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Publisher's Summary

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
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Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Brilliant, excruciating, a work of virtuosity

Imagine Me Gone is the work of a virtuoso. Told in the first person from the point of view of the five family members, Haslett brings the characters to life in such a way that one feels that they are witnessing to us, bringing one into their lives, and we are coming to understand the excruciating pain and devastation that mental illness has on a family. I laughed, I cried as well reading Haslett's rendering of these character's anguish, especially the scene at the end of the book when Michael is apologizing to Alec for going back to London and being a bad brother. There were so many well crafted scenes, great dialogue, page after page of piercing insight. Mental illness is pernicious. Hopefully the chemical imbalance can be regulated by pharmaceuticals. Blessed relief. Haslett relates the consequences in a clear and authentic way. The most gifted novel I have read, accurate, showing exactly the face of the monster and how it feels the pain and exhaustion. Better that any memoir or psych book. This is the story of a family in crisis dealing with it the best they can.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • J. Carter
  • Reidsville, NC United States
  • 07-27-17

Couldn't get through it

After trying twice with this book, I gave up a few chapters in. The endless narration with no action was so boring.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A melancholic foray into the world of mental illness

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.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Kimberly
  • Concord, CA, United States
  • 05-25-16

deeply moving

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

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • KM
  • 06-28-17

IMAGINE ME DONE

What did you like best about Imagine Me Gone? What did you like least?

I liked the different points of view of the story. What I liked the least was I was not able to engage with any of the characters

Would you recommend Imagine Me Gone to your friends? Why or why not?

No. I have listened and recommended far better stories than this one. Most of my friends like the same stories I do.

What about Ellen Archer and Robert Fass ’s performance did you like?

They were both very good. Best part of the book was the narration

Do you think Imagine Me Gone needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I don't think so. I wouldn't read it.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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okay story, good narration

The narrators were good. The story was a bit long and drawn out for my liking.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Graeme
  • Sydney, Australia
  • 01-04-17

Imagine Your Satisfaction Gone

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".

9 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Too grim!

Too much dysfunction. Enjoyed the writer's use of language. I didn't really care much about the characters and their anguish.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • katie
  • Prairie Village, KS, United States
  • 03-25-17

Narrator's performance is disappointing.

What otherwise would have been a great story is ruined by the almost intolerable whining voice of the narrator. I would have preferred to read rather than listen to this book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Janet
  • Butler, PA, United States
  • 09-16-16

Not my cup of tea.....

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful