Karin Slaughter | Pieces of Her (Andrea Oliver #1)

The Book: 

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter (Andrea Oliver #1)
Published July 20th 2021 by William Morrow
Date read: June 30, 2021

The Characters: 

Her ex Water
Her sister Callie

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Buy it on Bookshop.org | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

Andrea Cooper knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them.

Click here for book spoilers for Pieces of Her
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read Pieces of Her, I suggest you turn back now.

The Twist: 

Laura was really Jane Queller, and she and Andie were in witness protection. The Queller family were wealthy and powerful owners of a pharmaceutical company. Jane’s father had been raping and abusing her since she was a young girl. He was also extremely demanding regarding Jane’s skills as a pianist.

Jane’s brother Andrew became friends with Nick in college. Nick went on to start a cult called The Army of the Changing World and began to target corporations like QuellCorp. Eventually, they took it too far and Martin Queller (Jane’s father) was killed publically onstage by a member of the cult.

Nick had plans to set off more bombs to make his point known to the world. He had a handful of loyal followers. Jane found out she was pregnant, and shortly thereafter learned that her brother Andrew was queer and was dying of AIDS. Nick refused to let Jane take him to the hospital to die in peace, so Jane ran away with Andrew. Their brother Jasper found them in the hospital, and Jane learned that he had funded some of Nick’s actions.

Jane ran away and made a deal with the police. She served only two years in exchange for her information about the group. While she was in jail, Andie was raised by Clara and Edwin, who owned the farm that the group had hid out on for a period.

In present day, Andie found all of this out by tracking down Paula Kunde, a member of Nick’s cult. Paula told her to find Clara. When Andie got to Clara and Edwin’s farm, Paula and some other former cult members shot and killed Edwin and Clara. Paula kept Andie alive to lead Laura/Jane to them. Andie and Laura/Jane escaped because Paula had run out of bullets.

Mike really was a US Marshall, responsible for Andie’s wellbeing, but he was watching her because he suspected Laura was up to something. 

Jane bought the gun used to kill her father.

The Review: 

As an avid Karin fan, I read this book years ago before I started reviewing regularly. I watched the corresponding Netflix show the weekend it came out. Recently, I requested a copy of the second book in the Andrea Oliver series, Girl, Forgotten, and was told I’d be receiving a copy very soon! To celebrate, I suggested Pieces of Her for my monthly mini-book-club read with my sisters.

Slaughter is known for her extremely gory thrillers, but this one is quite as grisly as some of her others. Don’t get me wrong, there are still some rough scenes, but compared to her others it’s pretty tame.

Unlike her other thrillers, Pieces of Her starts out as an exploration of a mother-daughter relationship, and how your parents aren’t necessarily the people that you’ve always known them to be. Andrea’s mother had a whole separate life before she was a parent, a life that Andrea knew nothing about.

The story is told in both the past and the present, with two separate storylines that the reader is anxious to figure out the connection between. I enjoyed being able to figure out what was going on alongside Andrea.

I didn’t like Andrea’s POV nearly as much as Jane’s. I found Andrea to be frustratingly helpless at times. She would freeze like a deer in headlights every time she was confronted with anything throughout the story, despite being the main character. Jane was much more interesting to read about!

The Netflix show was pretty similar to the book, minus a few triggering details that weren’t necessary to the storyline. The show made the content slightly more family-friendly, but in doing so took away some of the motivations for certain character’s actions.

If you've only watched the show, click here for some key differences, especially if you're about to read Girl, Forgotten.

In the book, Martin raped Jane throughout her whole childhood. Obviously, this makes it a lot more understandable why Jane would want to see Martin killed.

Laura is still enrolled in Witness Protection in the books, and Mike is still her agent.

Unlike in the show, Jasper and Andrea never meet in Pieces of Her. She meets him very briefly for the first time at the beginning of Book 2.

In the book, Nick was arrested and imprisoned, not on the run. He is coming up for parole, and Andrea, Laura, and Jasper all want him to stay inside for life.

I can’t wait to read the second book in the Andrea Oliver series. I’m very interested to see how Andrea’s relationship with her mother progresses from here, and I’m interested to see if she’s a little less helpless in this one.

Edit August 2022: Click here for my review of Girl, Forgotten!

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