In her debut novel, Take Me Apart, Sara Sligar delivers a socially conscious, psychological thriller. Sligar contrasts the collective facets that make up a woman’s life with the multiple roles they feel obligated to play, and the suffering it manifests. Sligar effectively translates topics such as depression and mental illness through a cast of captivating characters that draw us into the world of self-absorbed, career driven artists, and the various circumstances that disorient their lives.
Sligar introduces readers to Katie, a journalist turned archivist, hired to catalog the late Miranda Brand’s vast collection of personal papers and artistic works. In the process Kate falls for Theo, Miranda’s son. She becomes obsessed with the notion she can solve the mystery that surrounds his mothers’ death by uncovering new evidence. In a paradoxical twist, Kate discovers that much like herself, Miranda dealt with depression and mental illness through much of her life. As Kate unravels the mountain of information surrounding Miranda’s career and personal life, she attempts to work through the challenges she is faced within her own life.
Sligar’s style reminds me faintly of Peter Swanson’s psychological thrillers. Kate and Miranda are smart and unique, endowed with whip-smart dialogue, ‘Of course the fans “want it”…. But I won’t cater to them…I’m not a stock option. I’m not publicly held’ ( p. 15). I love that Miranda’s character refuses to conform. She is dedicated to marching to the beat of her own drummer, despite the difficulties it causes others. I found Kates’ character, to be universal. She was attempting to recreate her life after a devastating professional loss. Putting the pieces back together is something we can all identify with on some level.
Take Me Apart is aptly titled as it examines both women as a total sum of their parts. In doing so Sligar explores a multitude of social and psychological issues that a wide audience of readers will find very relatable. Sligar’s willingness to incorporate these topics within her prose, helps to expand the conversation about these important concerns.
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