272 pages, 7.94 × 5.16 × 0.55 in
July 31, 2007
The following ISBNs are associated with this title:
ISBN - 10: 0307341550
ISBN - 13: 9780307341556
About the Book
After eight years, the murders of two preteen girls--timed nearly a year apart--bring reporter Camille Preaker reluctantly back to her hometown. As she works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, Camille finds herself forced to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past.
Read from the Book
Chapter One My sweater was new, stinging red and ugly. It was May 12 but the temperature had dipped to the forties, and after four days shivering in my shirtsleeves, I grabbed cover at a tag sale rather than dig through my boxed-up winter clothes. Spring in Chicago. In my gunny-covered cubicle I sat staring at the computer screen. My story for the day was a limp sort of evil. Four kids, ages two through six, were found locked in a room on the South Side with a couple of tuna sandwiches and a quart of milk. They'd been left three days, flurrying like chickens over the food and feces on the carpet. Their mother had wandered off for a suck on the pipe and just forgotten. Sometimes that's what happens. No cigarette burns, no bone snaps. Just an irretrievable slipping. I'd seen the mother after the arrest: twenty-two-year-old Tammy Davis, blonde and fat, with pink rouge on her cheeks in two perfect circles the size of shot glasses. I could imagine her sitting on a shambled-down sofa, her lips on that metal, a sharp burst of smoke. Then all was fast floating, her kids way behind, as she shot back to junior high, when the boys still cared and she was the prettiest, a glossy-lipped thirteen-year-old who mouthed cinnamon sticks before she kissed. A belly. A smell. Cigarettes and old coffee. My editor, esteemed, weary Frank Curry, rocking back in his cracked Hush Puppies. His teeth soaked in brown tobacco saliva. "Where are you on the s
From the Publisher
FROM THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF GONE GIRL
Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, reporter Camille Preaker faces a troubling assignment: she must return to her tiny hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. For years, 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 in her old bedroom in her family's Victorian mansion, Camille finds herself identifying with the young victims—a bit too strongly. Dogged by her own demons, she must unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past if she wants to get the story—and survive this homecoming.
About the Author
GILLIAN FLYNN is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Gone Girl and the New York Times bestsellers Dark Places and Sharp Objects. A former writer and critic for Entertainment Weekly, her work has been published in 42 countries. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER“A first novel that reads like the accomplished work of a long-time pro, the book draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction...Flynn's book goes deeper than your average thriller. It has all the narrative drive of a serious pop novel and much of the psychological complexity of a mainstream character study. All in all, a terrific debut.”—Alan Cheuse, The Chicago Tribune“A compulsively readable psychological thriller that marks [a] dazzling debut...[Flynn] has written a clever crime story with astonishing twists and turns, and enough suspense for the most demanding fans of the genre. But it is the sensitive yet disturbing depiction of her heroine that makes this an especially engrossing story...Flynn's empathic understanding of her major characters leads to storytelling that is sure and true, and it marks her a write to watch.”—Chicago Sun-Times“To say this is a terrific debut novel is really too mild. I haven't read such a relentlessly creepy family saga since John Farris's All Heads Turn as the Hunt Goes By, and that was thirty years ago, give or take. Sharp Objects isn't one of those scare-and-retreat books; its effect is cumulative. I found myself dreading the last thirty pages or so but was helpless to stop turning them. Then, after the lights were out, the story just stayed there in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave. An admirably nasty piece of work, elevated by sharp writing and sharper insig
A Reader’s Guide for Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
For additional features, visit www.gillian-flynn.com.
In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of the plot of this novel. If you have not finished reading Sharp Objects, we respectfully suggest that you wait before reviewing this guide.
A second-rate reporter for a fourth-rate newspaper, Camille Preaker returns to the tiny, troubled town of her childhood in search of her breakout story. The lead: A murderer is targeting young girls in gruesome fashion. It’s the kind of dark-hearted crime coverage that’s right up her alley—in the last place she’d choose to go.
Wind Gap, Missouri, is ill-equipped to solve murders, unaccustomed to the media coverage a public crime attracts. But its citizens are well acquainted with private cruelty, violence, and pain . . . as Camille rediscovers while she investigates the murders and her own dark past. Through the distorted lenses of drugs, deceit, and long-held resentment, she begins to piece together a horrifying story that hits closer to home than she ever expected.
Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Soon after arriving in Wind Gap, Camille reflects, “Curry was wrong: Being an insider was more distracting than useful.” What exactly was Curry wrong about? What advantages did he think Camille’s “insider” status would bring with it? Was he, ultimately, wrong?
2. After ten years of abstinence, what is it that motivates Camille’s promiscuity during her return to Wind Gap? What do you make of her choice of partners—both relative outsiders in the town?
3. Does Camille deliberately sabotage her relationship with Richard? Could they have made a good couple?
4. Driving through Wind Gap, Camille describes the character of each distinct section of town, including its architecture: often poorly executed renovations and new construction. What do you make of her critiques? How are their homes symbolic of the people of Wind Gap?
5. Does Amma feel real affection for Camille? What are her motivations for getting closer to Camille?
6. What similarities do you see between Camille and Amma? What similarities do you think Camille sees?
7. Why is Amma so obsessed with her dollhouse? What significance does it hold for her?
8. Camille is addicted to “cutting,” a form of self-harm. Why do you think she specifically cuts words into her skin?
9. Camille is shocked when her suspicions about Marian’s illnesses are confirmed. Do you think she believes Adora deliberately killed Marian? Do you believe Marian’s death was intentional?
10. Is there goodness in Adora? Are there any moments when she seems to you more human, or more kind?
11. How would you describe Alan—a man who, as Camille says, never sweats—living among so much anxiety? Do you see this type of contrast—between cleanliness and filth, order and disorder—elsewhere in the book?
12. The story about cutting off her own hair before school-picture day is attributed both to Ann and to Camille. Why do you think the author makes this connection?
13. Discuss the role of substance abuse in the book. How does it define the characters, their behavior, and the town of Wind Gap? How does it contribute to the telling of the story, as the focus—and the substances themselves—intensify during the course of the book?
14. Discuss the theme of violence throughout the book, including animal slaughter, sexual assault, cutting, biting, and, of course, murder. What do you make of the way residents of Wind Gap respond to violence?
15. “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?
16. Why does Camille allow herself to be poisoned by Adora?
17. In describing her crimes, Amma recalls happy, “wild” times with Ann and Natalie. Why isn’t Amma able to keep these girls as friends? Do their violent undercurrents doom these friendships to fail, or could they have been overcome?
18. As a reporter, Camille often has to distinguish between original quotes and quotes that are influenced by “true crime” dramas. What is the author saying about our society and our exposure to crime stories? Are the police working the case also guilty of this pop-culture shorthand?
19. At the end of the book, Camille isn’t certain of her answer to one key question: “Was I good at caring for Amma because of kindness? Or did I like caring for Amma because I have Adora’s sickness?” What is your opinion?
20. 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?