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Imagine Me Gone

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  16,314 ratings  ·  2,131 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Little, Brown and Company
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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  16,314 ratings  ·  2,131 reviews

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Jun 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars

As someone who has dealt with mental illness in his family, I found Imagine Me Gone so honest and redemptive. Adam Haslett confronts the tough questions that come with loving someone in pain: how much do you try to save someone before you have to let them save themselves? How do you act with compassion when it feels like everyone needs more than you had to begin with? Where do you draw the line between wanting someone to live for your own sake instead of their own? These questions and m
Diane S ☔
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Anyone one who has any type of mental illness, or who has a family member or friend who has struggled with one knows how pervasive it is. All consuming, bigger than life itself, so it is not surprising that this book is very difficult to read, disturbing and heartbreaking. Yet, the author does a wonderful job explaining not only the inner life of the sufferer but giving voice to all family members. He treats his characters, with insight, respect and compassion.

Michaels story is the most impactf
Elyse  Walters
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Update: 4/20/16 I wrote this review yesterday. I'm still thinking about this family -and the challenges they lived with. After talking to a friend about a disturbing scene-- I have chosen to 'update' this review --to give a 'warning'.
I don't want to give spoilers --but I think its fair to say --that this book might not be the best choice if you are living with a loved one who is very depressed, or suffers with a mental illness.
That said....its an insightful book -well written-much compassion..
5ish stars.

What a quietly devastating book. It's written so naturally, just following the lives of its characters over decades without seeming like it's trying to make a statement or push an agenda. Haslett does not shy away from asking some tough questions and doesn't give easy answers. He brilliantly explores the themes of the novel for which mental illness is more of a catalyst than a direct focus.

Each of the characters in the five member family who the novel revolves around is as human as
Imagi e Me G ne by Adam Haslett is a 2016 Little, Brown and Company publication.

Once more I have chosen a book that is pretty far outside of my normal reading range, continuing on my quest to expand my reading habits a little.

I had NO idea what to expect, really, but this novel is truly remarkable in its unflinching portrait of a family coping with mental illness.

When Margaret marries John she is fully aware of his bouts with depression, these ‘episodes’ he has, but she is in love with him and
Apr 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: family, mental health,
This should be a terribly depressing book, but it seems to be written with such affection for the characters who all loved each other, that I cared about them and the places they went. Lots of walks, seeing scenery that included mushrooms, “those extraordinary zigzags of brown crescents wending their way up the bark of the older trees like staircases for the Lilliputians.”

We’re introduced to two generations of a family dealing with anxiety and depression (“the monster”, as the father calls it:
Aug 09, 2016 added it
Shelves: fiction
The Hook Many fine reviews from my GR friends, I saw this book everywhere. When it was on sale in e-book format I jumped at the opportunity to join the fans.

The Line Interestingly I did not highlight one word in this book.

The Sinker – More was promised than delivered. This is a difficult statement for me to make about a book that has garnered such high praise. I liked it. I didn’t love it. Though well written, Imagi*e Me Go*e left me with little emotional impact. Depression and mental illness a

(Full disclosure: book abandoned at page 57 [out of 357 pages].)

This book starts with a contemplative tone but is quickly plagued by pages of dragging exposition. Haslett structured his narrative from different viewpoints, with each chapter narrated by a different character from a single family. The focus in the early pages is mostly on the father, John, a reserved man who’s struggled with mental illness but seems to be managing well at this point.

Characters are mildly interest
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
5 stars

I guess I'm going to have to adjust my "Best Novels of 2016" list...

What kills me is I had Adam Haslett's Imagine Me Gone on my e-book queue for well over six months. Even after the announcement of its inclusion on the National Book Award shortlist, even after reading slobbery reviews of it (particularly the one in the NY Times), even after my trusted friend Julie gave Haslett's short story collection You Are Not a Stranger Here a glowing 5-star review here on Goodreads, I steadfastly ke
Debbie "DJ"
Apr 25, 2016 rated it liked it
I've put off writing this review for far too long, because I just don't know what to say. It did draw me in at the beginning, but then kept me at a distance from the characters.

In the story, a fathers mental illness is passed to one of the sons, and is told through his eyes. While this gave me an inside look at the thoughts and actions of one with such an illness, it also distanced me from the deeper emotions of the family. I was left with a feeling of this is what happened. For me, I really mi
Larry H
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
How much are we willing to sacrifice to help those we love? Are we willing to put aside our own happiness for a fleeting chance at saving another?

When Margaret learns that her fiancée John has been hospitalized for depression, it throws her completely. This is 1960s London and she is a transplanted American, in love with John's professional and public steadfastness and his emotional vulnerability when the two are alone. She knows she must make a choice: should she support John through his time o
Jun 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2017
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. Th
A very difficult read about mental illness. I had to skim over certain parts due to the manic dialog at times. Wonderful writing, however, for this Pulitzer Prize finalist.

3 out of 5 stars
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
As much as Imagine Me Gone is about the ravages of mental illness, it's also about the deep love between parents and children, and between siblings. Which made for a very sad book, but also a deeply moving reading experience -- especially the end. There is no great suspense to this book, but it's best for me not to reveal too much and for readers to experience the story as it unfolds. In very broad strokes, Margaret marries John in the 1960s knowing that John suffers from bouts of profound depre ...more
I didn't finish this book, so I'm not going to give it a rating, but I really didn't like it.

At all.

It could be that I'm not smart enough for this novel. It could be I'm not dumb enough for it. It could be that I'm not sympathetic enough, or enlightened enough, or flexible enough, to enjoy this novel.

I don't know what the case is, but I got to 51% and I just couldn't take any more.

The characters are completely self-absorbed and one-note. The narrative is so convoluted I'm still not sure what was
Mental illness plagues two generations of an Anglo-American family in Haslett’s moving second novel. Narration duties are split between the five members: father John, mother Margaret, and siblings Alec, Michael, and Celia. By giving each main character a first-person voice, Haslett offers readers a full picture of how mental illness takes a toll not only on sufferers but also on those who love and care for them. John’s descriptions of what mental illness is like are among the most striking passa ...more
Adam Haslett has written a powerful book that stayed with me days...even after I finished reading it. Beautifully crafted, he tells the story of a family torn apart by mental illness. The choices the family makes have heart-breaking consequences. The descriptions of the main character's mental illness is vividly described and I found myself choking up from the anguish of his protagonist. I simply could not put the book down and I can't wait to read his next novel. Recommend to book clubs becaus ...more
Peter Boyle
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-reads-2017
Why I am so drawn to sad stories? Of all the novels that I read, it is the ones full of tragedy that I remember - their sentences rattle around in my head for months and cause me to well up at the most random moments. Imagine Me Gone is one such book, a real heartbreaker.

At the beginning, we meet Alec, who has been staying at a Maine cabin with his older brother Michael. The details are still unclear, but it is obvious that something has gone wrong. We then flash back to when the pair were much
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Having had the privilege of translating Haslett's book into Greek, I'd begin by saying that it is emphatically not an easy read. And not because of the seemingly obvious reason of its subject, but rather for the opposite: the fact that mental illness and suicide are not straightforward calamities, evolving (or devolving) in the rational, causal manner one unfamiliar with suffering of them might imagine.

Mental illness is a tangle of thorns within a tangle of thorns: a complex, burdensome life wi
Aug 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-fiction
“Imagine Me Gone” will be on many “Best of 2016” book lists. This amazing read illustrates how mental illness is exhausting, time consuming, and financially devistatiing for the friends and families of those sufferers. Mental illness affects not just the ones who have the illness; mental illness affects the sufferer’s loved ones as well. Although the subject matter is depressing, author Adam Haslett adds laugh-out-loud humor to balance the read, to make it more readable.

The novel begins at the e
Lolly K Dandeneau
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"The beast is a projector too, every day throwing up before me pictures of what I'm incapable of."

This novel made me catch my breath. Every reader experiences a story differently, especially when the fiction is close to realities they have lived or witnessed. Anyone having dealt with mental health issues will feel a deeper pain for the characters- every single one of them. Every person in the novel has a pain that is rightfully their own. Such pain doesn't require permission, it is like another
Maria Espadinha
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Weighting Game

We all know that the moment we say "I love you" to someone, that sentence will be fatally tested!

Therefore... when Margaret knew about John's ( her fiancé ) depression, she had to weight her love for him, against his mental illness.
Love was a winner, which led to marriage and a family.
But Michael (their eldest son) inherited his father's mental issues, and the fact made quite an impact in all family members, which meant hey all had to proceed with the weighting game!...
How woul
Mar 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Adam Haslett puts words to depression unlike any other author. He manages to capture the heaviness of family life in the same way he uplifts the beauty of that community. This book represents the communion between characters just as much as it cares to commune with the reader. I felt so deeply for Michael and Alec and Celia and Margaret; it is just as much, if not even moreso, their story as it is John's, despite his absence for most of the book. Life is messy and often unresolved but we trudge ...more
Apr 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[4+] Imagine Me Gone, about the toll of mental illness on a family, crept up on me gradually. I probably would have abandoned it after a few dozen pages if not for Haslett's wonderful writing. Page by page, I become more involved with each family member until they all felt like family to me. This is a heartbreaking and loving novel. ...more
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I could NOT put this book down! I laughed , I cried, I sobbed. . . This story, these characters will stay with me for a very long time.

I felt Celia’s portrayal of a social worker was spot on, and I personally learned so much from her. I learned so much from this family!

This book is nothing short of brilliant. . . I LOVED it !!!!❤️
Jun 17, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
John. Margaret. Michael. Celia. Alec. This is our family of five, amidst which a gene has been passed. Each is given a voice to express his or her perspective on the struggle of living with severe anxiety and depression - whether as one who suffers, or one who has been given no choice but to strive to create a functional existence amid the fallout. This is, many days, an impossible task. Even in imagination.

What do you fear when you fear everything? Time passing and not passing. Death and life.
Lee Klein
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy via a Goodreads giveaway and I knew the author a bit when we both lived in Iowa City ten or eleven years ago. The fractured structure reflects the fractured family and the difficulties communicating and helping each other heal after a serious spoiler alert. The writing, particularly early on, is so solid, and it morphs to reflect each narrator, although maybe "narration" suggests description of external events instead of interiority? Multiple perspectives can be challenging sin ...more
Maria Espadinha
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Depression Sucks

This book starts slowly but as the story unfolds, it gains interest.

That quote from Tolstoi -- "every unhappy family is unhappy in its own special way" ( I added the "special" for a lil extra flavor 😉 ) popped in my mind, while reading it!
It's not new to watch depression in a family, as a dreadful source of unhappiness ☹️
But "every cloud has a silver lining" (it seems I'm in a quoting kind of mood...), and... on the plus side... it's bound to increase the love bondings between fa
Sep 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
4.5 stars - This is a heart breaking story of a family and their struggles to deal with mental illness. I listened to the audio and really enjoyed it.
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Where do I start! I decided to read this book after twice seeing it promoted ..somewhere... I can’t remember where, perhaps a newspaper or magazine, and also seeing one of my GR friends liking a review. I decided not to read anything on it... no summary of the story or any reviews and to just go into it blindly. That has proven to create a challenge.

This is a rather difficult read for a number of reasons. The book is about a family that faces its own challenges with mental illness, how they cop
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