Next-in-Reading #5: Sharp Objects

Next In ReadingTitle: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Year: 2006
Publisher: Phoenix

“Someday I may visit a surgeon, see what can be done to smooth me, but now I couldn’t bear the reaction. Instead I drink so I don’t think too much about what I’ve done to my body and so I don’t do anymore.” 

Many thanks to Ken Liu for recommending Gillian Flynn!
Many thanks to Ken Liu for recommending Gillian Flynn!

Camille Preaker, a journalist in a mid-level newspaper in Chicago, reluctantly returns home to Wind Gap, where a girl was found dead and another, still missing. Convinced that this story was going to bring the Chicago Post into the big leagues, her editor sends her back, not knowing that it was going to be an investigation more twisted than she could imagine.


Camille Preaker, Unsuspecting Victim

Estranged from her family in Wind Gap, Camille is portrayed as an independent being leaving a superficial life. Previously a cutter, she might have been driven to do so to replace the psychological scars she obtained from her mother’s (Adora Crellin) mistreatment (subtle poisoning, constant reminders of why she was not loved by her mother).

Camille turns out to be rather hardy – unafraid to take risks and question. Could this be the result of having to look after herself since childhood or something enhanced through pure journalistic prowess?

However, there are also instances where she lets her insecurities let slip. The fact that she is still affected by her sister’s death (after more than a decade) and her mother’s declaration of, “This is why I don’t love you, Camille…”, does show that she questions herself on why.

Amma Crellin, Starry-Eyed Sociopath

Half-sister of Camille, and the apple of Adora’s eye.

Like the media-portrayed daughters of the Joneses, she is hungry for the attention of the world – her parents, her half-sister, boys in school, and basically for everyone in school to bow down to her influence. This turns her into someone manipulative, mirroring that of a diva, who picks and chooses how her future is going to happen with devious punishments to whoever who does not follow.

At the same time, she does demonstrate the phrase of “keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer”. Like Adora, she sees Camille as an obstacle to her influence, and thus, plays the victimised pre-teen to lead Camille away from the real murderer.

To paraphrase Amma, she was not going to stand for someone else getting more love and attention than her.


Social Class…

Apart from the tension unveiled in the community of Wind Gap, what was rather obvious was the importance of social class. Despite it being shown as a quiet town and relatively cohesive community, Camille’s investigation shows otherwise.

Social divide in Wind Gap is not only distinct, it hurts the community as well. There were many instances of life comparisons, talking about marriages, families, ladies’ clubs, the lot. However, what was rather disturbing about the community itself was how families of the victims were more willing to help Camille with information until they find out about her background.

Another case was how Amma, with her inherited influence and resources, is able to manipulate other girls of “lesser status” to do her bidding. This is to the point of committing murder and silencing others who threaten to expose her.

Lastly, the case of Adora Crellin. Being arrested for gradually murdering her daughter to appear to be Mother of the Year, her status and influence has protected her from investigation – she spared no effort and all costs caring for her daughter, how could she kill her?

Style & Structure

Like many crime fiction or thriller novels, Sharp Objects is written in the first person, providing a deeper, personal perspective. Camille’s past is not told, but hinted through her thoughts – words carving themselves on areas on her body. Thus, it provides a view into Camille’s life without having to sit through an infodump.

To find out more about Gillian Flynn, click here. To find out more about Sharp Objects, click here.

In the meantime…

It's been a while since I've read a full-length local novel. So why not?
It’s been a while since I’ve read a full-length local novel. So why not?

And I’ll see you next week!Blanket Fortress Logo


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