North Shore author Lisa Barr debuts her novel The Unbreakables, a tale of a woman’s midlife rediscovery of her passion and spirit.
Anyone who has raised kids and found themselves alone in an empty nest has been there. That moment you realize you have a second chance to invent yourself. For Lisa Barr, fiction writing has long been a passion that was always simmering in the background while she worked as a career journalist and editor. “In a first grade essay, I said I wanted to be an author,” says Barr, whose latest, The Unbreakables (Harper Collins, $27), was released to the public in June. “I’ve had diaries my whole life. The only time I stop moving is when I am writing. That’s my happy place.”
The Unbreakables protagonist, the middle-aged North Shore resident Sophie Bloom, follows her protective instincts to nurse not just her own broken heart (her husband exposed as a serial cheater), but that of her daughter’s, in France. “She leaves everything behind,” says Barr of her main character. “This is really the first time in her life she’s stripped raw. She’s lost everything and it’s on this trip that she rediscovers herself, her sensuality and her passion as an artist.”
The fictional tale taps into real issues for midlife women. “While it’s sexy and beachy, there’s a serious tone I want women to connect to,” she says. Approaching 50 can be a fraught time. “It’s a moment in your life that’s an opportunity to remember who you are,” says Barr. “To understand your spirit is what is unbreakable.”
Acknowledging that writing can be an isolating activity, she takes advantage of North Shore cafes to do her work, with Highland Park’s That Little French Guy one of her current favorites. Would Sophie hang out there? “Sophie Bloom would be going to Bartaco in Deerfield, along with new restaurants in Highland Park and Northbrook,” she says. “There’s a lot of Sophie Bloom in me—through this book we were able to grow up together. I’m at my happiest point in my life.” lisabarr.com
Photography by: harper collins; Portrait by tell draper