Thank you NetGalley and Little, Brown and Company for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: May 3rd, 2016
Synopsis: 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.
As much as Imagine Me Gone is a thoughtful study of mental illness and the impact it has on family dynamics, it’s also a beautifully written story about the enduring love between five family members despite the difficulties they face through the years. Their story is told in turn by each character’s perspective. They’re all extremely complex and are brought vividly to life by Haslett. I did have a slightly tough time getting through Michael’s chapters though. His story is told through his fantasies and paranoid delusions, and while it makes his story deeply personal in one way, I’m not sure how much they actually advanced the story. This isn’t a fast-paced story filled with a lot of action but this doesn’t make it any less compelling. Haslett is an absolute genius at creating distinctive voices for each character and by the end of the book I felt as though I had met them all personally. You spend most of the book sharing their greatest worries and fears and then seeing their all too human reactions which will make you both cringe and emphasize. By the time I finished, my emotions were absolutely raw. But that’s a good thing. Imagine Me Gone is so rich in its complexity and humanity it will stay in your mind long after you’ve finished it. It’s a powerful and heartbreaking story that is a must read for anyone who has had to deal with mental illness in their lives.