Gayle Forman's writing. Her newest book - Leave Me - is a departure from young adult fiction and is geared towards adult readers.
Maribeth Klein leads a busy life - wife, mother to twins and magazine editor. There's always somewhere to be, something to do and not enough time to do it in. And so, when she feels chest pains, Maribeth ascribes it to stress or perhaps it's simply indigestion. But it's not - it's a heart attack - at forty-four years old.
No, Maribeth doesn't die. But, she comes close and everything changes for her. When she returns home though, nothing seems to have changed. Barely into recovery, her husband and children treat her as they did before the heart attack, expecting so much from her. Her mother is there to help, but she too adds to the workload. And Maribeth? She simply can't take it - and she leaves. Leaves her husband, her children, her mother and her job. Takes her half of the savings, hops on a bus, rents a furnished apartment and stops. Stops to take stock of her life, her health, her relationship with her husband, her role as a mother. And her role as a child. Maribeth is adopted, but does not know her birth mother. Where does she want her life to go from here?
I think you would be hard pressed to find a mother who has not felt stretched to the limit with her time, energy and physical and mental capabilities. Let alone having a major health crisis. I know I did when my kids were younger. I can absolutely empathize with Maribeth's decision to leave. Although, I was a little annoyed with her for not being able to say no - both before and after her heart attack. But without that inability, there would be no story.
I liked Maribeth, liked her a lot. I was definitely sitting in her cheering section as she worked her way through her past and into her present. Forman throws in challenges and different avenues that Maribeth could travel along the way. What will she choose? I had my druthers, but won't spill the beans. Suffice it to say, I had a hard time liking her husband Jason. I just couldn't get past his initial introduction and actions despite further developments as the book progresses.(And is it bad if I say, I really didn't like the four year old daughter either? Her behaviour and dialogue seem older than four. But really annoying) I adored the upstairs neighbours - their quirkiness and kindness made them the kind of friends I would love to have in my circle.
And yes there are further developments and resolutions. And deep down, I know it's the only way the story could go, but that little bit of me just wonders what if.........(and I'm only talking about Jason here, not the kids) I did however find the ending a bit rushed considering the path to it.
Forman's writing flows so well and is very easy to read. I'll absolutely pick up her next book. Although Leave Me was a good read, it isn't my favourite from this author.
I think there will be Maribeth lovers and Maribeth detractors. Book clubs would have a field day with Leave Me - lots of fodder for discussion! The title is clever as leave me can apply to so many of the characters and their relationships. Read an excerpt of Leave Me.