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Gayle Forman's First Adult Novel Wrestles With Idea Of The 'Bad Mom'

Algonquin Publishing

Do you ever wonder what would happen if you drove past your exit on the highway, instead of going home to make dinner after work? Or what your destination would be, if you could just drop everything and head out on the road?

That’s the fantasy-turned-reality for the main character in Leave Me, the latest novel from bestselling author Gayle Forman.

Main character Maribeth Klein is a working mother of two, a career woman who has taken on so much that she doesn’t realize she’s suffered a heart attack. Her return home after bypass surgery is less than relaxing – so she leaves. And adventure ensues.  

Forman, who is perhaps best known for her work in the Young Adult genre, says this was the perfect story for her first foray into Adult Fiction.

Credit Algonquin Publishing

"I loved writing Young Adult, and I understood that many adults read it, as many young people read adult novels," Forman says. "But I wanted to write about marriage and motherhood, and there really was no way to do that with characters between the ages of 15 to 25, who were my usual characters, so I switched to people my own age."

Labels aside, Forman says this story will appeal to audiences who are interested in stories about a character's emotional journey. 

"[It's] what the kids in the YA world would call, 'all the feels!'" Forman jokes. 

"I think that I'm very interested in those moments in life when you understand, 'this is not the person I want to be,' or, 'I don't like where things are going,' and shake things up," she adds.

"Leave Me" also explores the modern trope of the 'bad mom.' Forman says she thinks there's a reason this concept is popping up across pop culture these days. 

"We have a ridiculous expectation of what a mom should be, and there's no way to fulfill it," she says. "We're human! And kids are giant pains sometimes! And we're all overextended and so busy."

"I'm really into the idea of the 'good enough mother,'" she explains. "It's this idea of, don't try and be a perfect mother - don't even try to be a 'good mother' - try to be a 'good enough' mother. By being flawed in front of your children and taking ownership of that, and apologizing when you screw up, that's actually a better model for how we want to parent - and how we want to exist - than making yourself crazy, and uptight, and miserable, and beating yourself up for every little misstep."

This piece was originally published September 20, 2016. 

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