Leah Stewart's first novel, Body Of A Girl, was a classical noir mystery about a Memphis crime reporter who investigates the murder of a woman about her age, and finds chilling similarities in their lives and proclivities. Her second book, The Myth Of You & Me, is more of a tear-jerking melodrama, but in many ways, it tells the same story. Stewart assumes the voice of Cameron, a thirtyish caretaker/assistant for an elderly academic. When her boss dies, he leaves Cameron with one final assignment: search for her former best friend Sonia, who betrayed her back in college and effectively shut her down emotionally. As Cameron drives from Mississippi to Boston, she remembers the myriad ways that she and Sonia were close as teenagers growing up in New Mexico, and she starts to see how their closeness made a breakup inevitable.
The Myth Of You & Me has been packaged like a fairly generic chick-lit novel, from the Melissa Bank-worthy cover to the website urging readers to send in their own "EBF" (ex-best friend) stories, and Stewart at times seems to be getting in her own way, writing gooey pop-psych lines like "I'm asking you, of all possible versions of your life, why have you chosen this one?" But though she stinks at sap, the talented writer behind Body Of A Girl re-emerges once her heroine starts investigating what's become of her old friend. Stewart describes a specific and queasily familiar kind of jealousy, as Cameron looks at pictures of a woman she hasn't seen in a decade, and wonders who all the people standing next to Sonia are, and whether they mean as much to her as Cameron once did.
In asking those little nagging questions, the book hits its stride. In investigating Sonia, Cameron gets mesmerized by forgotten fragments of her own past. What did she and Sonia talk about all the time? Did they really watch the same movies over and over? How could she have let someone so important disappear from her life? Stewart weaves vivid recollections of growing up in the southwest, going to college in the south, and becoming an adult in the northeast—stringing together the Taco Boxes, seafood restaurants, calls never placed, and letters never sent. Gradually, like Body Of A Girl, The Myth Of You & Me becomes less about a single missing person than about many missing pieces of people, and how they're made whole again.