Thursday, September 15, 2016

Leave Me

Title:  Leave Me
Author:  Gayle Forman
Publication Information:  Algonquin Books. 2016. 352 pages.
ISBN:  1616206179 / 978-1616206178

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "Maribeth Klein was working late, waiting to sign off on the final page proofs of the December issue, when she had a heart attack."

Favorite Quote:  "So this was how it was. People entered your life. Some would stay. Some would not. Some would drift but would return to you."

Maribeth Klein has a heart attack and does not even realize it. Maribeth Klein has a heart attack in her forties and ends up in the hospital for a number of days. Her husband, her two children, her mother, and her friends are frantic and trying to take care of her. Then, Maribeth Klein comes home, and life goes on. Everyone reverts back to regularly scheduled life, and Maribeth finds herself as everyone's caretaker even as she is attempting to recover.

Sound familiar? So far, this sounds like a scenario many readers can understand and relate to. Many people find themselves being take for granted by those who love them the most. Many people find themselves in that caretaker role with sometimes no one to take care of them and sometimes with no one thinking that they need taking care of. "Would it surprise you to learn that one of the top fantasies for women is a prolonged hospital stay?"

For a while, Maribeth manages, and then one day, she just leaves. She walks out without letting anyone know where she is going or when or even if she will be back. Not her husband. Not her young children. Not her mother. Not her friends.

This scenario raises intriguing questions. What does it take for someone to walk away from a family? What does it take for a mother to walk away from two young children? What are the repercussions of walking away? What becomes of the person who leaves? What becomes of those she leaves behind? I look forward to the answers.

However, this is where the book takes a left turn in a completely different direction. First, suspend disbelief a little and imagine that Maribeth has independent resources to leave with a stack of cash that enables her to essentially disappear. Second, where does Maribeth go to get away from it all? It's not a retreat or a vacation or a grand adventure as one might think.

Maribeth gets on a bus to another town like hers. Once in Pittsburgh, she sets up an entire new life, along with new friendships and relationships and settles into a daily life routine. She leaves her family and seemingly calmly starts a new life. It begs two questions. Really? Why?

A lot of the book becomes about the question of why, which leads to unresolved issues that Maribeth has to deal with from other parts of her life. Those unresolved questions could form the basis of an entire book all on their own, but are too quickly and too easily reconciled here for the book to develop depth.

Some of the story remains about her husband and children, but only some. The book never does come back to answer the questions posed by the original scenario. The book ends in an oversimplified, unrealistic way. It is just way too easy.

The shift in focus brings plot lines to this book that I do not expect and that take it far from the original premise. It is still an entertaining book in a summer beach read kind of way, but leaves me disappointed for it is not the book I expect from the description.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

No comments:

Post a Comment