Gayle Forman Brought All the Feels to SF (Event Recap)

#LeaveMe | September 15th, 2016

Gayle Forman found way to turn a lice epidemic into an equally empathetic and heartwarming story that will engage adult and YA readers alike. 

Adulting. Eventually we all have to do it and at some point, you'll wish you could run away from it. So when we had the chance to hear Gayle Forman speak about how she turned that experience into a relatable story, we had to be there. Right before release, we reviewed Leave Me, a novel slightly outside our YA comfort zone. Today we are here to share how Gayle's accompanying tour brought equal feels and some deep thinking about the changing pressures on women in today's society.

Moderating the discussion, YA author Jandy Nelson shared her reading experience with the audience. "I don't often have an experience where the book has felt even more than my own life. From the first page to the last, I was hooked and stayed up reading till 4am," Jandy illustrated. She went on to ask how a book about escape was different for Gayle, considering writing is her escape mechanism. "It was more like a revenge fantasy! I was on vacation, googling 'heart attack symptoms' because I was having chest pains. When I came home and saw the cardiologist, I wondered, 'What if I have to have this brutal surgery? Who will take care of the kids?' I'm the default parent. Who would take care of me? So I wrote 30 pages of a book about a woman who runs away from it all," Gayle shared.

On the differences in writing adult versus YA, Gayle had to distance herself from Maribeth so she wrote it in the third person (though she aligned with Adam from Where She Went). Jandy expressed that she had hoped for more sex, since this is an adult novel!
"If I Stay was very much me writing about being young and falling in love. Leave Me is the middle aged love story," Gayle shared, "I get accused of happy endings but I put my characters through a lot in the beginning!" Gayle expected people to hate Maribeth - and some did - but wonders why Maribeth wasn't able to go away and get people's understanding of what brings her to that point. The pair likened it to Hilary's recent health crisis and the way people responded - it's what women do. 

As for what's next, she couldn't say much but it is an YA novel. You can pick up most of Gayle's collection of books (plus Jandy's) to break your heart and put it back together again, which is available now (signed!) at Books, Inc


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