“Sometimes I think illness sits inside every woman, waiting for the right moment to bloom. I have known so many sick women all my life. Women with chronic pain, with ever-gestating diseases. Women with conditions. Men, sure, they have bone snaps, they have backaches, they have a surgery or two, yank out a tonsil, insert a shiny plastic hip. Women get consumed.”
TITLE & AUTHOR: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
PUBLISHED : 2006, by Broadway Paperbacks
MY RATING: 5/5
Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed in her old bedroom in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.
Recently I’ve been talking about reading more thrillers (They’re good, let’s face it), and after reading all of Ruth Ware’s books, the next author I picked up was Gillian Flynn. I read Gone Girl first, of course, and I’ll write a review for that one too, but since it’s a global phenomenon, and I’ve already seen the movie, it’s nothing new to me. Sharp Objects on the other hand, was a short and brutal read that left me wanting more.
I am currently reading another Flynn’s novel, Dark Places, and it’s easy to notice a theme in her writing: broken, dysfunctional families, raw violence, small rural towns on the verge of disappearance. Fuck, I kind of like it. It’s familiar. Not that degree of violence though, but everything else. Of course rural Missouri is a whole different thing from where I grew up, but the palpable despair is the same. If you don’t mind violence, keep reading. I won’t list the triggers because there’s dozen.
Camille Preaker, a reporter for a Chicago newspaper, gets an assignment which will take her back to the past she tried to leave behind. To her hometown, a small, quiet town called Wind Gap; to her disdainful mother and cold stepfather; to her sisters, Amma who is only thirteen and barely knows her, and Marian, whose sad memory haunts the huge Victorian Crellin home.
The assignment Camille gets is to find a connection between a murder and a disappearance, both of two little girls, Amma’s age, one found a year before in a creek with all her teeth pulled out, the other still missing when Camille enters her family home. Right from the doorstep she doesn’t get the warmest of welcomes, but quickly everything unravels and Camille observes her mother’s suffocating and possessive behavior to Amma, eerily similar to the one she used to exhibit towards the prematurely deceased Marian. Camille is like a silent observer in her own home, never experiencing the love and attention her mother gave her sisters in abundance, maybe even a bit too much.
During the investigation, Camille and a detective from out of town discover long buried secrets, and they try to connect them with the new cases. The more dirt they dig up on this small, cold town and its residents, the more Camille’s old wounds open up and bleed, figuratively and literally. Self harm, underage sex, murder, mental illness and foul secrets blend in this short, yet slow-burn family drama.
It’s insane how Gillian Flynn does so little to introduce her characters, yet you feel you’ve known them for years, and you can’t help liking even the most foul ones. Except no one is innocent here. Every single character she wrote is deeply flawed and makes tons of wrong choices. Perfect humans on display. Settings in all three of her novels are pretty much the same, yet different on basic levels, through its people, like the real towns are, I guess.
“A town so suffocating and small, you tripped over people you hated every day. People who knew things about you. It’s the kind of place that leaves a mark.”
Her writing is excellent, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s not for everyone. Especially if you’re easily disturbed. I would honestly recommend Sharp Objects as a Gillian Flynn starter, regardless of Gone Girl’s fame, and after reading it, you get an HBO adaptation too, starring the only goddess I worship, Amy Adams. Have (disturbing) fun with it!