Wednesday, February 2, 2011

staceygarrett’s CBRIII Review #5: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects is just a whole lot of dysfunction and intrigue crammed wonderfully into one book. This is Flynn’s first novel and I have also read and loved her second novel, Dark Places, however Sharp Objects is my favorite of the two and I can’t wait to see more from her.

Camille Preaker works for a middling, second-rate newspaper The Daily Post in Chicago. Two girls, around the age of 10, were murdered in Camille’s hometown, Wind Gap, Missouri. Camille’s editor, Frank Curry, sends her back home to cover the story in hopes of a Jon Benet-type situation being exposed first by his struggling paper. With Wind Gap being such a small town and Camille being from there, Curry things locals will be more eager to speak with a hometown girl about this horrifying thing that has happened.

Camille describes Wind Gap as “old money and trash,” however according to her she “trash from old money.” Camille has nothing but bad memories from Wind Gap and she is less than eager to go back. Also, since The Daily Post is a little low on funds, Camille has to stay with her mother, Adora, her half-sister, Amma and her step-father, Alan.

Amma and Adora are the grandest of self-medicated assholes hell-bent on putting everyone under their thumb. The kind of people, I hope at least, only exist in novels. My hatred for these two characters was instant and while Amma slowly redeemed herself, Adora did not. Adora is the kind of mother that never shows any emotion besides haughty discontent with every one and every thing around her including her children and her husband. And despite being an uppity bitch of the grandest nature, Adora plays the constant victim.

Adora is still milking the death of her daughter and Camille’s sister, Marian who died years before. Even though Amma is adored and doted on, she still lives in the shadow of Marian and you get the feeling that isn’t so much because Marian was so well loved, it’s because Marian died, giving Adora attention from the whole town. Adora has made grief her hobby and her family, friends and neighbors are supporting this hobby.

Camille, whose name has the gall to not begin with an A, is an outcast in this family and probably always has been so it is not all surprising when we learn that Camille is a cutter. And not just a cutter, she is a carver. She carves words into her skin and it isn’t just the initial cut that Camille finds therapeutic, it’s the cutting and the cleaning and swabbing. Cut, burn, repeat.

Camille has always been the let-down with her visible scars and Chicago address and Amma is the princess who was always doted on. Amma is 13-years-old but Adora treats and dresses her more like she’s nine with a dollhouse that matches their Victorian mansion and frilly dresses better suited for toddlers in pageants. The relationship between Adora and Amma is a co-dependant nightmare. However, when she is away from Adora, Amma is the exact opposite of what her doting mother wants her to be with drinking, drugs, mini-skirts, kleptomania, etc.

Camille not only has to write a series of stories for her paper but she also has to survive the company of her mother, half-sister and the town that only knows her as a cutter, a hand-full of a daughter and various other negative things that she can’t seem to outgrow, no matter how long she has been away. She has to keep it together long enough to not only do her job but to keep from harming herself.

Sharp Objects isn’t so much about the murders of these two girls as it is about Camille and her overly fucked-up family but that doesn’t make it any less captivating. It kept me on the edge of my seat and that is where I stayed mostly wondering, “Geez, what can happen next?!” It’s a book that stays with you after you are finished with it and that, my friends, is a damn fine quality in a spectacular book.


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