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Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
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Imagine Me Gone (original 2016; edition 2016)

by Adam Haslett (Author)

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7414823,236 (3.64)39
When Margaret's fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. What follows 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, and the story of how, over the span of decades, his younger siblings-the responsible Celia and the tightly controlled Alec-struggle along with their mother to care for Michael's increasingly troubled existence.… (more)
Member:Katie-Bell-Moore
Title:Imagine Me Gone
Authors:Adam Haslett (Author)
Info:Little, Brown and Company (2016), Edition: First Edition, 368 pages
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Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett (2016)

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» See also 39 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
This is a sad story. It is from different point of views of members of a family. The father is mentally ill and cannot shake it off. He tries over his life but he has to be hospitalized several times and his wife and kids are left to make it through plus take care of him. One of the children inherits mental illness. The reader gets to hear what it's like for the person enduring the mental pain and from those who deal with their lives being turned around repeatedly because of their family member. It's no fun for anyone involved. There's lots of love and tough decisions. This story is well-rounded, adding in everyone's regular issues too. It's a great book for those that want to see how hard life is for people in these situations. ( )
  ToniFGMAMTC | Feb 17, 2021 |
Loved this book. How it didn't win the Pulitzer is beyond me. Excellent characterization. Felt like I was an invisible character watching the scenes unfold. Highly commend. ( )
  3CatMom | Dec 28, 2020 |
3.5 stars ( )
  snakes6 | Aug 25, 2020 |
Finished it, but wish I hadn't. ( )
  shum57 | Jul 22, 2019 |
On the surface, this might appear to be just another story of a middle-class American family, but this book has a lot more to recommend it than that. The core of the story is about the effects of mental illnesses and the drugs that are used to treat them. There are also a lot of musical and literary reference points, and a lot of humour.

The book opens at a crisis point involving two brothers staying in a remote cabin on the Maine coast, whose context becomes clear towards the end of the book. The rest of the book is told chronologically over a period of over 25 years. Each chapter is told by a first person narrator (in my edition these were all named in the chapter headings, but I have heard that in others some of the chapters including the opening one were not), and different members of the family add context and variety.

There are five main characters, the parents John and Margaret and their children Michael, Celia and Alec. John is British, and has a good job as a venture capitalist, but suffers occasional episodes of debilitating mental illness. In a key chapter of this section that prefigures later events, John takes the two younger children out on a boat, and challenges them to imagine that he is dead and they have to fend for themselves. The first part of the book is largely about the effect of this on each of the children.

The central figure in the rest of the story is Michael, who is haunted by his father and wants to protect the family, but has mental issues of his own and becomes dependent on prescription drugs which eventually make it impossible for him to lead a normal life. Much of the humour on the book comes from his writing, for example a series of letters he writes on the family's transatlantic sea voyage which gradually become a bizarre fantasy, and allows Haslett to explore his other obsessions: music, literature and the history of black America. Another major subplot is the story of Alec, the youngest child, and his struggles to reconcile the family and his gay lifestyle.

For me, the first and last sections were brilliant and moving, but the narrative lost momentum in the middle and was too long. Given the nature of the core story, it was always going to be impossible to give each of the characters equal weight, but Margaret seems to exist largely as a focal point for the family's suffering, and Celia also seems less fully realised. ( )
  bodachliath | Apr 3, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 48 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Adam Haslettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hayes, KeithCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Perhaps all music, even the newest, is not so much something discovered as something that re-emerges from where it lay buried in the memory, inaudible as a melody cut in a disc of flesh. - Jean Genet
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For Tim
First words
As I stepped out of the cabin, whiteness blinded me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When Margaret's fiancé, John, is hospitalized for depression, she faces a choice: carry on with their plans, or back away from the suffering it may bring her. She decides to marry him. What follows 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, and the story of how, over the span of decades, his younger siblings-the responsible Celia and the tightly controlled Alec-struggle along with their mother to care for Michael's increasingly troubled existence.

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