Andrea Cooper knows everything about her mother Laura. She’s knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Gullaway Island; 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 Saturday afternoon 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 will ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Twenty-four hours later Laura is in the hospital, shot by an intruder who’s spent thirty years trying to track her down and discover what she knows. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumbs 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. . . .

My Thoughts: I was drawn into Pieces of Her because I loved the premise of the chasm between mothers and daughters, and how they keep parts of themselves hidden, even from those they love.

In her daughter Andrea’s eyes, Laura Oliver has had an ordinary existence, but then a violent episode in the mall drastically changes that view. Afterwards, Laura tells her daughter she needs to move out, now that she is thirty-one, and make it on her own. Blindsided by her mother’s actions, both at the mall and then afterwards, Andrea resists.

But suddenly something even more troubling happens a day later that sends Andrea on a quest to find answers. Her mother has given her very specific guidelines of where to go, and how to stay safe. Everything about these actions changes not only her view of her mother, but of her own existence.

I found this part of the novel intriguing, as Andrea tried to stay ahead of the danger, but kept finding herself in the midst of it because she had forgotten to do one or two of the things her mother had suggested.

Obviously Laura had quite a journey in her younger years, but it will take Andrea’s numerous and sometimes dangerous efforts to learn what her mother had done back then…and how she managed to survive.

The story also reminded me a little of other cults we saw in the 70s and 80s, and how the groups depend on the leadership of charismatic and dangerous men.

Who was Laura Oliver, and what were her defining moments? How did she manage to escape, and what did she still need to do to protect her daughter. An engaging read. 4.5 stars.