After reading the super-hyped Gone Girl and few years ago I had to go and read Gillian Flynn’s earlier books Dark Places and Sharp Objects. While Dark Places was interesting I didn’t connect well with the protagonist and although I was curious on how it ended didn’t enjoy it enough to want to re-read again and again. Sharp Objects on the other hand gripped me from start to finish.
Amy Adams has been announced to star in the TV adaption of the book due to come out in 2017, so if you haven’t read it yet I recommend that you do. The story follows Camille Preaker, a journalist who travels back to her small deep-south town to report on a recent missing child. Camille faces many of her past demons by returning home including the strained relationship with mother Adora and half-sister Amma, her misspent teenager years, and the death of her 10 year old sister Marion. When the missing girl is found dead, with her teeth missing, she teams up Detective Richard to find out more about the story and investigate the murder of the last missing child in the town. Who is this child killer? Why are they taking the children’s teeth?
Like Flynn’s previous books Sharp Objects is set in Missouri but takes a slightly different approach to recounting the area. While Dark Places follows the working-class Libby’s experience in a small town, Camille comes from one the wealthiest families, and her experiences while different are by no means happier. Camille’s return home is a universal experience for anyone who had moved away, gone travelling or gone away university and then come back to your teenage home. Her old school friends can have gone on the have children and husbands, while she has not; the fun things she used to do as teen now seem inappropriate; she is an outside where once she was on the inside.
Camille, former prom queen-esq beauty (she never described as having actually been the prom queen but you get the sense she probably was) is now a self-harming alcoholic. She is deeply flawed with many disturbing issues, the most shocking being her need to cut words on to every inch of her skin, but all in all she seems like she is a good and decent person. A TV adaption is in production so I am very keen to see how they deal with this costume element. In the book, Camille wears clothing that covers her from head to toe as he word scars are visible on every inch of skin…. can you say creepy.
The runaway star of the novel, however, has to be Camille’s manipulative and overtly sexualised 13 year old half-sister, Amma. Amma is a curious mixture of childlike china doll and mini lap dancer in the making. The reader’s mind flips between sympathising for the young child who is struggling with family issues and loathing the spoilt bullying brat. The reader is always left thinking what will Amma do next?
The novel addresses the interesting issues of the sexualisation of youth (through Amma and the young Camille) and female relationships through (Adora and her daughters). The most compelling part of this book – and one of the reasons I have re-read it so many times – is the ending. It is far more satisfying than both Gone Girl’s and Dark Places’ and most unusually for Flynn leaves the reader with a sense of hope. With Amy Adams as Camille, I’m super interested to see who plays Amma, and how they deal with the scarring…. should be interesting.