kind of person that people come to when they need help because I generally love to help people and I gladly do it. But I guess it was a combination of feeling sick and stressed that caused me to mentally breakdown for two days last week.
About the middle of the week, I had so much going on and on top of that, it seemed like everyone wanted a piece of me all at once. With the people I loved clamouring for my attention while I was so sick, I just snapped a bit.
And it was after that mental breakdown that I finally saw why she had to leave.
She had no choice. She had to leave to heal. She had to stop the mental breakdown. Because some people can handle it but some people just can’t. Some people really just need their bubble.
So at the end, I surprised myself by actually not hating Maribeth. Sure she made some questionable decisions while she was away that even I can’t rationalise away but she wasn’t a horrible person and really, neither were her husband or best friend.
Sunita, Todd, Stephen & Janice
I loved all the supporting characters that entered Maribeth’s new life and helped her as she tried to recreate herself in order to heal. I just thought that they made wonderful additions to the book. I love how big-heart everyone was and how willing they were to help her. Bitchy characters are overrated. These people just made the book perfect.
When I reached the end of this book, I was in tears because of how honest and raw it was. This book will really make you think very deeply about your deepest desires. It will make you question your morals. It’s a silent killer. It has reasoning that will really sneak up behind you and kick your feet out from under you.
But honestly, that is why I think this is the best book Gayle Forman has written in a long time. And that’s saying something.