“Would it surprise you to learn that one of the top fantasies for women is a prolonged hospital stay?”
Of course as Leave Me by Gayle Forman, notes this only works as a fantasy. In real life illness and hospitalization just make things even more stressful. With a demanding job as a magazine editor and a pair of four year old twins, multitasking Maribeth Klein is so overworked that she doesn’t even realize she’s having a heart attack. The fact that she delays seeing a doctor for a whole day inevitably causes major damage and Maribeth barely survives the ordeal. All this would be dramatic enough but Maribeth’s story really begins with her recovery as she faces the fact that she has become a burden to the people she cares about. Sick, depressed, and anxious, Maribeth does the unthinkable; she packs a bag and takes off, leaving her husband only a “Dear John” letter with no idea when she’ll return.
It soon becomes apparent from her choice of destination (Pittsburgh! My hometown!) that Maribeth’s near brush with death has brought out old questions and insecurities. Especially about the fact that her biological mother made an adoption plan for her in Pittsburgh over 40 years ago. Maribeth settles in surprisingly well to her new incognito existence which is in fact the first extended vacation she’d had in well…forever. She explores the joys of Pittsburgh, makes friends with a couple of college kids in her building, and even begins a flirtation with her new cardiologist. But the ugly fact remains that Maribeth has abandoned her family and the longer she stays out of touch the harder it will be to re-connect. Forman has made a reputation as a great author of YA fiction; most notably her #1 Bestseller If I Stay. Leave Me is her first entry into ‘grown-up’ novels, and it’s a very promising and engrossing debut. I can think of no better praise than to say I ended up finishing the whole book (340 pages) in one day without intending to.