Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

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A child weaned on poison considers harm a comfort.

Reading this book made me want to take a scalding hot bath and scrub my skin raw. Crack open its spine and you’re spat out onto the streets of Wind Gap, Missouri, where messy truths are covered with a thin, shiny lacquer named small town hospitality and family values.

Journalist Camille Preaker returns to this, her hometown, to report on the murder of two local girls. But grisly crime is not all that awaits her: there is her neurotic, overbearing mother Adora, still nursing a family tragedy of years before; a mean-girl posse of 13-year-olds governed by Camille’s half-sister, Amma; and two dead little girls with their own secrets.

The murder mystery aspect of this novel is probably a little predictable, so if you’re a crime thriller connoisseur who longs to be stunned silly when the baddy is finally revealed… this one might not be for you. That being said, solving the murders is hardly the only reason to read this book.

If you haven’t read a Gillian Flynn before (and even if you had, but need a reminder), Miss Flynn does not write about nice things and the old sugar-spice-everything-nice adage certainly does not reply to any of her female characters. I imagined the women of Wind Gap each trailing an IV relentlessly feeding their veins with malice, while they purr feigned sincerities at their BFF’s. But besides tapping into this insidious undercurrent of this small town, Flynn takes you behind closed doors and shows you the horrors the gossipy next door neighbours can only guess at – and this is where Sharp Objects truly shines.

The relationship between Camille and Adora, between Camille and Amma, and the question that lies at the center of this thriller: are all women meant to be mothers and are all girls meant to be daughters or sisters? Do you truly know someone, even if that person came from your own body, or shares your blood? How much of that person is truly individual, how much is simply an extension of oneself? How much may you lay claim to? The bond between mother and daughter has never been creepier and it makes for darn good reading.

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