Kate is an archivist, breaking down and rebuilding the life of esteemed photographer Miranda Brand. As she takes on this heady task she loses her grip on reality, obsessively trying to piece together scraps of clues to almost fabricate something larger surrounding Miranda's death. Sligar's novel is one of suspense and intrigue, but more importantly it reset's the narrative or women's mental health and credibility in their work.
I loved the novel's commentary on art and photography, and thought the current running through the book comparing Kate and Miranda's unraveling mental health to the act of archiving was brilliant.— Christy
A young archivist’s obsession with her subject’s mysterious death threatens to destroy her fragile grasp on sanity, in a riveting debut novel of psychological suspense
When the famed photographer Miranda Brand died mysteriously at the height of her career, it sent shock waves through Callinas, California. Decades later, old wounds are reopened when her son, Theo, hires the ex-journalist Kate Aitken to create an archive of his mother’s work.
From Miranda’s vast maze of personal effects, Kate pieces together a portrait of a vibrant artist buckling under the pressures of ambition, motherhood, and marriage. As the summer progresses, Kate navigates vicious local rumors and her growing attraction to the enigmatic Theo, all while unearthing the shocking details of Miranda’s private life. But Kate has secrets of her own, and when she stumbles across a diary that may finally resolve the mystery of Miranda’s death, her curiosity starts to spiral into a dangerous obsession.
With breathtaking and haunting imagery, Take Me Apart paints a vivid picture of two magnetic young women, separated by years, but bonded by shared struggles. Sara Sligar draws readers into a web of secrets and lies, alternating between the present and the past and revealing the truth about Miranda’s death through the objects she left behind. A brilliant take on art, illness, and power, from a fresh, seductive new voice in suspense.
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"Kate and Miranda are vividly rendered, and an entire novel could easily be crafted out of Miranda's fascinating diary, letters, and other ephemera, snippets of which are sprinkled liberally throughout. Sligar delivers an intriguing mystery while tackling big themes, especially sexism and the societal restraints placed on women's bodies and minds. The results are spellbinding. A raw and sophisticated debut."
—Kirkus, starred review
“What a clever, visceral thriller. A raw, unfiltered twist on gaslighting that challenges how society treats women. It made me sad, angry, and fired up.”
—Araminta Hall, author of Our Kind of Cruelty
"A perceptive debut . . . Alternating between chapters focusing on Kate and epistolary documents by the tormented Miranda, Sligar reveals Miranda’s unraveling throughout her brilliant career as she labors with parenthood and life with a manipulative husband . . . Sligar shows off a keen ear for dialogue . . . With a cool style and fast pace, Sligar achieves a propulsive exploration of these ambitious women’s inner turbulence in response to an abusive man in each of their lives.”
"Take Me Apart is a stunning debut. In gorgeous prose, Sara Sligar creates a haunting and decidedly feminist literary thriller that explores mental illness, violence, and the nature of obsession. I loved this novel so much that I blew off all my responsibilities, turned off my phone, and blistered through the whole thing in one sitting. Unforgettable and thought-provoking, Take Me Apart has my highest recommendation."
—Angie Kim, author of Miracle Creek
"Take Me Apart is an ambitious, intelligent, and ridiculously readable literary thriller that takes on art, sexism, violence, and mental illness—all set against an evocatively rendered Northern Californian landscape. I've lived in the Bay Area for a decade, and though I was quite certain the book's California town was made up, I still googled "Callinas," just in case. That's how good Sara Sligar is."
—Rachel Khong, author of Goodbye Vitamin
“Take Me Apart is such a delicious novel: perfectly plotted, atmospheric, disturbing, sad—even sexy. Sara Sligar brings both the northern California coast and the personal history of a brilliant artist to vivid life. I couldn't put it down.”
—Lydia Kiesling, author of The Golden State
“A smart, post-modern book that takes on the complexities of gendered mental illness and trauma at an engrossing clip. With a complicated visual artist at its narrative center, Take Me Apart teases out the tensions of visibility and fame versus the hidden, unseen wounds of home and interiority, and asks the hard questions of what it means to create as a woman—create art, create life, and create yourself.”
—Caite Dolan-Leach, author of Dead Letters
"Sara Sligar’s obsession-worthy debut combines the penetrating insight of the best art criticism with the seductive menace of a modern Gothic romance. Take Me Apart is my favorite kind of thriller: masterfully paced and psychologically precise, with subtle twists that reveal themselves like a developing photograph."
—Layne Fargo, author of Temper