Leave Me by Gayle Forman
|Leave Me by Gayle Forman|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Kerry King|
|Summary: Maribeth Klein was having a heart attack. In her mid forties, she of course put it down to stress, indigestion, being run down, generally just feeling, you know, off. So when she opened her eyes, some days later, unable to breathe, but breathing; with a bright light in her face, she thought she was dreaming. As you would. Except she was freezing and she couldn't speak. Yep, definitely dreaming. Or dead. Was she actually dead? Maribeth figured that since she was hurting from head to toe, she was probably alive and had been having a heart attack after all.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: September 2016|
|Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK|
|External links: Author's website|
When you've had a heart attack and frightened the hell out of not just yourself, but your husband, your children – if they had known - your mother and your best friend, you imagine that some long overdue TLC is about to come your way. You're thinking cards, flowers, being waited on hand, foot and finger and even though the imminent influx of culinary gifts are likely to be low fat, low sugar and taste like the box they came in, they're coming, right? And you'll probably get a couple of months off work and not even have to think about the laundry. Or the housework? Or taking the twins to school? Right? Right????
As Maribeth Klein looks up at the departures board in Grand Central Station, her fingers still aching from the letter she has written to her husband, Jason, the content of which now long gone from her memory, the only thing she knows is that she is getting on a train to Pittsburgh and she doesn't know when she is coming back. It's an empowering and potent step that Maribeth is taking. For although she is almost paralysed with the guilt of leaving her pre-schooler twins and her husband - with whom she has spent almost half of her life - she's getting on that damn train because if she doesn't, she's probably going to end up back in the ED with another heart attack. One that she might not survive this time.
So, I'm the same age as Maribeth. That was a powerful note to self, let me tell you. I suppose, like Maribeth, we all think that heart failure in your 40s is something that happens to other people; something that happens because of genetic defects or people who don't look after themselves. Don't we? But like those people with genetic defects who can trace their lineage back to a relative who died young and the dots are easy to connect, what if you are adopted? Like Maribeth.
Well, I'm not adopted (though sometimes, I look at at least one of my parents and think I simply must be) but it does make you realise that we're all here for a short time and some of us are here for a shorter time than others!
This is a great novel with a capital G. It dips a nose into modern parenting – you know, the two-out-at-work scenario where the mother has a part time job that involves her working at least as many hours as her full time colleagues and then some more because she has the stigma of being a working mother to deal with. Then, adding insult to injury, quite literally speaking in the case of this story, there are all the mother-chores to do, assigned to you because, as a part time worker, you have time…. Well, I just bet this is ringing all kinds of bells for you, because it did for me. Even if you are a stay-at-home mum, you're still working more hours than the average bear, because you don't get to clock off and go home and put your feet up!
This wonderful and enlightening story also takes a long, hard and somewhat sneakily-delivered look at the issues of abandonment that one might feel as an adult when you are an adopted child. Issues that you didn't know you had – because you're evolved and dealing with it, aren't you - until you were suddenly feeling all of them, in another town and another life because you had to run away from your old one.
Truly, I had trouble putting this one down. I would say to you that I empathised and totally associated with Maribeth as if I was looking in the mirror. I've never had a heart attack (touch wood, spin round, whistle) or major health crisis but then, that's just semantics. I've felt like Maribeth; I truly have. A million mums around the world have too. More; probably a billion. Some of us have said Honey, I'm not wearing any underwear today…. Because you didn't put the laundry in the dryer like I asked you to do a thousand million times and some of us haven't got anyone to say that to because they're doing it by themselves, whether they wanted to or not.
This novel is a celebration of humanity. It recognises how you can stumble and fall and still fly like a bird. It reminds you that we are all fragile human beings, imperfect and all a work in progress and above all, it reminds us that life is complex and frightening but not impossible even if it sometimes looks like the Three Peaks Challenge, all day, every day.
If you like the sound of Leave Me, I should just mention that this is Gayle Forman's first work of fiction that is not on the Young Adult list. As I've said many times, it would do us all good to read some Young Adult fiction because it reminds you that you're not so grown up that you can't relate to being a teenager again and maybe learn something. In any case, she's a formidable writer and you may like to take a look at If I Stay by Gayle Forman which hints at the kind of content Leave Me delivered. If poking around in the adoption storyline is of interest to you, then I'd like to recommend The English American by Alison Larkin. On the subject of wives, I would be derelict in my duty if I did not suggest these final two: Novel About My Wife by Emily Perkins and The Wife by Meg Wolitzer, because Meg Wolitzer should be required reading for husbands in particular and for Year 11 and upwards.
I can't thank Simon and Schuster enough for the privilege of reviewing this copy.
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