I loved Gayle Forman’s YA novels If I Stay and Where She Went, so I was very excited to read of her debut as a novelist for grown-ups. Leave Me is the story of Maribeth Klein, the sort of perfectionist, check-list obsessed, perfectionist career mommy I avoid like the plague. She schedules her life in 5-minute increments –or might as well do. Her husband, Jason, is typical of the breed married to such women, he’s a slacker in her eyes. In his mind he’s quit trying because he never does anything right enough. Their late-in-life IVF twins are showing strain. The girl is as bossy as Mom the boy scared of his shadow (who could blame him). That all changes when, at 44, Maribeth has a heart attack. (Twins at 40 and she still has the coveted thigh gap–I ask you?)
This books does a GREAT service to women readers by making us understand that yes, we do to have heart attacks–and often with very different symptoms. That’s huge. But this is when I started to like Maribeth even less. She takes off. Maribeth, the perfect working mom, ditches hubby willing to put up with her, two kids she hocked her soul to have, her mother who is trying to help, and her job. Why? To find out her medical history. Cue the music….she’s adopted.
Now, this is always a tough-y for me. I’m an adoptive Mom. I support people finding their birth parents, I support medical histories as part of adoption files, but I’m an adoptive Mom. This is a big irrational fear for most of us, I’d imagine. Oh and while she’s at it, she takes up swimming, becomes MB the cool older-friend and finds she a doctor. She also learns the truth about granola which causes her to clutch her Fit Bit, if not her pearls.
In spite of my opinion of the main character, this story though is so compelling I didn’t want to stop listening. There are no Hallmark moments, but no Lifetime horror stories either. A well-told story, characters who are mostly well-developed and story line that isn’t over the edge to incredulity-inducing. I won’t knit-pick about it–I’ve done enough with MB, though there are a few things that left me saying “Oh, yeah….sure.” It’s a grown-up’s YA novel. In short, Leave Me is well worth a read! Or, as I did, a listen. Leave Me by Gayle Forman.