Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Read: March 3rd, 2014-March 5th, 2014

Release Date: January 1st, 2006
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (Random House Publishing)
Pages: 252
Price: $14.00

“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.”

I realize that authors, and writers of any kind, aren’t often the sanest of people. Not that having some quirkiness is a detriment, but we all have certain things that are distinctly us. Not too long ago I finished another Flynn novel, Gone Girl, the review of which can be found on my page. I was disturbed by that book in many different facets, but Sharp Objects definitely takes the number one place for most disturbing novel. I would be hesitant to read any of her other novels for the simple fact that they are disturbing in sick and twisted ways. I am no newcomer to thrillers or suspense novels. I watch my fair share of Criminal Minds with all of its unsettling material. However, Flynn takes things to the next level with this novel involving uncomfortable mentions and downright sick things. Her writing is not the issue, as she has a wonderful command of voice and the written word. She knows exactly where to place phrases or words for the utmost effect on the reader. The problem, however, is certain topics that were covered in the novel. I am no prude, but hearing about a thirteen year old being gang raped by four boys is not exactly on the list of things I’m dying to read.

Camille Preaker, a thirty something journalist for a second rate newspaper in Chicago, has just gotten out of a brief stint in a psych ward for cutting. It’s not small cuts that adorn her wrists, arms, and ankles, rather, it’s words that she delicately carved into her flesh for years. Her entire body is covered with them except for her hands and face, she made sure to be able to cover them with clothing. Her boss and good friend, Frank Curry decides that it may help Camille’s career if she returned to her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri to investigate what looks like a child serial killer. Camille is hesitant to return to the birthplace of her misfortune, but decides that five days in town wouldn’t kill her.

Upon her arrival, Camille meets with Chief of police Bill Vickery who isn’t all too keen to invite the media into his investigation, even if she used to be a local. Chief Vickery wants nothing to do with Camille’s story and tells her to head back home because there is no story to be had in Wind Gap. On the contrary, a storm is brewing in Wind Gap. Last August little nine year old Anne Nash was found dead in a creek in the woods, she had ligature marks around her throat from strangulation and all of her teeth had been extracted. Now, young Natalie Keene has been abducted and the entire town is out searching the woods and any area that young kids in Wind Gap would go to hide or hangout. Camille joins the search, hoping to interview some locals about the murder and missing girl. Anyone who speaks to Camille tells her that they it must be someone who isn’t local. No one wants to believe that a baby killer could be sitting next to them in church on Sundays.

Dealing with grieving parents was a walk in the park in comparison to dealing with her own mother, Adora. Not having called to say that she was stopping by for a few days, Camille shows up on her family’s front steps after ten years away and feels the all too tight knot in her stomach begin to grow. She has memories of this town and of her childhood, all of which contributed to her painful body mutilation. Being the perfect hostess, Adora seems somewhat pleased at her daughter’s arrival, hiding her discomfort behind a porcelain smile. Camille’s younger half-sister Amma is now thirteen and worlds different than the plump little baby she left behind. Amma doesn’t act like a thirteen year old girl, instead like a childish woman who talks sex, drugs, and anything ‘fun’ in their small town.

While trying to ignore her old family life, Camille focuses her attention back on the case. She leaves home early one morning to visit the police station in hopes of catching any more leads, but instead finds the body of Natalie Keene placed between two buildings, her teeth absent from her gums. It’s here that she meets Richard Willis, a detective from Kansas who came to Wind Gap in order to help Chief Vickery catch a killer. Willis is a young and cocky detective, high off his newly closed serial murder case in Kansas that got him his big promotion. He plays with Camille, giving her small bits of information for her company–and sometimes sex–depends on Camille’s mood. While everyone is pointing to an outsider, one little boy who was with Natalie at the time of her disappearance tells a different story. He claims that a woman in white took Natalie from the woods and is now fearful of even leaving his home. The police believe the murders to be done by a man as no woman is inherently capable of hurting a baby.

Through twists and turns Camille drinks herself into many a stupor and gossips with local women old and young to get the inside story on the two dead girls and any suspects that the town might have. Curry pushes her for more information and forces her to stay in town longer to see the case through, meaning more time at home with her controlling mother and unfortunate half-sister. Her stay dredges up memories of weird nights, blue pills, and eerie feelings that Camille can’t seem to shake. But when she begins putting pieces of her past together with the murders, things begin to go horribly wrong, sending her and her family into a tailspin that threatens to swallow them all alive.

I hadn’t ever planned on cursing on this website. I find it unprofessional when it comes to academic-esque work, which is what this website was for originally. However, just this once I will break my own rule. This book is fucked up. There really is no other way to place it into words. This book is unhealthy and vile. It leaves you feeling as if you want to stand under the hottest water you can bear and scrub your skin raw to get all the dirt and griminess from this book off your skin and out of your mind. It truly is disturbing. I’m not really sure what ever possessed Flynn to write this book. It makes me question some of her sanity because it’s downright grotesque. To be frank, I don’t know what more to say about this book. You either have to read it for yourself to understand or just take my word for it, but either way it just makes you feel scummy.

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