“The truth will set you free but first it will make you miserable.”
Eyes scramble to this painfully honest remark in Gayle Forman’s new novel “Leave Me.” Writing a breathtaking tale that blends the complexities of motherhood with a demanding career, the New York Times best-selling author catches readers’ hearts once again — this time in the life-changing journey of the main character, Maribeth Klein.
Famous for writing “If I Stay” — before it projected to the big screen — Forman successfully weaves big-hearted and irresistible storylines. Yet, it is the genuineness in emotions of her humorous, yet sensitive narratives that is relatable to people of all ages — readers, who while musing over the novel’s truthful realizations, grip each page, hungry for more.
Set in New York City, “Leave Me” centers on Maribeth — a mother of twins and successful editor who struggles to balance the business consuming her everyday life and her family’s needs. After unknowingly having a heart attack at 45 years of age, Maribeth does the unthinkable — she makes the spur of the moment decision to pack a bag and leave her home and family, consequently hoping to find answers from her uncertain history.
Yet, when details of Maribeth’s past resurface, she is forced to reopen old wounds, thus unraveling a string of secrets that change the course of her life forever while reinforcing how easily everything can suddenly leave you.
Delving into a hard-hitting plot that thickens and intensifies with every page, the novel sheds light onto the power of forgiveness and self growth. Maribeth surrenders the person she once was — a perfectionist whose life revolved around lists and planning months in advance — in the hopes of finding something better. By confronting the new tangled elements of a former time, she freely lets her life take its course in the aspiration of learning a way to start again.
Forman’s allegory pulls at a single question — when all is lost, is the power of love for family strong enough to guide you back home? In attempting to solve her puzzle, Maribeth grasps just how crucial her loved ones are to her well-being.
Pondering over this topic numerous times throughout the novel, Maribeth is forced to examine her own life and what truly makes her happy. Thinking that her flawed heart hinders her relationships with others, she allows herself to make mistakes and not worry about the pressure of being perfect. What she observes is that although someone may not react or show emotions the same way, it does not mean that their tenderness is not there. For example, in the midst of arguments, Maribeth fights with words while her husband Jason retreats into silence. Yet, she realizes they were both terrified of feeling that similar overpowering, beautiful kind of love.
The story additionally weaves in a message about the importance of writing. By putting her thoughts down on paper, Maribeth begins to cope with the understanding of who she is and where she came from. Just as love can find its way back to people, she discovers that individuals can do the same as well.
“Leave Me” by Gayle Forman gives readers a chance to witness a story full of new perspectives come to life. Maribeth’s liberating friendships release a newfound zest for life within her — a wistful ache that she has buried inside all along. While learning that some people take longer to heal, Forman pivots toward a tale that melts readers’ hearts while simultaneously illustrating the power of giving chances when there is nothing left to give.
The novel reminds us that our stories are still filled with blank pages, waiting to be written. Sometimes the only way to find ourselves is to come face to face with the fears tucked inside our hearts. And sometimes, only then can we soar and realize what it is we are running away from in the first place.