LEAVING by Roxana Robinson

Leaving by Roxana Robinson is a wrenching novel about a couple in their 60s who reconnect after having been involved in college. Sarah and Warren, who dated in their early 20s, broke up over what was basically a misunderstanding. They each married and had families, and decades passed. Forty years later, they cross paths at the opera and discover that they still have a connection. Leaving is about the rekindling of that connection and the ramifications it brings.

Why I picked it up: I read Robinson’s equally wrenching novel about addiction, Cost, many years ago (2009), and really liked it. This was a no-brainer for me.

Robinson is especially skilled at creating appealing, relatable characters and putting them in untenable situations. For Sarah and Warren, their love is deeply fulfilling, but the price to be together is a high one. Sarah has been divorced for many years, and her ex-husband is dead, but Warren is very much still married, with a daughter and a wife who do not accept his decision to separate. His daughter Kat puts him in the position of having to choose his own happiness or that of his family.  To reveal any more would spoil the novel. Toward the end, Robinson expertly tracks a dual narrative with Sarah and Warren each tending to their own families, detailing how their relationship has affected their lives and their futures.

I liked Leaving, despite it being painful and frustrating at times. I remember Cost being the same, even though it has been decades since I read it. I had a lot of empathy for everyone in both books, thanks to Robinson’s sensitive writing.

I read most of Leaving in print, but layered in the audiobook at the end. I highly do NOT recommend the audiobook – avoid at all costs.

Leaving was the 11th book of 2024 and satisfies the One Word Title category of the 2024 EDIWTB Reading Challenge.