Review: Leave Me by Gayle Forman

Title: Leave Me
Author: Gayle Forman
Pages: 352
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Source: Free ARC from Algonquin

Rating: A

Note: As stated under the Source (above), I received this book for free from Algonquin via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review (and trust me, honest is always what you’ll get).

Review: Maribeth is a 44 year old mother of preschool aged twins, working in New York City at a magazine. As is so often the case, the bulk of child and house related responsibilities fall on her plate, in addition to working a very taxing job. When she has an unexpected heart attack, she starts to realize that her life and her relationship are not at all where she wants them to be, and she takes drastic action to try and right herself. In the process, she meets new people and learns a great deal about herself as well as the quality of her previous relationships.

Oh my, there was so, so much in this book that I identified with. Wrestling with being a mother and a wife and a daughter and a friend, and juggling all the responsibilities and complexities that go along with those roles while still finding some semblance of yourself? It feels impossible sometimes. And frustrating. And it’s hard not to feel unappreciated, forgotten, even taken advantage of. In the book, Maribeth’s home nurse says that many women she has cared for have secretly hoped for an extended hospital stay because it’s the only way they could get a real vacation from their lives, where no one expected anything of them, where people were taking care of them for once. Oh, how very much I relate to that!

Definitely an emotionally complex book. As much as I identified with Maribeth’s feelings about her role in her own life, the way in which she dealt with her feelings was not something I could – or would – ever do. She is very lucky that she had the people in her life that she did because I don’t think things would work out that way for me (or most people) if I made the same choice. I understand the desire to do what she did, but I have a hard time understanding actually doing it. And maybe that’s the point. If we really love people, we should give them leeway to do what they need, and we shouldn’t wait until they are hurting and desperate to do so. And we shouldn’t wait until a near death experience to take stock of our lives either. Every day we’re breathing is a chance to choose a different way, a different perspective, to communicate what we need, and to give our loved ones the chance to step up.

A really great book that pulled on all my heart strings, and made me reconsider – once again – how much of a role I have in how things are and how I feel. Self-reflection can be a wonderous thing.

Definitely recommend.

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