In 1960s London, Margaret’s fiancé, John is hospitalised for depression. At this point she has two choices; stay, get married and carry on with life together knowing what she knows, or leave to help prevent any heart ache and suffering, his condition may cause.
She decides to stay and this is where the story starts. The pair go on to have three children; Michael, who copes with life through his music and his use of parody; Alec; the smart son who is a high achiever and is devoted to looking out for his family and Celia, the daughter who lives to help other people succeed.
The story follows the highs and lows of this family from Michael’s struggle to cope in the real world to Margaret’s love and affection for her children and her willingness to do anything to help them, especially her eldest, Michael.
Imagine me gone is a wonderfully-written, at times heart breaking story of a family who are haunted by mental illness and their struggle to survive.
The topic of mental illness and especially depression is a difficult one to cover. For many it is such a sensitive issue and so is not written so much in books until recently. Adam Haslett has succeeded at an impossible task of portraying mental health in a sensitive, sombre way without completely lowering the morale of the whole book.
For other characters, such as Celia, her experience with mental illness pushed her to help other people and to do good in the world, whilst Alec strove to succeed in life with his career. Each member of the family has his or her own coping method whether it is to deal with their own mental health or to cope with the mental illnesses of those surrounding them.
This novel is a bitter-sweet portrayal of how a family can be brought together and pulled apart by such illnesses as depression and the numerous ways people react to it.
(Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett was published on 30th June 2016 by Hamish Hamilton.)
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