Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
OMG. Think gruesome wreck you can’t turn away from and you probably won’t even get close to the horrors of Gillian Flynn‘s debut novel, which pubbed six years before her mega-breakout Gone Girl, which is currently turning up on new major ‘best-of’ lists daily. So freaked out am I with Objects (which, well-trained in rubbernecking, I listened to in less than a day during an endless swim meet weekend), that I must post the title now, in meager hopes of warding off nightmares tonight. In case you, too, choose the audible option, narrator Ann Marie Lee (who is embarrassingly incapable of a Scottish lilt) is indubitably gifted with creepazoid southern charm.
Camille Preaker’s two-year-old job with Chicago’s fourth largest paper, the Daily Post, has her busy with “consistently fall[ing] short of expectations.” Her editor thinks it might be “good” for her to go home to Wind Gap, Missouri – “‘[s]pitting distance from Tennessee and Arkansas’ … one of those crummy towns prone to misery” – and dig up what will hopefully become prizewinning coverage behind the murder of two young girls. Not wanting to further disappoint his faith in her, she heads south toward Dysfunction (capitalization intentional).
Arriving unannounced at the perfect Victorian mansion she hasn’t visited in eight years, Camille is hardly a welcome guest in her own childhood home. Mommy Dearest has no open arms for her eldest daughter, a reminder of the teenage folly no one ever dares talk about. Despite her three-decades-old marriage, even older money, and still-gorgeous looks (never mind the missing eyelashes), Camille’s mother (named Adora! – I kid you not!) is still mourning her would-have-been-perfect-if-she-had-only-lived-middle daughter, who just happened to pass away on Camille’s 13th birthday. Her youngest – precocious, spoiled, ominously 13, and named Amma (as in ‘mother’ in many languages, but also sounds like ‘I love’ in many others, egads!) – turns out to be the alpha mean girl everyone obeys, fears, and envies. And that’s just Camille’s own family! Once the town’s residents realize that Camille’s prodigal visit is not exactly social, she quickly becomes the local pariah … and yet some secrets just can’t stay hidden forever.
Are girls that carelessly treacherous? Are small town women who never leave really that desperate and manipulative? Is evil a contagious disease in these hothouse communities? Given all the death and destruction titles I read (poverty, oppression, deprivation, neverending war), my undeniable shock here makes me sound like Pollyanna, I realize … but I admit to being far more disturbed when inexplicable evil happens in environments of utter plenty.
Nightmares aside, you won’t be able to put this down (did I mention less than a day?). Flynn, who was the TV critic for Entertainment Weekly in another life, certainly figured out how to keep short attention spans transfixed. Get ready for twists and turns, thrusts and parries, all right in the gut … O-M-G.