SHARP OBJECTS

Gillian Flynn

WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart

Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg

Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town.

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WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart

Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.

NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg

Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory.

HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle

As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming.

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  • Broadway
  • Paperback
  • July 2007
  • 272 Pages
  • 9780307341556

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About Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn’s debut novel, Sharp Objects, was an Edgar Award finalist and the winner of two of Britain’s Dagger Awards. She lives in Chicago with her husband, Brett Nolan, and a rather giant cat named Roy.

Praise

“A deeply creepy exploration of small-town Midwestern values and boasts one of the most deliciously dysfunctional families to come along in a while…[Flynn] handles the narrative with confidence and a surprisingly high level of skill…Wind Gap ends up the sort of place you’d never want to visit. But withSharp Objects, you’re in no hurry to leave.” San Francisco Chronicle

“Brilliant…Powerful, mesmerizing…A stunning, powerful debut from someone who truly has something to say.”San Jose Mercury News

“One of the best and most disturbing books I have read in a long time…Flynn never stoops to the gratuitous, and the torment produces haunting characters that hung around my imagination long after I had finished the book. Her skillful blending of old tragedies with new culminated in an ‘oh-my-gosh’ moment that I never saw coming. This book simply blew me away.”Kansas City Star

“Don’t look here for the unrelenting self-deprecation and the moping over men common chick lit…I promise you’ll be thoroughly unnerved at the end.” Newsweek

Discussion Questions

When we first meet Camille, she is writing a news story about a case of child abuse. Why do you think the author chooses to open the book this way? What do you learn about Camille from her reaction to the story?

“Natalie was buried in the family plot, next to a gravestone that bore her parents’ names. I know the wisdom, that no parents should see their child die…But it’s the only way to truly keep your child. Kids grow up, they forge more potent allegiances. They find a spouse or a lover. They will not be buried with you. The Keenes, however, will remain the purest form of family. Underground.” Macabre but true?

“Outside on the porch I saw a changeling.” How do you feel about Amma? Is she a changeling in the traditional sense of the word? Or a chameleon forced to adapt to her unnatural environment?

“When you die, you become perfect. I’d be like Princess Diana. Everyone loves her now.” Is Amma right? Does this apply in the world of Wind Gap? In our lives is this also true?

Do you think there is any significance to the letter A in Sharp Objects? Think of Camille’s family in particular.

“I’m here. I don’t usually feel I am.” How has Camille’s past shaped her? Do you agree with the shrinks that her “weightlessness” is due to her ignorance of her history?

“‘Oh now look what you’ve done. I’m bleeding.’ My mother held up thorn-pricked hands, and trails of deep red began to roll down her wrists.” What does this moment tell you about how Camille views her mother? About how Adora views Camille?

How important do you think the outward appearance of the people in Sharp Objects is to their personalities? Ugliness and beauty are themes throughout the book, but are they the key themes? Or do the characters rise above the visual?

“A ring of perfect skin.” One on Camille’s back, another on her mother’s wrist. What significance does this have? How alike are Camille and her mother? In what crucial ways are they different?

“Sometimes I think illness sits inside every woman, waiting for the right moment to bloom.” How far do you agree with this? Can you see how Camille has come to think this?

Female violence is a major concern of Sharp Objects. In what ways are Camille, Adora, and Amma each violent? What does the outlet for each woman’s acts of violence tell you about her personality?