I have never had the pleasure of reading anything written by Gillian Flynn. As everyone rushed to read Gone Girl and Dark Places, I was off on a different literary adventure. It was entirely by chance that I stumbled upon her book at the local library and flipped it open to the first page. The opening line read, “I didn’t stop giving hand jobs because I wasn’t good at it. I stopped giving hand jobs because I was the best at it.”
Don’t ask me why the opening line encouraged me to take it home. I can’t even remember what day it was but I know that on this particular day, bold opening lines were sending me home with pocket-sized books tucked neatly in a canvas bag. It was a day to be different, to be bold, to taste a new story.
The Grownup is a thrilling tale about a manipulative, opportunistic, yet perspicacious woman who works in a brothel of sorts in the back of a psychic shop called Spiritual Palms. In the first few pages, you receive much of her backstory: her cunning mother who taught her how to prey on passersby while masquerading as beggars. She paints an illustrious tale about how she gained her “insight”, her ability to read others, and her expertise through this experience with her mother – it’s the reason she considers herself intelligent and ambitious. Throughout the story ( all sixty-four pages of it) the character’s pride in her own abilities remains constant and is, what I believe, the reason for what happens to her in the end. Hubris is no man’s friend.
The story takes off when Susan Burke enters the Spiritual Palm seeking advice regarding the behavior of her step-son, Miles. Burke is a desperate woman in distress who believes their house is haunted and that this haunting is affecting her step-son. She makes the perfect victim for the protagonist, who sees this as an opportunity to get rich.
As she visits Burke’s home and meets her step-son Miles, who says and does disturbing things throughout the story, she begins to question whether her initial assumptions that the house was likely not haunted ( and that Burke was simply an unhappy, scared housewife), were wrong.
I’m not going to lie. There were times when reading this book that I felt on edge and eager to figure out what the heck was going on. As the story progressed, small details were stacking up. I found myself wondering where the story was going.
Surely Gillian couldn’t deliver a reasonable explanation in the last four pages or so? She did and it wasn’t at all what I expected.
If you like reads that resemble little slices of thrills, this book is for you. If you like to sit at the edge of your seat, wondering eagerly and equally dreading the conclusion, this book is for you.
If you enjoy crude opening lines leading to surprising psychological twists, endings that leave you reeling with the realization that you will NEVER know, 100%, who was behind it all, this book is for you.
Want to know more about Gillian Flynn or The Grownup? Satisfy your curiosity: http://gillian-flynn.com/the-grownup/