Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Published by Broadway Books on July 31, 2007
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
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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.
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn has been in my consciousness lately, as the HBO show is currently being aired. I’ve become obsessed with the show and could not wait to find out how the story ends, so I decided to go ahead and read the book. Overall, I enjoyed it–it’s a fairly short read (albeit a massively dark one). However, I think that I would not have enjoyed the book quite as much had I not seen the show as well. But first, the book.
Newspaper reporter Camille Preaker is assigned to cover the murders of two adolescent girls. This story is unique because of the location of the crimes: Camille’s tiny hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri. Camille left years ago for the big city (in the book it’s Chicago, versus St. Louis in the tv show). On top of this, Camille is dreading the thought of facing her family once again.
Camille’s family life is complicated, to say the least. Her wealthy mother, Adora, owns the pig processing operation in town; but the years-past death of Camille’s sister left a void between her and Adora that was never healed. In addition, Camille and her half-sister Amma barely know each other—but Camille soon discovers Amma’s hypnotic influence on many residents of Wind Gap. Compounding the dysfunctional family situation, Camille recently completed a stint in a psychiatric hospital. View Spoiler »(It’s a few chapters in until it’s revealed that Camille struggles with self-harm, but in the tv show it’s addressed in the first episode.) « Hide Spoiler
Camille must reconnect with the people of the town in order to write her story. Many are happy to sling gossip as if no time has gone by since she was there last. But many want nothing to do with the supposed blood-sucking reporter who left for the city, someone who’s seemingly exploiting the dead to sell more papers. Alongside the town dynamics, Camille finds herself investigating the mystery of the murders—as well as the mystery of her family and the events that led to tragedy so many years ago.
This book is DARK. Seriously reconsider reading this if you currently struggle (or in the past have struggled) with self-harm. The same warning goes for watching the show, which gets pretty graphic.
The majority of the book is a slow burn, which is why I felt that the reveal and ending occur a little too quickly, only to be over not long after the reveal. As I mentioned, I enjoyed the book overall—and I’m interested to see how the show handles the pacing as well as character development in upcoming episodes.
Sharp Objects is a character study of a deeply damaged woman and her highly dysfunctional family, one that digs deep into the ugliness and filth of the past. Recommended if you like things really dark, but especially if you’re as into the tv series as I am.
Rating: 4 stars