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Book Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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Gillian Flynn’s debut novel, Sharp Objects, had me squirming right up to the last page.  A probing examination of the psychological backlash resulting from mothering gone wrong; the pages were turning so fast, it’s a wonder I didn’t end up with life-threatening paper cuts.

Which brings me to the cutting. And the suckling. And the poisoning.  Each sordid scene leaves a pit in your stomach, a gag of bile in your throat that no amount of swallowing will wash down.  Be thankful that while your own family may be a little nuts, they lack the serious case of the crazies that have gripped the Preaker family. 

Camille Preaker, a journalist, is sent on assignment to write about a developing murder mystery in her home town.  Due to budgetary constraints, she is expected to stay with her family at her parent’s Victorian mansion.  Colorful does not begin to describe the cast of characters haunting the small town of Wind Gap.

There’s Adora, a woman and mother on the brink.  Amma, the little sister and Adora worshipper.  Marian, the dead sister.  And the men, who are all characterless, used simply to further the plot or emphasize a woman’s control or lack there of.  

Flynn’s writing style is twitchy, enhancing the nervous energy you undoubtedly will feel as you search in vain for ways to rid yourself of the jitters.  Or maybe it was the coffee I consumed to stay up and keep reading.  Inexplicably, an old junior high hair-twirling habit reappeared while engaging in Camille’s world.

The murder mystery plot is the canvas that Flynn uses to examine the damaged characters' psyches.  Just like I knew that Nicole Kidman’s character in The Others was actually a ghost when she kept rattling those darn keys; I knew whodunit right around the halfway mark in the book. As it turns out, I was right about the ghost thing, wrong about the child killer of Wind Gap.  Delightfully wrong. 

Sharp Objects is a gripping novel that sucks the reader into this small town mentality, where the misfit is tormented, young girls grow up too fast and the whole sorry bunch is in deep denial. Each word will sear on your skin and leave more than a lasting impression.

Sharp Objects is published by Shaye Areheart Books and can be located on the RandomHouse Canada website.

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