Monday, January 17, 2022

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

If you like intelligent, disturbing literary thrillers that challenge your beliefs about violence and its perpetrators, this book’s for you. 

Two young teenaged girls have turned up dead in the past year in a small Missouri town. A Chicago reporter, who grew up there, is sent to cover the story. She has recently emerged from a stay in a psych ward and is struggling to refrain from her habit of carving words into her own skin. 

This is one of Gillian Flynn’s earlier novels, written before her better-known novel Gone Girl. In it, Flynn dissects the power dynamics and casual cruelty of early teens, especially girls. She shines the light on a downright poisonous mother-daughter relationship. Her central character seems to dismiss male behavior that others would call sexual assault and engages in behavior that some would call abusive—as she moves closer and closer to an intolerable truth. 

You might have a good idea who the killer is before you reach the end of the novel. But the questions that surround the central character, and Flynn’s grappling with our cherished beliefs, will command your attention all the way through.

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