Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Adult – Contemporary
Published September 6th 2016 by Algonquin Books
I never really realized just how unorganized I am until I tried to unpack my things and all hell broke loose. Long story short, I’m all caught up with The Great American Bake Off but I’m still eating off of paper plates and have been using the same coffee mug every day. This book was supposed to me be my automatic love and an easy book. While it was okay I just don’t think I loved it as much as I wanted too.
Maribeth Klein is career woman, wife, and mother. She thinks she’s handling the stress of her life pretty well until one day at work she starts to have chest pains. Thinking it’s just something she ate she ignores it and heads to her yearly check-up (conveniently) where she then admits herself to the hospital, just in time considering she suffered a heart attack. After her surgery when she’s allowed to go home, she’s surprised to discover her family expects her to be fully healed and they take her healing process as some sort of imposition on their lives. With her frustration growing, Maribeth does the only thing she can think of and leaves.
I read the synopsis on Goodreads and was fully prepared to hate Maribeth, but decided to read this anyway. I think it’s a true testament to Forman’s writing that I not only did not actively hate this woman but at times found her likeable and complex. I never liked what Maribeth did by leaving her family but by the middle of the book you get a sense this woman was at her breaking point and this was the only way (right or wrong) that she saw for herself as a way to put herself back together.
Besides Maribeth her husband, for not being in the book very much, also felt human, especially once she began to communicate with him again. He was incredibly frustrating and I honestly understood why his actions (or lack thereof) would eventually push Maribeth to her breaking point, but he wasn’t just those actions. He was emotional but also recognized what she needed even when he was angry with her. By the end, he was more open about his fears and needs too and was showing that he was actively trying to work on himself so they could work on their relationship together. I didn’t like him but I sympathized with him and I think that’s all that was necessary to get myself invested in their love story.
My biggest problem were the things that were just pushed away for the sake of the story. The secondary characters were introduced merely to aid Maribeth, never because they felt like real people. I think the character who felt the brunt of this was Elizabeth. She was Maribeth’s former best friend and we only ever get a sense of her when Maribeth is reminiscing even though she is Maribeth’s current boss. The reader has no idea why she seemingly distanced herself from Maribeth or if she even noticed. I wanted to see more about their friendship instead of Maribeth reminiscing about it like it was the greatest thing ever and like they had no problems at all until Elizabeth became successful.
“I believe you have a healthy heart,” she said. “The doctors have done their part. But if you want to get better, really better, well, you’re going to have to do that for yourself.”
Probably not, although I loved the idea of this book I’m just not sure I loved this book and I think that’s mostly due to the fact I had such high expectations for a Gayle Forman book. I did love the exploration of motherhood and careers and how intertwine and how Maribeth finally cracks from the pressure when she is expected to do everything.