“Everything would be so much simpler if her own life had a series of typed note-cards. She could remove the chapters that haunted her and tear them into little pieces.”In her Skin by Alex Kiester
Authors are great with words. Weaving words upon words they create a world of their own. They touch readers’ hearts with mere words on paper. But as they try to interact with their readers directly, the same words suddenly seem to fail them…
Author Meggie Meyer is no different. She spends five years writing her debut novel. Yet it doesn’t take her five minutes to freak out as she hears about her book tour. Appearing before a hall full of strangers bombarding her with questions—the thought is enough to give her panic attacks.
So, she comes up with a brilliant plan. She hires an actress, Sloan Buchanan, to impersonate her for her book tour. It’s dangerous. But Meggie has everything planned. Sloan’s impressive acting skills will allow her to sink deeply into Meggie as though she were a character. They won’t ever be caught.
But then, how easy it is to see someone else take the credit of your years of hard work? Which is harder—facing your anxiety of public appearance or watching someone live your life better than you ever did?
“Tangled up in each other, it was hard to tell where Meggie ended and where Sloan began.”
A Tale of Three Women
Three female characters drive the plot of the story. They belong to three different worlds which aren’t meant to cross paths. But a missing report brings them all together.
Meggie Meyer is the author who can’t bear to go on her own book tour. Sloan Buchanan is the actress Meggie hires to impersonate her. And Detective Rachel Drake pushes her limits to search for the missing Sloan.
Meggie is a talented yet soft-spoken woman. She is struggles with self-doubt over almost everything— confrontations, driving her car, meeting new people, expressing her true emotions, and of course, public speaking. She even gets panic attacks while talking to someone over the phone. At times, anxiety even takes control of her life.
“Thursday evening arrived and with it a major panic attack…she’d condemned herself to spend an entire day with a series of strangers. It was her worst nightmare.”
Sloan is the exact opposite of Maggie. She is cheerful, fun-loving, bold and full of life. Sloan loves the spotlight and the attention of the audience. She isn’t afraid of her true emotions. She isn’t afraid to express her feelings. And, above all, Sloan is a brilliant actress. She blends herself completely with the character while acting. She is evidently the perfect counterpart of Meggie. Or is she?
“Sloan has a secret. Something none of these people know. Something they could only sense.”
Rachel Drake is the no-nonsense detective—treasure for her department, nightmare for her enemies. She wants everything to be perfect and hates it when it doesn’t. After being a detective for a long time, Rachel doesn’t trust anyone. She is even hard on her partner in the case, just because he is a ‘newbie’. As strong a woman as she is, Rachel hides a plethora of emotions within her. And she hates it when someone sees right through her tough exterior.
“Rachel felt in her gut what she was saying was true…the missing piece of the puzzle had finally clicked into place.”
All the women are but tied together by one single thread—they are all fighting a battle of their own. A battle unknown to the world outside. A battle they can only feel in their hearts. A battle they reveal only to the readers, chapter by chapter.
Anxiety plays a major role in the story. It’s there almost as a character—invisible but always present. It’s the invisible force that strangles Meggie every single moment. It threatens her, tortures her and takes away a part of her, bit by bit every day. And yet, the world has no idea.
The story traverses deep down Meggie’s thoughts and brings out her stifling relationshop with anxiety. It has everything—the pounding heart, the panic attacks, the guilt trips, the averting eyes and the ‘one small embarrassing moment’ with the power to ruin a perfect day with its constant repetition.
Everyone who has met with anxiety at least once in their life, will be able to relate to what Meggie goes through. The novel has expressed her pains and feelings in perfect tones. Kiester has found the perfect words to explain how anxiety truly feels.
“She felt the familiar fluttering of a panic attack as if she were a balloon untethered, spiralling into an endless sky. It was the odd sensation of falling up.”
The plot takes a backseat in this novel, as the characters hold the steering wheel. The narration is entirely character-based. It lets the central characters speak through their minds and drag the plot along with it.
Kiester also employs the stream of consciousness technique. It is prominent in parts where it penetrates the mind of the protagonists and narrates the story by revealing their thought processes.
“And with that thought all of her adrenaline, all of her panic and guilt and fear transformed inside of her—all of it to rage.”
The narration merges the past with the present. The story of Maggie and Sloan are in the past; while the story of Rachel trying to solve the missing case is the present. Yet, Kiester manages to smoothly merge the two through rotating chapters. The past also chimes in when the characters wade through their memory lane.
The most attractive feature of the novel is that it’s an audiobook. The book went straight from written to spoken word and was performed by voiceover artists.
All the voice artists did a fabulous job in bringing out the true essence of the characters. Cassandra Campbell plays Meggie, Brittany Pressley plays Sloan and Bahni Turpin plays Rachel. Their unique voices perfectly matched the tone of the characters. Listening to the story through their voices made it come alive. It felt like a first-hand experience of hearing the story from the characters themselves as we are transported into the story in realtime.
The novel In her Skin explores the human mind while unravelling the web of secrets. It employs humour and a strong narrative technique to enter into the minds of the readers and conquer it. The book is bliss to all the lovers of mystery, psychology thrillers, detective fictions and the ones who are looking for innovation in novels.
“Sloan would reincarnate Meggie; bring back the woman she had been before she’d been broken. The woman she could have been…Sloan would give Meggie something she denied herself. Sloan would give her permission to live.”
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