Monday, September 4, 2017

Book Review: 'Leave Me' by Gayle Forman

Forty-four year old Maribeth Klein is an editor for a celebrity lifestyle magazine, has a caring husband, and is the mother of lively four-year-old twins. in addition to holding down a full-time job, she schedules her children's activities, prepares nourishing meals, and makes every effort to keep her household running smoothly.. Maribeth is perpetually exhausted and overwhelmed by her professional and personal responsibilities. In addition, she has unresolved emotional issues that she has carefully swept under the rug. Suddenly, a serious health crisis drives her over the edge, propelling her to make a decision that could derail her marriage and career.

In “Leave Me,” Gayle Forman breathes new life into what could have been a trite tale of a burned-out woman who is fed up with being pulled in so many directions. Maribeth is an unconventional heroine--complex, tightly wound, and, at times, obnoxious. It takes a while to warm up to this slightly unhinged individual. When she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, she is fortunate to encounter generous men and women who are struggling with their own challenges. Forman raises such provocative questions as: How can an overburdened working mother learn to lower her expectations? In addition, what price does she pay when she buries her feelings instead of facing them head-on?

Although certain aspects of this story are too contrived to be believed, we are happy to go along for the ride. Forman entertains us with understated and deft prose, witty dialogue, intriguing revelations, and a nicely executed finale. “Leave Me” emphasizes life’s unpredictability. Maribeth wonders, "With the ground always shifting under her, how could she ever hope to regain her footing?" Having functioned on autopilot for so many years, she must finally figure out who she is and what she wants. In spite of her irritating self-centeredness, we gradually grow to care about this confused woman who is, at last, taking a critical look at the choices she has made. This is a bittersweet, fast-paced, and rewarding novel that, once begun, is difficult to put down.

Editor's note: This review was written by Eleanor Bukowsky and has been reposted with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.