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Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Pieces of Her

by Karin Slaughter

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Quick take

When her mother heroically stops a shooting, a daughter realizes she might not really know the woman who raised her.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_400

    400+ pages

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NonLinear

    Nonlinear timeline

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_NowAMovie

    Now a movie

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_MamaDrama

    Mama drama


Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner, and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.

When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognizable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person—and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.

Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall, but 24 hours later she is in the hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down.

What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth—for better or worse—about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Pieces of Her.
Pieces of Her


For years, even while she’d loved him, part of her had hated him in that childish way that you hate something you can’t control. He was headstrong, and stupid, and handsome, which gave him cover for a hell of a lot of the mistakes he continually made—the same mistakes, over and over again, because why try new ones when the old ones worked so well in his favor?

He was charming, too. That was the problem. He would charm her. He would make her furious. Then he would charm her back again so that she did not know if he was the snake or she was the snake and he was the handler.

So he sailed along on his charm, and his fury, and he hurt people, and he found new things that interested him more, and the old things were left broken in his wake.

Then, quite suddenly, his charm had stopped working. A trolley car off the tracks. A train without a conductor. The mistakes could not be forgiven, and eventually, the second same mistake would not be overlooked, and the third same mistake had dire consequences that had ended with a life being taken, a death sentence being passed, then—almost—resulted in the loss of another life, her life.

How could she still love someone who had tried to destroy her?

When she had been with him—and she was decidedly with him during his long fall from grace—they had raged against the system: The group homes. The emergency departments. The loony bin. The mental hospital. The squalor. The staff who neglected their patients. The orderlies who ratcheted tight the straitjackets. The nurses who looked the other way. The doctors who doled out the pills. The urine on the floor. The feces on the walls. The inmates, the fellow prisoners, taunting, wanting, beating, biting.

The spark of rage, not the injustice, was what had excited him the most. The novelty of a new cause. The chance to annihilate. The dangerous game. The threat of violence. The promise of fame. Their names in lights. Their righteous deeds on the tongues of schoolchildren who were taught the lessons of change.

A penny, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, a dollar bill ...

What she had kept hidden, the one sin that she could never confess to, was that she had ignited that first spark.

She had always believed—vehemently, with great conviction—that the only way to change the world was to destroy it.

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Why I love it

Have you ever stumbled across a cryptic message scribbled in a parent’s high school yearbook, or flipped through an old album of unrecognizable photos, or overheard a previously untold story from their childhood and thought: I have absolutely no idea who this person is that raised me? In Pieces of Her, Andrea Oliver can relate. Only it was much more than a photo that revealed just how little she knows.

Andrea’s always believed her mom, Laura, to be a kind, quiet woman living a very ordinary life. That is, until the day that their mother-daughter lunch is interrupted by a violent attack—and Laura swiftly and expertly intervenes. Soon Laura is the victim of another crime, and Andrea is left to wonder: Who exactly is the mother she thought she knew so well? And what secrets lie in her past?

This book hits the ground running from the high-stakes first chapter. As the story unfolds, carrying us from past to present, the events of Laura’s former self begin to fit together with the pieces of her present. It’s no surprise this twisty book is headed for the small screen—here’s your chance to read the story that inspired the TV adaptation.

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Member ratings (5,223)

  • Morgan Z.

    Fordyce, NE

    Everything that you once knew is not that anymore! Your life is a lie or maybe not!Love the twist in the plot on Andy’s journey as she tries to discover who her mom is! I can’t wait to watch the show!

  • Danah J.

    Murfreesboro, TN

    This was a great read. It was super entertaining, certainly early on. I enjoy Slaughter’s writing style, but this one had a lot of foul language, physical abuse, and graphic violence. Overall- 4 stars

  • Susan W.

    St Cloud, FL

    What an adventure! I loved the shift between now/back-when. I never checked out the Netflix version so am grateful I could create my own backdrops and voices. I was fully engaged/immersed from page 1.

  • Travis S.

    Houston, TX

    This book was hard to put down. Both main characters were great. The mom had a history I loved and the daughter had a journey of her own. The book left me wondering throughout in the best way possible

  • Natalie R.

    Windermere, FL

    Wow! I’m so excited to watch the Netflix series. The timeline jumps added so much emotional complexity to the plot as we read and experience from both the daughter and mother’s lives experiences.

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