You will have to suspend disbelief when you read “Leave Me,” young-adult writer Gayle Forman’s first novel for adults. But if you can swallow the often implausible plot, you’ll find the book to be entertaining and at times insightful.
As in Anne Tyler’s “Ladder of Years” and Rupert Thomson’s “Katherine Carlyle,” Forman’s novel is about a woman who walks away from her life.
Maribeth Klein is in her 40s, married, with two children and a high-pressure job at a slick New York magazine. She is so busy that when she suffers a heart attack she can scarcely be bothered to go to the doctor.
But eventually she lands in the hospital, and everything changes. Suddenly, she no longer thrives on nerves and chaos, resents her laid-back husband for not pitching in (and for being laid-back), grows frustrated with her children (and no wonder — one a crybaby, the other a diva) and is annoyed by her helpless mother (her adoptive mother, as it turns out). Off she goes, leaving computer and cellphone and credit cards and husband and children and problems behind. Goodbye, life. Off to Pittsburgh to find her birth mom!
Fortunately, she has money in the bank. Fortunately, she finds an apartment with a landlord who will accept cash. Fortunately, she finds a cardiologist who is working off the insurance grid. And fortunately, he is widowed and handsome.
Dropping everything, walking out, starting over is a common daydream (although in most such dreams one decamps for Paris, rather than Pittsburgh), and Forman’s novel is a gritty fairy tale. But as in every fairy tale, she taps into people’s fears and dreams, and she imparts a little wisdom along the way.
Laurie Hertzel is the senior editor for books at the Star Tribune. @StribBooks facebook.com/startribunebooks
By: Gayle Forman.
Publisher: Algonquin Books, 343 pages, $26.95.
Event: 7 p.m., Sept. 22, Barnes & Noble, Galleria, Edina