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Leave Me


Leave Me

At the opening of LEAVE ME, readers will recognize Maribeth Klein as the kind of character they’ve come to know well in fiction, if not in real life. On the outside, she’s living the dream, working at a glossy magazine with her longtime best friend Elizabeth and coming home to her rent-controlled Tribeca loft to spend the evening with her handsome husband, Jason, and their adorable preschool twins, Oscar and Olivia. On the inside, though, Maribeth is falling apart --- first figuratively, as she fears that one more editorial meeting or parents-of-twins potluck might send her or her marriage over the edge, and soon literally, as she suffers a heart attack at the ripe old age of 44.

"LEAVE ME is popular YA author Gayle Forman’s first novel aimed at adult readers, and here’s hoping it won’t be her last."

Like many people who undergo life-threatening health scares, Maribeth comes home from the hospital viewing her life in a whole new light. In her case, however, that light is far from flattering, and instead of an impulse to embrace each moment of her life, Maribeth finds herself longing to run away from her life altogether. So that’s exactly what she does. Without any preamble, Maribeth leaves Jason a hurried, somewhat cryptic note (the contents of which she doesn’t even remember later), and armed with little more than a wad of cash from her inheritance and her statin medications, she takes the next train to Pittsburgh.

Why Pittsburgh? Because she knows that that’s where she was adopted, when she was a baby. Having undergone her heart attack and the inevitable follow-up questions about family history and risk factors, Maribeth realizes for perhaps the first time just how much of her own personal history she’s missing --- and how much she doesn’t know about what she’s handing down to her own children. At first, traveling under a pseudonym and even paying cash for her follow-up cardiologist appointments, Maribeth just wants to be left alone. But as she begins to come alive to the community, and even to entertain thoughts about searching for her birth mother, she starts making connections that just might allow her to realize why she left in the first place --- and how she might possibly find her way home again.

It’s easy to imagine countless book clubs divided into two equally persuasive camps of Maribeth detractors and Maribeth defenders. Some readers, especially as they come to know and understand her personal history over the course of the novel, will come to make sense of, if not necessarily sympathize with, her overwhelming need to leave her prior life. Others may not even read that far, especially if they find Maribeth’s actions incomprehensible at best and inexcusable at worst. But prompting that kind of vigorous debate --- whether with oneself or over a couple glasses of wine at book group --- is exactly what makes reading worthwhile, and what will keep people thinking and talking about this book for quite some time.

LEAVE ME is popular YA author Gayle Forman’s first novel aimed at adult readers, and here’s hoping it won’t be her last.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on September 9, 2016

Leave Me
by Gayle Forman

  • Publication Date: June 27, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books
  • ISBN-10: 1616207329
  • ISBN-13: 9781616207328