A little while ago, I took part in that viral Facebook status that was all about generating book sales. You probably saw it: the status about #savetheculture (I think that was the hashtag) where if you were one of the first six people to like it, you got a really long message about sending a book to someone you didn’t know. BUT, if you did that, you got six books in return. This was a no brainer for me. The publishing industry needs as much help as it can get, so I joined in. I bought my person Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman. I put my status up, sent out the six messages, and waited.
I got one book. One out of six. Don’t get me wrong, whoever sent me that book is amazing, and I know it’s weird buying strangers things, but I feel like the people who read the status didn’t get what the whole thing was about.
Anyway, that was my longwinded way of saying that this Facebook status was how I ended up with The Grownup. I wouldn’t have bought it myself, to be completely honest. Gone Girl never really seemed like my thing. I’m not one for psychological thrillers. I don’t like feeling unsafe in my own mind. Which is:
a. why I will never watch Shutter Island again, and
b. why I study psychology.
So from everything I heard from both the book and the movie, I figured that Gillian Flynn was just one of those authors I would never experience.
Oh well. Looks like I have to add Gone Girl to the TBR mountain.
The Grownup was amazing. From the very first sentence. Most first sentences I read draw you in slowly, kind of like a hypnotist counting to five until you are completely under their control. Not in this book. The first sentence is a steel trap that seizes your attention so forcefully that it’s nearly painful.
I didn’t stop giving hand jobs because I wasn’t good at it.
And then the second sentence…
I stopped giving hand jobs because I was the best at it.
I forgive you if you abandon this post now and go find this story.
My copy of The Grownup was only 79 pages long, so this book will not take you long. Every single page has been artfully crafted in all things. Plot? Mood? Mystery? An awesome ending? Hell yes. The plot twisted and turned so much that I definitely didn’t see the ending coming. Even though I should have. But that’s only what hindsight is telling me. Flynn did an amazing job of throwing me off the ending’s scent.
What I will say is that I think the only fully fleshed out character was the narrator. She had everything: a back story, idiosyncrasies, a very distinctive voice, and a physicality on the page that not many authors can pull off. However, the rest of the cast felt a little like acquaintances who you see everyday, but only for five minutes. You get an impression of these people, but you always miss the most important details. I feel like this could have been a kind of characterisation for the main character, suggesting that she’s selfish enough to only notice people on a superficial level. But, it is very likely that by writing the rest of the characters like this, Flynn was better able to pull off her ending.
But what do I know? This story won the Edgar Award for Best Short Story back in 2015.
Read this story now. Especially if Gillian Flynn isn’t your cup of tea. It’ll take you half an hour and you might find yourself drawn to a whole new side of your local bookshop as a result.