Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects: A Novel
If you're deeply invested in the ideal of small-town America, this thriller will offend. Since I'm definitely not, I enjoyed humming that Mellencamp song ("I was born in a small town...") in cheerful sarcasm as I took in the sick, secretive atmosphere of fictional Wind Gap, MO, where social maturity never progresses beyond the high-school level. Oh yes, and there are murdered children, psychopathic mothers, seriously disturbed young teenagers, and a protagonist who cuts words into her own flesh-- but I'm guessing that these elements aren't completely representative. (Sadly, the adolescent cultures of alcohol, drugs, bullying, and casual rape are probably too true of just about everywhere.)
What clinched this novel for me was the character of Camille Preaker, a Wind Gap native who had fled her horribly dysfunctional (understatement!) family for Chicago, only to be sent back to her hometown on assignment. Her voice-- even when delving into unhealthy impulses-- remained strong and relatable.
I wanted to see her heal; I was disappointed in the man who couldn't be there for her, even though his decision was realistic. The letdown of ending this book was, for me, the letdown of parting ways with Camille without any real assurance that she'd recover, that she'd be all right.
Two favorite quotes:
"Ah, well, being conflicted means you can live a shallow life without copping to being a shallow person.",
"Sometimes I think illness sits inside every woman, waiting for the right moment to bloom."