Rating: 3 Stars
Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter is about how an act of terror in a local mall changes the life of Andrea Oliver. Andy is 31 years old, and lives at home with her mother, having moved back from New York a few years back after her mother’s health problems.
Andy’s life is boring and monotonous. She’s aimless and has no real ambition in life except to live from one day to the other, and that too in the most mundane way possible. She’s ashamed of the time she spent in New York, and is unwilling to tell anyone about her dreadful existence there.
While Andy is celebrating her birthday with her mom, a gunman enters the cafe and proceeds to open fire. When Andy’s mother disarms the gunman, and manages to kill him, she is all over the news, especially as someone has managed to make a video of the whole incident. It takes Andy a few hours to realize that her mother might not be what she seems, and that Andy needs to act timely for once to save her mother and herself.
Karin Slaughter spins a great story with enough twists and mysteries to keep the reader engaged. Unfortunately, her heroine is unbearable. When a woman of 31 acts like a 16-year-old, I find myself wanting to shake her really hard. At first, I thought she must be like this because of some trauma in her past, but that turned out to be a false hope. And when the same woman of 31 suddenly finds her spine and starts facing killers and being on the run on her own, I thought that I must be reading about someone else!
Since the narrative goes back and forth in time, it is even more frustrating to read about another woman unable to make her own decisions and behaving in a similar manner. I couldn’t help but think that for someone who has gone through so much in life, she would at least raise a daughter who is strong and faces life head on.
I’m not against having weak women characters in a story, or showing how a woman can overcome odds under adverse circumstances, I just want it to be believable. Slaughter’s Charlie and Samantha Quinn from The Good Daughter were a couple of badass women, who were believable with all their issues and baggage. Here, I was just left wishing for a couple of more engaging female protagonists.
I also have a problem with the male characters in the book. Andy’s stepfather, who we come to know is the most important man in Andy’s life, vanishes from her life after Andy runs away. All the other male characters are also there to fill some gaps and then disappear into thin air. Overall, I couldn’t get myself to get behind any of the characters in this book, which is a shame because I really like Karin Slaughter as an author and want to read her other books too.