cover image Please Stop Trying to Leave Me

Please Stop Trying to Leave Me

Alana Saab. Vintage, $18 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-0-593-68678-2

A lesbian woman grapples with her literary ambitions and deteriorating mental health in Saab’s engrossing debut. Norma, 27, believes she sees spiritual signs in Instagram ads about the value of “letting things go that no longer serve you,” which she interprets as messages from God that she should break up with her girlfriend. Her new therapist diagnoses her with a major depressive disorder and depersonalization and derealization disorder, the symptoms of which Norma calls her “oblivion.” The ensuing narrative forays into Norma’s tumultuous childhood, her past sexual relationships with men, and her uncertainty over whether to stay with her girlfriend. Saab achieves a sense of urgency in Norma’s stream-of-consciousness narration of her therapy sessions, and in her desire to finish her story collection after convincing an agent to take a look, but it’s sacrificed to the many pages of Norma’s rough-hewn manuscripts, which she submits to a creative writing class. Still, Saab deserves credit for her freewheeling accounts of her protagonist’s therapy sessions and for questioning what it means to heal. There’s promise in Saab’s affecting and singular exploration of a woman’s attempts to live and write with mental illness. Agent: Mina Hamedi, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (June)