Her by Karin Slaughter is a spell
binding psychological thriller. The suspense keeps ratcheting
up as she throws curve ball after curve ball to the readers.
At the heart of the story is the mother-daughter relationship
and the hidden secrets. How well does someone know their parents?
Slaughter said, “I think a lot about this. How many
of us realize that our mom/dad had a life before us? No matter
how old you are, you do not want to realize your parents had
this life and have secrets. For example, I had no idea my
dad was an electrician. Sometimes we do not think to ask our
parents about their life before we were born. Andy realizes
that Laura had a secret life she knows nothing about, where
her mother had a whole new backstory.”
Andrea (Andy) Cooper thought she knew her mild mannered mother.
But that changes after a spree shooting in a mall restaurant
where Andy and Laura are celebrating her 31stbirthday. Laura
shows a completely different side, a courageous woman willing
to stand up to this killer to save her daughter. She dispassionately
confronts the killer, first disarming him, and then knifing
him with his own weapon, making it appear that she was somehow
trained to kill. The police and media attention to Laura's
actions unleashes the attention of a life-threatening sort.
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 forcing Andy to go on
the run, where she becomes determined to unravel the mystery
of her mother's past, in hopes of saving them both. In her
quest, Andrea realizes that she only knows what her mother,
Laura, chose to reveal.
Slaughter explores self-defense versus murder “When
I was writing this, I realized it is very subjective. How
do you quantify that you did it because you are scared? Because
everyone has cell phones and videos, there was something to
look at and see how each were standing and what they were
saying. I think the police and prosecutors have a lot of leeway
on determining if someone should be charged. I also think
public reaction plays a great influence. I wanted to talk
about the idea of perception. Do we really know what is in
Laura’s mind when she does that action? Did she do it
out of self-preservation or anger? I think she would probably
get the benefit of the doubt.”
With alternating chapters between the present, 2018, and Laura’s
past in 1986, Slaughter writes flawed but sympathetic characters
with hidden motivations driving their choices After returning
home to help her mother recover from breast cancer, Andy is
still a millennial struggling to find herself with no obvious
career goals. She has always felt inferior to her parents.
Her father, Gordon Oliver, is a trusts and estates attorney;
her mother, Dr. Laura Oliver, is a speech therapist, a pillar
of the community. Gordon is the only character in the story
that is a solid figure who is responsible, caring, and patient.
Interestingly, “I wrote about the generational gap.
Millennials want to rise to the top. They have to realize
they must start at the bottom before trying to run the entire
company. I did enjoy playing with the generational differences
of Laura and her daughter. The book is published overseas
already and I can see the different generational reactions.
The millennials are keyed in to Andy, where those in their
late thirties or older gravitate toward Laura. Andy is someone
that at her age of thirty-one is way too dependent on her
parents. At a very early age it was made very clear to me
that I had to find a job. In the beginning of the book she
is like that guy we heard about on the news who is forty and
still living at home.”
Slaughter is one of those special authors that take readers
on a journey with the characters. Throughout the novel, the
timely subjects of cancer, abuse, cults, injustice, obsession,
and violence are explored. Those who have read her in the
past know that Slaughter has set the bar high and with this
intense story she does not disappoint.