In her first foray into adult fiction, best-selling young adult author Gayle Forman has written a book that every working mother will relate to. Maribeth Klein, adopted daughter, magazine editor and forty-four-year-old mother of twins, is working so hard trying to juggle all the pieces of her life that she doesn’t realize she’s having a heart attack. After open-heart surgery, she comes home to find that her family still expects her to keep running the household the same way she always did. Her mother has moved in to “help” but ends up acting more like a houseguest. Her husband, Jason, continues to put his work priorities first. And her children just don’t understand. “She was dancing on a surfboard, juggling knives, while they all went about business as usual.” So Maribeth, at the end of her rope, writes a note to her husband, packs a bag, and leaves. She empties her bank account, takes a train to Pittsburgh, and begins a search for her birth mother.
Maribeth’s departure is an astonishing act; it sort of took my breath away. Because sure, there have been days when I’ve entertained this kind of a fantasy – probably most working moms have — but we’d never actually do it. So it’s fun to live through Maribeth, witnessing all the conflicting emotions she faces in her escape: the relief, the freedom, the guilt. What will she do? She says her leave is temporary, but what if it ends up being permanent? Will it destroy her marriage? Will it scar her kids?
Forman really gets being a working mom. She nails all the details, all the emotions (especially the mom-guilt). She also shows us all the good that exists in people – that most of us really don’t mean to be jerks and do go out of our way to help one another. No matter how hard things get, Maribeth finds that she has friends in her corner when she least expects it. This is a fun, hopeful, relatable read, perfect for anyone who’s ever been a working parent.