Please Stop Trying to Leave Me

A Novel

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Pub Date Jun 25 2024 | Archive Date Jul 25 2024

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An "engrossing, affecting, and singular" (Publishers Weekly) debut novel about love, family, queerness, and losing your mind in the modern world.

While god is sending her signs through Instagram and Spotify demanding she break up with her girlfriend, Norma meets with a new therapist for one reason: she really needs to write again. With only one chapter missing in her manuscript, Norma is desperate to know if she needs to leave her girlfriend in order to write The Last Story. The new therapist diagnoses Norma with Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder, but Norma isn’t having it. It’s just Oblivion.

Haunted by SSRI side effects and life becoming less hazily fictional by the day, Norma has never felt crazier. Does anyone else see the world’s poorly crafted plotline? Like, who even wrote this story? Norma begins sharing her manuscript with her therapist, hoping to connect the dissociative dots once and for all—or at least enough so that Google ads stop giving her panic attacks. But soon Norma is questioning everything she’s ever believed about life, writing, and love. 

And then there’s Norma’s girlfriend, the one with a crack of light in her eyes. Could she be Oblivion’s antagonist, the manuscript’s savior? Or is she just a human? 

Told alternately through Norma's barely fictional fiction and her crackling stream of consciousness, Please Stop Trying To Leave Me is an honest, comedic, horrifying, and heart-wrenching story about existing in today’s world, challenging all we’ve been taught about the distance between fiction and reality, sanity and insanity, mental illness and healing.
An "engrossing, affecting, and singular" (Publishers Weekly) debut novel about love, family, queerness, and losing your mind in the modern world.

While god is sending her signs through Instagram and...

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ISBN 9780593686782
PRICE $18.00 (USD)

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Average rating from 23 members

Featured Reviews

Thank you NetGalley and Vintage Anchor Books for an advanced digital copy of Please Stop Trying to Leave Me.

Twenty-seven-year-old Norma suffered a nervous breakdown and is stuck in what she calls, “Oblivion.” Something she has experienced since she was a young girl. But Oblivion isn’t what brings Norma to a new therapist - She needs to write again, The Last Story to complete her manuscript. Should she listen to the supposed signs telling her to break up with her girlfriend? Will that help her finish her writing?

The line between fiction and reality becomes blurred, along with mental illness and state of mind while exploring the past. These pages bounce between Norma’s manuscript and therapy sessions, both of which are beautifully crafted. I love slow-burn, character-driven novels where you feel like you’re inside the mind of the narrator - And this reads like a lyrical stream of consciousness. Her unraveling became my unraveling, and I began to carry her trauma in my heart. The ending to this story is what truly got me.

I was thoroughly impressed with this debut novel as it encompassed a wide scope of topics and emotions. Family, love, relationships, mental health, trauma, societal issues and more that will take you on a rollercoaster ride of laughter, tears, and heartache. It was messy and realistic in a number of ways. You could tell that the author has a background in psychology AND is a very gifted writer.

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Norma has experienced 'oblivion' since she was a little girl. A moment where every living being disappears, leaving her with a blank, bald planet floating in a lifeless outer space. Now an adult, Norma finds herself explaining oblivion to her therapist, and how it relates to the novel she's having trouble writing, signs from god in her Instagram advertisements, and most importantly--her girlfriend, and how as much as she loves her, the universe seems to want Norma to break up with her.

'Please Stop Trying to Leave Me' is a messy book, and I mean that in the most loving, genuine way possible. Alana Saab provides an unfiltered look into the mind of someone who is dealing with severe anxiety, depression, trauma, all while trying to stay afloat in an era where too much information is available at your fingertips. It's not pretty, and Norma's instinct to push her girlfriend away is painfully real. If you've ever dealt with mental illness before, either yourself or from someone you love, you will probably see yourself reflected in this novel--doubly so if you're a queer millennial.

Despite the serious subject matter, 'Please Stop Trying to Leave Me' is hilarious. Norma's constant observations of her therapist's shoes and asymmetrical pillow arrangements led to some genuine laugh out loud moments for me. Saab's humor helps to relieve some of the painful sadness of the book, but not enough that the moments lose their punch.

Overall, this book is an ugly, beautiful, and most importantly sympathetic look at mental health, and one that I'll definitely find myself revisiting in the future.

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