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Pieces of Her

Review

Pieces of Her

Karin Slaughter’s PIECES OF HER opens with a scene that is all-too-familiar to viewers of the nightly news. Andrea (Andy) and her mom, Laura, are at the mall, sitting down for a cup of coffee and a brief chat with an acquaintance. In a moment, their whole world is shattered as a gunman comes in, murdering several people before coming face-to-face with Andy and her mom. Andy always wondered how she would act when faced with sheer terror like this. Apparently Laura never did, as she proceeds to take down the killer with a series of moves that seem taken from a special ops playbook. Laura is a speech pathologist, a cancer survivor, a suburban mom, for crying out loud. Is it possible that Andy never really knew her mom at all?

"PIECES OF HER is a well-plotted thriller, full of surprising developments and enough depth to keep readers both guessing and thinking."

Even more peculiarly, Laura seems to turn on Andy after the event, demanding that Andy --- who moved back to Georgia from New York City to care for Laura during her cancer treatments --- move out immediately, that Laura is tired of coddling her daughter. Perplexed and saddened, Andy tries to confront her mom, only to encounter a man who appears to be threatening her mom and demanding information she can’t provide. In the wake of more violence, Andy finds herself on the run, oddly provided for by Laura, who gives her a go bag, instructs her to flee to Idaho (by way of a well-appointed storage locker), and seems to have made extensive preparations for exactly this kind of desperate scenario.

As Andy’s road trip unfolds in the present day (literally --- the narrative opens on August 20, 2018), her odyssey is interspersed with events that unfolded more than 30 years earlier, before Andy’s birth, as a group of politically idealistic young people seek revenge on a greedy, unscrupulous health care company and its callous CEO.

It may take readers a couple of cycles to figure out the connections between the two narratives, but once they do, Slaughter’s novel opens up a whole host of themes and questions for them to consider. Is it really possible to start over? What is the difference between an activist group, a terrorist cell and a cult? What prompts people to tip over from political action to political violence? And --- most pressingly for Andy --- how much do we really know or understand about the people in our lives, even those we love the most?

As she tries to get to the bottom of Laura’s personal history --- and, by extension, her own origins --- Andy finds herself discovering a feeling of purpose and direction that she hasn’t felt in years, if ever. Perhaps this quest will show Andy a side of her mother that is unexpected, even unwelcome in some ways --- but maybe it also will show her a side of herself that she didn’t know existed. PIECES OF HER is a well-plotted thriller, full of surprising developments and enough depth to keep readers both guessing and thinking.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on August 24, 2018

Pieces of Her
by Karin Slaughter

  • Publication Date: August 21, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062430270
  • ISBN-13: 9780062430274