From a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, a ferociously intimate story of a family facing the ultimate question: How far will we go to save the people we love the most?
When Margaret's fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression in 1960s London, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans despite what she now knows of his condition, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. Imagine Me Gone is the unforgettable story of what unfolds from this act of love and faith. At the heart of it is their eldest son, Michael, a brilliant, anxious music fanatic who makes sense of the world through parody. Over the span of decades, his younger siblings - the savvy and responsible Celia and the ambitious and tightly controlled Alec - struggle along with their mother to care for Michael's increasingly troubled and precarious existence.
Told in alternating points of view by all five members of the family, this searing, gut-wrenching, yet frequently hilarious novel brings alive with remarkable depth and poignancy the love of a mother for her children, the often inescapable devotion siblings feel toward one another, and the legacy of a father's pain in the life of a family.
With his striking emotional precision and lively, inventive language, Adam Haslett has given us something rare: a novel with the power to change how we see the most important people in our lives.
©2016 Hachette Audio (P)2016 Adam Haslett
"Spectacular.... You should buy this book, you should read it, and you should admire it.... [It] is the herald of a phenomenal career." (The New York Times Book Review)
"Exceedingly well written...a high-spirited, slyly astute exploration of our great bottoming out." (The Boston Globe)
"Haslett possesses a rich assortment of literary gifts: an instinctive empathy for his characters and an ability to map their inner lives in startling detail; a knack for graceful, evocative prose; and a determination to trace the hidden arithmetic of relationships." (New York Times)
As part of a family with a long history of mental health issues, I was attracted to the premise of this book and persuaded by the mostly positive reviews. Unfortunately this book fails on every level. I can guarantee the discerning reader this: that the promise in the publisher's summary that this "searing, gut-wrenching, yet frequently hilarious novel brings alive with remarkable depth and poignancy the love of a mother for her children, the often inescapable devotion siblings feel toward one another, and the legacy of a father's pain in the life of a family." is the only delusion to be found here.
The depiction of mental illness and depression in the book seems to far more a product of vague internet research into the topic and is completely ludicrous and unrealistic, particularly the portrayal of Michael. I highly doubt the author has any real experience with anyone with depression or mental illness.
The most important part of a novel is its characters, and "Imagine Me Gone" presents a cast of cardboard cutout characters that at best are boring and cliched and at worst unlikeable. The author gives you nothing to hang onto or care about with these characters - particularly those who you are supposed to care about most as the story lurches constantly forward both in time and to other people's perspectives. Michael, the mentally ill son of a father who committed suicide - is supposed to be the centrepiece of the story - yet he is by far the most annoying and unrealistic character in the book.
Sex scenes - before reading the book, I noticed a few comments amongst reviewers expressing disapproval of the sex scenes in the book. I dismissed these people as prudes, but having now read the book, I can only agree with them. The issue with the sex scenes is not that they are graphic or tasteless (although I am sure many would say they are) - but that they are completely unnecessary to the story. Michael's brother is gay. Unfortunately, rather than supplying just enough information for the reader to gain this information, the author bludgeons the reader over the head with terribly cliched and graphic sex scenes that serve absolutely no point in moving the story forward. Even the device of Michael's brother being gay has no relevance to the story - its just like the author tossed it in to make sure he was including a "cutting edge" character in the story.
If you want to read a realistic account of depression and mental illness read William Styron's "A Darkness Visible" or "An Unquiet Mind" by Kay Redfield Jamison or "The Quiet Room" by Lori Schiller.
It seems to me that the author tried to cobble together a story by cynically trying to add the "gritty realism" of suicide, mental illness, homelessness, unemployment and a random, unnecessary side-story involving a gay brother with the hope of writing something confronting and modern. Instead he has written a meandering, boring and unrealistic mess.
I hated virtually every sentence, paragraph and page of "Imagine Me Gone".
enjoyed this on my long drives- cars are boring and this novel was deeply moved me exploring mental illness and how it effects those closest
Excellent narrators. They did a great job of conveying the current mindset of the characters, which changes throughout the book (example: Michael on meds and off meds). The narrators didn't sound like they were reading at all.
A sense of melancholy and foreboding pervades this book, which is primarily what held my interest—the knowledge that something bad will happen, but having yet to discover what, when, how, and why. The writing is strong. I especially liked that the story is told through the alternating points of view of the different family members; an interesting and effective approach, particularly in this case, as it enables the reader to see how the circumstances affect each family member, in turn. I'm not sure I can say I "enjoyed" it per se—this book addresses mental illness and the toll it takes on the victim and everyone close to that person, so although enlightening, it's also quite depressing. Well done, but unless someone is seeking to understand what people suffering from mental illness go through, to "walk a mile in their shoes," I don't know that I would go out of my way to recommend it.
Michael's episodes and musings come off as comical and almost cute because they are told from his perspective, so the grave reality of a scary, debilitating disease that is causing these episodes really snuck up on me unexpectedly as the story unfolded. By the last few chapters, I was really wondering how it all was going to end. The end wasn't swimming in grief, it wasn't cathartic, it was almost numb. Michael's death is almost like still birth, ache and worry through gestation and pregnancy, but at the end one lays empty handed in the maternity ward.
I'm glad Alec had Seth. It was hard to listen to their first night after their date. The tension and mental battle one has with oneself to let go and let another person in, it's so familiar, even if I am not a man or a homosexual. For some reason this is my favorite part of the book. I reached this part only a couple days after the Orlando attack, completely losing it part way through.
I am not quite sure I understand Celia. She wants Paul and everyone else to acknowledge her struggle the way she acknowledges it. Not sure why they stayed together and how they stayed together for so long. I don't think she ever acknowledged that her mother had to deal with her husband's illness and someone in the house had to stay strong, unwillingly becoming a bully at times. But in the end, her and Paul's relationship seem to mimic her parents'.
I will come back to this book again. I am sad it ended.
Yes, indeed. Listening to the different narrators really drove the story.
Alec. He reminds me of myself: youngest child and different yet headstrong. He tried his best to makes everything perfect despite the feeling of the world crashing around him.
No not that I recall.
Yes! This book moved my soul. Over the course of the 3 days it took to complete it, I laughed, cried and called my siblings to reminds them how much they are loved. I have also told my significant other how much he is loved. This story made me FEEL. It has been quite some time since a story invoked such a response from me.
I loved the characters in this book but I'm a little concerned of the way they expected Michael to stop medication without doctor's supervision. I just find it hard to believe that educated people would do that. However the author does a great job communicating how having to deal with a love one who has a mental illness makes you unaware of reality and denial takes over
I liked the ending a lot. Not Hollywood happy but satisfying nonetheless. I would definitely buy another book from this author. The narrators were excellent too.
I listened to the book, didn't hate it, but am not a big fan either. The characters are rather odd....but then maybe they are more "real" than I have experienced in my life circles. I didn't find myself anxious to get back to listening to it like I do with books I love.
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