Leave Me: A Novel

Leave Me: A Novel

by Gayle Forman


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“This surprising, compassionate story brings to life the secret, guilty fantasy of many overworked moms.” People
“In an enthralling novel reminiscent of Anne Tyler’s Ladder of Years, a woman who recently suffered a heart attack runs away to recover her equilibrium.”O, The Oprah Magazine

Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack.

Surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: she packs a bag and leaves. But, as is often the case, once we get where we’re going we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from herself and those she loves.

With bighearted characters--husbands, wives, friends, and lovers--who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing the fears we’re all running from. Gayle Forman is a dazzling observer of human nature. She has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head on and asks, what happens when a grown woman runs away from home?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594888215
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date: 06/27/2017
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 322,499
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Gayle Forman is a bestselling, award-winning author of young adult novels. Leave Me is her first novel for adults. Her novel If I Stay won the 2009 NAIBA Book of the Year Award and was a 2010 Indie Choice Honor Award winner. The film adaptation of If I Stay was released in 2014. Forman is also a journalist whose articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Seventeen, Cosmopolitan, and Elle. She has visited more than forty countries and wrote a nonfiction book about her travels titled You Can’t Get There from Here: A Year on the Fringes of a Shrinking World. Forman lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two daughters.

Read an Excerpt

Maribeth examined the monitor on her finger. A pulse ox. She recalled her father wearing one after his stroke. The monitors taped to her chest itched; she suspected it would take a good scrubbing tonight to get the glue off. “Excuse me,” she called to one of the ER residents, a stylish young woman who wore expensive shoes and spoke with a Valley Girl lilt. “Do you know when I might get out of here?”

“I think they, like, ordered another blood draw,” the doctor said.

“Another one. Why? I thought my EKG was normal.”

“It’s procedure.”

More like covering their asses or padding the bill. Maribeth had once edited an exposé about profit-driven hospitals.

With that she remembered the piece Finoula had sent. She might as well cross something off her list. She pulled it up on her phone. It was an interesting premise—about celebrities who were harnessing social media for philanthropic purposes; Maribeth vaguely recalled suggesting it in a pitch meeting—but it was terribly executed. Usually, Maribeth could read an article and immediately see the problems in structure or logic or voice and know how to fix them. But she read the piece a second time, then a third, and couldn’t see the forest for the trees, couldn’t see how to make it right.

It was the hospital. Hardly a conducive workplace. She needed to get home. It was almost dinnertime. Jason would probably be back with the kids by now. He might even start to, if not worry, then wonder. She closed the article and saw several missed calls from the landline. She called and Jason answered almost right away. “Maribeth,” he said. “Where are you?”

The sound of Jason’s steady, sonorous voice shook something loose in her. Maybe because his phone voice resembled his radio voice, it had the power to ricochet her back twenty-five years in time, to those nights when Maribeth and her friends would listen to his Demo-Gogue show from their dorm and muse over who he really was (his on-air name was Jinx) and what he was really like. “I’ll bet he’s ugly as sin,” her roommate Courtney had said. “Hot voice, hideous face.” Maribeth, who worked for the college newspaper, had no opinions as to his looks, but she was certain that he would be an unbearable snob, like all the art and music writers on staff were. “You should interview him and find out,” Courtney had dared.

“Where are you?” Jason repeated. Now she heard the irritation in his voice. And then she heard why. In the background was the clatter of adults and children. Many, many children.

The potluck. Tonight. Shit!

“I thought you wanted me to make the chicken, but we don’t have any in the house and now people are here,” Jason said. “Are you getting food?”

“No. I’m sorry. I forgot.”

“You forgot?” Now Jason sounded pissed. Which she supposed she understood, but it still made her chest clench again. Because, really: How many times had Jason spaced on something, leaving her to mop up the mess?

“Yes, I forgot,” she said, her voice snappish. “I had other things on my mind, what with being stuck in the ER all afternoon.”

“Wait? What? Why?”

“I was having chest pains, so Dr. Cray sent me just to get checked out,” she explained.

“What the fuck?” Now Jason sounded angry, truly angry, but in a different way from before. Like he was sticking up for her against a bully.

“It’s probably nothing, just stress,” she said, feeling foolish for having told him, and more foolish for having told him out of spite. “They’ve had me under observation for hours.”

“Why didn’t you call me?”

“I tried, but you didn’t answer, and anyway, I thought I’d be out of here by now.”

“Where are you?”


“Should I come up?”

“Not with everyone in the house. Just tell them I had work late and then order some pizza. They’re letting me out soon.” She pounded her chest with her fist, hoping that might make the resurgent pain go away.

“Shouldn’t I be with you?”

“By the time you got up here, I’d be discharged. It was just an overblown case of heartburn.” In the background, she heard Oscar begin to cry. “What’s going on?”

“Looks like Mo took Creepy Lovey.”

Creepy Lovey was a defaced teddy bear that Oscar couldn’t sleep without. “Better get it back,” she told Jason. “And can I talk to him? Or Liv?”

As Jason tried to corral the children, her phone made that mournful sound, down to its last 10 percent, and then, a few seconds later, made another sad sound, and died.

“I’ll be home soon,” she called. But they could no longer hear her.


LATER A GRANDFATHERLY doctor wearing a polka-dot bow tie showed up. He introduced himself as Dr. Sterling and told Maribeth he was the on-call cardiologist. “There was an abnormality on one of your EKGs so we ordered that second blood test and this one showed elevated levels of troponin,” he explained.

“But the earlier EKG was normal.”

“That’s not atypical,” he replied. “My guess is that you’ve had what we sometimes call a stuttering infarct.”

“A what?” Maribeth asked.

“Ischemia, probably ongoing for the past twenty-four hours or so, which is why you’ve had intermittent pain, and now your blood work suggests complete occlusion of one of the arteries.”

“Oh,” Maribeth said, struggling to take it in. “I see.”

“So, we’re going to send you to the cardiac cath lab to look for any underlying blockages in your coronary arteries, and if we determine a blockage, we’ll place a stent right then and there.”

“When is all this happening?”

“Lickety-split. As soon as we can get you upstairs.”

“Now?” She looked at the clock. It was past seven. “It’s Friday night.”

“You have plans to go out dancing?” He was amused by his joke.

“No. I just wondered if we could we do this, this stent thing next week?”

“Oh, no. We need to get in there before any more damage is done.”

Damage. She didn’t like the sound of that. “Okay. How long does it take? I mean, when can I expect to get out of here?”

“My, my, are you always in such a hurry?” he asked. He chuckled again, but this time there was the slap to it, as if the underlying message was I see how you got yourself here.

But at this very moment twelve four-year-olds were rampaging around her apartment. Someone was going to have to clean up after them, to find the Goldfish crackers that Mo always stashed away in the closet, or the soiled diapers that Tashi always left in the kitchen garbage (because Ellery still would only crap in Pampers). Someone was going to have to make chocolate chip pancakes for Saturday morning breakfast and to make sure the pantry was stocked with all the ingredients.

And that was just tonight. In the coming days, someone had to get the kids to their ballet classes, their soccer clinics, their speech therapy sessions, their playdates, their birthday parties. To take them shopping for their Halloween costumes, to the pediatrician for their flu shots, to the dentist for their cleanings. Someone had to plan the meals, buy the food, pay the bills, balance the checkbook. Someone had to get it all done, while still getting all the work-work done.

Maribeth sighed. “It’s just I have a house full of four-year-olds and a very busy weekend.”

He stared at her for a long moment, frowning. Maribeth looked back, disliking him already, and that was before he said, “You do realize you’ve had a heart attack?”

Customer Reviews

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Leave Me 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very sweet & relatable story with endearing characters. Not the author's usual YA novel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesomw writer
bumblebee23 More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book through Goodreads! This book was Gayle Forman's first adult novel and I definitely enjoyed it. As a mom I have definitely had those days where I wanted to run away, but in the book Maribeth actually does it! After a serious health scare Maribeth has the urge to leave when she needs to heal but everyone expects her to be good as new! Will she ever want to come back? What will she discover about herself while she is gone? A quick read about taking care of yourself, even though I could never do what Maribeth did!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Seriously kept my interest!
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
I think many individuals are in a way like Maribeth and I found myself in her shoes many times throughout this novel. Maribeth tried to be a perfectionist, she tried to jungle everything that life threw at her but she failed to take care of herself. It was just the way things were, she knew no different, running from one thing to another: work, family, the kid’s schedules and trying to maintain an ideal family, Maribeth was always on until the day she started not to feel good. A trip to the walk-in clinic lands Maribeth in the hospital and her life as she knew it, has changed. A heart attack has now set Maribeth back, a medical condition she feels she is too young to have suffered. This was a wakeup call for her and she takes the doctor’s advice seriously. Knowing she must make some major adjustments, Maribeth feels helpless and her emotions are edgy and strong. I understood her conflict as she battled to change. Work, her role at home and her relationship with her children are scaled back as she tries to heal physically but the emotional and mental toll that they played on her are just as difficult if not worse. I was not ready for the dramatic step that Maribeth took as she started to pack her bags and leave everything behind. Maribeth felt she needed to get away to heal herself, where she was going, she didn’t know. Who does this? How can you do this to small children who need their mother? As she made her new life in her new apartment, I was resentful that she was living off the grid without her family, carrying on like a runaway. I was totally hooked in this story, I had to know the future of this family, was their hope for them? Was she really planning on ditching her family forever? How did her husband feel about this? This was a great novel to listen to on audio. The characters were wonderful and I enjoyed especially the ones that Maribeth met in Pittsburgh where she tried to live anonymously. I have always enjoyed Gayle Forman novels and this one is definitely worth checking out. 4.5 stars
KateUnger More than 1 year ago
Leave Me is Gayle Forman’s first book “starring adult characters,” as she described it at BEA. She wanted to write a story about marriage and motherhood, with scenes of family life. I think Gayle has found her calling! I enjoyed her young adult fiction, but I loved this book! Maribeth has the hectic life of a mother who is working full time. She’s juggling everything – her career, her household duties, and caring for her twin 4-year olds. She’s doing too much, and she doesn’t feel like her husband supports her at all. When she has a heart attack at 44-years old, she is truly terrified that it might happen again and that she might die. When she comes home from the hospital, her husband expects things to go back to normal. Yes, her mother is there “helping out,” and her best friend and boss doesn’t expect her to come back to work right away, but she’s still not really given the time and space she needs to heal, so she runs away. The first 100 pages of this book were riveting. I couldn’t put it down. I keep thinking, “Every mother needs to read this book.” It was so spot on! Once Maribeth runs away, it becomes a story about finding herself. She was adopted, and she yearns to understand whether her health issues have root in her heritage. Gayle draws on the classic YA contemporary plot line and applies it to her adult character. It worked really well, although the middle of the book dragged just slightly for me. I loved the characters in this book. Maribeth was me and all of my friends. She was so relatable, and I identified with her right away. Her husband, Jason, had a lot more depth than I had originally given him credit for, and I felt for him by the end of the book as well. Maribeth makes a few friends along the way, and they added to the story as well. They all had enough background and characterization to bring their own elements into the plot. I especially loved the surrogate children – the college kids living in Maribeth’s apartment complex. The scene with the frozen Thanksgiving turkey was a lot of fun. Leave Me is a wonderful contemporary fiction story. I think anyone who’s been a mother or even felt overwhelmed by life will enjoy it. Go get your copy now! You won’t regret reading it. http://opinionatedbooklover.com/review-leave-gayle-forman/
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
I could really relate to this character a LOT! I remember when I had my first child and my husband stayed home from work to "help". He spent his time in the garage. This was 1980, I had to get up out of bed, pass the nursery, the living room, the dining room, the kitchen, go into the backyard to the garage and ask for his help. It was easier to do it myself. Which I did. I really felt for this woman. She had a heart attack. Then she had a stent put in. Then she had to have open heart surgery. Then she was allowed to go home. She had her husband, who was no help. Her husband called her mother to come over and help. She helped some. However, when Maribeth did get out of bed, all she saw was dirty dishes and laundry everywhere. The kids (kindergarden age) would come running in and jump on her and no one would help the poor woman. How is that resting? They would want books read at bedtime and no one would step up and say "mom's resting, let me do that". Nope it was all up to mom. I was really disappointed with the grandmother. It's no wonder Maribeth did what she did. Oh to be Maribeth for a day, a week, or even a month. It's every mother's dream. This was a great fantasy book, because none of us would ever do it. How would it look? We are women, we are mothers, we are strong. BS. I loved this story and I would gladly parade up and down the street holding a sign saying "Yay for Maribeth!". Don't know what I'm talking about? Then you definitely need to get this book and live the fantasy at least as long as it takes to read the book, especially if your a working mom with children. Or, if like Maribeth, you've had a serious illness or operation. It will make you smile. Thanks Algonquin Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley and great entertainment in exchange for an honest review.
MsArdychan More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful book, full of winning characters. Please Note: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence the content of my review in any way. I have only read one other Gayle Forman book, If I Stay which, to be blunt, I didn't care for. Yet this book, the author's first adult novel, was wondrous. I think it's because I wasn't the target audience for If I Stay, but I could completely relate to Leave me. The story is about a woman who is so busy taking care of her family that she doesn't realize she having a heart attack. While I have not had that particular thing happen to me, I did have breast cancer a few years ago. While I did get help with my kids from my friends, I still felt an intense pressure to pretend that everything was okay. What I liked: Characters: Maribeth: Maribeth is living the life she aspired to (sort of). She has the husband, the kids, and the career. But she also has tremendous responsibilities. It takes a lot to run a household and, despite the changing times, the majority of it still falls to Maribeth. Gayle Forman gets the details just right: the bills that need to get paid, the lessons the kids must attend, the playgroups and parent-to-parent relationships that take effort to maintain. It is a juggling act that is bound to fall apart when Maribeth becomes ill. Jason: At first, I found Jason to be infuriating. He is completely clueless as he expects Meribeth to hurry up and quickly resume her hectic schedule. He doesn't seem to get that she just survived a terrible ordeal. I was expecting Jason to fall into the role of the scapegoat for the book. But the author didn't go the easy route. As the story progresses, Jason's character develops where I can see why Meribeth fell in love with him in the first place. It was a delightful turn that I didn't expect. Secondary Characters: There are many wonderful characters in this book. The neighbors, Sunita and Todd offer a glimpse into how relatively easy young adulthood is compared with Maribeth's current life. Stephen is a doctor who has been through his own life-altering incident. There is also Janice, who is helping Maribeth look for her birth mother. Each character is well-developed and I wound up caring about each of them. What I Was Mixed About: Although I think that Maribeth had to leave in order to heal herself, I think this could only happen in a book. It was very convenient for her to have a small inheritance to rely on so money wasn't an issue. This, however, was a very minor annoyance for me. I think she had to get away in order to sort out her life. This was a wonderful book, full of winning characters.
xorubituesdays More than 1 year ago
**3.5 stars** Leave Me was a very interesting book for me. On one end, I am 28 years old and have no children so my life is a lot more relaxed than that of most around me. On the other end, I am the youngest of 7 children and the daughter of a stay-at-home mom who carried the majority of that weight alone. Although I've never been the one tiny mouths depended on, I can recall looking around more than once and wondering how the heck she did it. So even though I couldn't relate to our main character Maribeth firsthand, I felt for her because I knew she was the unofficial spokeswoman for many women across the world! "The logistics of their weekends generally made her feel like an air traffic controller, but right now, she just couldn't keep the planes in the air." Gayle Forman poured herself into this novel and you can feel Maribeth's frustration jump out at you. The first half of the book was spent with me having the overwhelming desire to shake those around her. It hurt to see a woman who selflessly put herself last get taken for granted by those she put first. I couldn't necessarily agree with the way Maribeth chose to play things out, but I could understand the thought process behind her decisions. "I believe you have a healthy heart. The doctors have done their part. But if you want to get better, really better, well you're going to have to do that for yourself." I really enjoyed the first 3 quarters of this book and the range of characters we met in the process. It was the ending that felt a bit abrupt. I sort of felt like story lines were opened up that this book could have done without (in particular her 2nd doctor) and I would have liked either an extended ending or an epilogue. Either way, I do think that this book was made for the many women who feel taken for granted, unappreciated, and have fantasized about taking a couple of weeks off. I don't think up and leaving the way Maribeth did is for everyone, but I do believe that Leave Me can serve as a daydream of "what if". **Big thanks to Algonquin Books and Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange of an honest review.**
Myndia More than 1 year ago
Maribeth is a 44 year old mother of preschool aged twins, working in New York City at a magazine. As is so often the case, the bulk of child and house related responsibilities fall on her plate, in addition to working a very taxing job. When she has an unexpected heart attack, she starts to realize that her life and her relationship are not at all where she wants them to be, and she takes drastic action to try and right herself. In the process, she meets new people and learns a great deal about herself as well as the quality of her previous relationships. Oh my, there was so, so much in this book that I identified with. Wrestling with being a mother and a wife and a daughter and a friend, and juggling all the responsibilities and complexities that go along with those roles while still finding some semblance of yourself? It feels impossible sometimes. And frustrating. And it’s hard not to feel unappreciated, forgotten, even taken advantage of. In the book, Maribeth’s home nurse says that many women she has cared for have secretly hoped for an extended hospital stay because it’s the only way they could get a real vacation from their lives, where no one expected anything of them, where people were taking care of them for once. Oh, how very much I relate to that! Definitely an emotionally complex book. As much as I identified with Maribeth’s feelings about her role in her own life, the way in which she dealt with her feelings was not something I could – or would – ever do. She is very lucky that she had the people in her life that she did because I don’t think things would work out that way for me (or most people) if I made the same choice. I understand the desire to do what she did, but I have a hard time understanding actually doing it. And maybe that’s the point. If we really love people, we should give them leeway to do what they need, and we shouldn’t wait until they are hurting and desperate to do so. And we shouldn’t wait until a near death experience to take stock of our lives either. Every day we’re breathing is a chance to choose a different way, a different perspective, to communicate what we need, and to give our loved ones the chance to step up. A really great book that pulled on all my heart strings, and made me reconsider – once again – how much of a role I have in how things are and how I feel. Self-reflection can be a wonderous thing. Definitely recommend. I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Say iphone 5c thn pick a color then post tis on ten other books