by Gayle Forman
First sentence: “Maribeth Klein was working late, waiting to sign off on the final page proofs of the December issue, when she had a heart attack.”
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Review copy provided by the publisher.
Content: There’s a handful — maybe a dozen? — f-bombs as well as some other mild swearing. The subject matter is more mature, than Forman’s other books, and it’ll be in the adult fiction section of the bookstore.
Maribeth figures she’s living the life: she’s got a Great Editing Job at a fashion magazine, she’s got a beautiful pair of twins (that she and her husband were happy to have). She’s managing to juggle work, parenting, home life, a marriage. It’s what women are Supposed To Do, right? Then, at age 44, she has a heart attack. It sends her into a spiral, first because she’s trying to heal and no one’s giving her the support she wants/needs, and then because she just can’t seem to Care anymore. So she does what so many overworked women dream of doing: she leaves.
Nominally, she heads to Pittsburgh because, being adopted, she doesn’t know her genetic history and she is looking for her birth mother. But really, her life is too much for her to handle and she wants to try something else on for a change. She goes cash-only, she sheds her name, she wants to start over. And it seems that’s what she needs: through making new friends, taking a step away from everything, she figures things out.
When I first started this, I thought it would completely wreck me. Being an overworked and underappreciated working mother is something I definitely can identify with. But, rather than finding it difficult to get through, I found myself drawn into Maribeth’s story, her history, her fears and hopes, and the ways in which she was carrying her grief and anger. I was pulled into the characters that Forman created for Maribeth to befriend in Pittsburgh. I appreciated that everyone was complex and multi-faceted; no one was wholly in the wrong, including Maribeth herself.
I truly enjoyed it, which is unusual for me when it comes to adult books. Perhaps it’s because Forman is generally a YA writer, and this just felt like a more mature YA — a focus on character and moving the plot forward, rather than just pages and pages of, well, boring drivel. Either way, this is definitely one to check out.