Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter is a book about the unexpected.
Andrea thinks she knows all the pieces there are to her mother, Laura. Laura is the safe, calm presence in Andrea’s life. The relationship is somewhat fraught, as Laura worries about 31-year-old Andrea’s continued shiftlessness, but still it’s a relationship of love.
All of those feelings change one day when a gunman opens fire at the diner where Andrea and Lauren are eating. In a strange show of cat-like ninja skills, her mother manages to overcome the gunman. Suddenly, Andrea doesn’t know this woman standing before her.
From there, Andrea leaves her proverbial Hobbit hole at home to run away from the danger that her mother knows is coming to visit them. Unfortunately Andrea manages to run right into danger.
But she also runs into the story of her mother’s past. All of these pieces that she thought she knew of her mother are a carefully constructed lie. Underneath the pretty structure she’s built of their lives is a dark and crumbly foundation.
Pieces of Her takes its time with the mystery.
It gives us a chance to live with Andrea for a bit and be on the run with her. We also really settle into Lauren’s past and the strong strong pull of it. Strangely though, I don’t feel like I get to know adult Andrea or Lauren very well, beyond the tense mother/daughter dynamic.
The only character I felt that I really knew it was Jane from the flashbacks. For a book of that length, I wish I could know and feel and empathize with and walk inside the skin of these adults characters who are with us in the present parts of the book. Instead, I felt more in tune with the characters from the flashbacks.
The book also leans on one of my oft-mentioned cringy devices: the Scooby-Doo climax. This is an author’s way to wrap up loose ends and explain the mystery to us. Imagine a big chase scene, then, in the middle, the villain stops and explains in great details every hoodwink, every bamboozle, every switcheroo. At one point, a villain even says, “Ask me another question, kid.”
Pieces of Her offers a compelling premise, though. Do we really know those people with whom we are closest? Do they really know themselves? With two disparate identities, which one is real?
Pieces of Her
Published August 2018
Music credit: Wistia
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