Does everyone have a fantasy escape plan? Or am I a freak? Both can be true, but I do think that most people, even relatively happy people have that secret plan to throw it all away and start somewhere new. Mine involves making a scene at work and shouting all kinds of things that HR people are not allowed to shout, selling my house, hopping a flight to Rome and spending my days drinking espresso and wine, eating pasta and artichokes, learning to say more than scuzi, playing with Italian men and writing my book. It probably won’t happen, but damn it’s a nice thought sometimes.
In Leave Me, Gayle Forman’s new book (her first that is not YA), we meet Maribeth Klein. Maribeth is having a no good very bad few weeks. At only 44, she has suffered a heart attack out of the blue, and only figures it out a day later when she mistakenly thinks it is gas that won’t go away. She is too busy; she is a New York woman working at a magazine, who is married with young twins. Eventually the heart attack halts everything, as heart attacks do, and she is forced to slow to a stop and rest and actually take care of herself.
Unfortunately, her recuperation is not quite convenient for everyone around her, and the demands of her life do not stop. Her husband resents the extra work and asks her mother to stay, but her mother is actually more work than she is help. And of course the children have no idea that she is not feeling normal, so eventually she just loses it and… leaves. Girlfriend packs a bag and gets on a train and goes to Pittsburgh, which while a fine place to have a mental breakdown is also the city that she was adopted from as an infant.
Maribeth begins to deal with the monumentally horrible thing that she has done, and search for her roots, and heal all while making tenuous new connections and trying to figure out how to get back to her life without driving herself crazy. Most people don’t really live out their drop-everything-and-run fantasies, so this was a pretty fun premise. Leave Me is a light and easy wish fulfillment novel that had me laughing out loud. It was also fun for a quick read when I needed a break from emotionally exhausting myself with Lincoln in the Bardo.
Leave Me by Gayle Forman – Grade B