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Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

Sharp Objects leaves readers with lots to ponder

“Sometimes I think illness sits inside every woman, waiting for the right moment to bloom.” Written by the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects tells the story of a journalist, Camille Preaker, going back to her hometown in the bootheel of Missouri to investigate the murders of two young girls. However, returning home means returning to her distant mother, Adora, and her teenage sister, Amma. The memory of Marion, Camille’s deceased sister also haunts the house that she comes home to. The murders of the two girls are disturbing, but the relationships between mother and daughter, as well as the sisters, both living and dead, may be the most unsettling part of Gillian Flynn’s award-winning debut.

The influence of both environment and family in childhood is prominent, and the novel highlights this. When one returns to where one grew up, it’s like trying to turn back time. Camille steps back into Wind Gap, and is simultaneously in her teens and in her thirties. She’s welcomed back by some of the townsfolk, but she’s no longer one of them. Camille has become an outsider, fighting through the waves of nostalgia that spring up. 

Camille’s family doesn’t help matters. She has a difficult relationship with her mother, her stepfather is a wallflower, and she barely knows her little sister. Camille’s complicated relationships with Amma and Adora are a focus of the novel, and the reader watches as Camille’s attempts to bond with her family slowly become inextricably linked to the crime she was sent to report on.

 The memories and feelings Camille tries to repress float throughout the story, letting the reader gather information about Camille as a kid and in turn how the things she experienced shaped her. The reader also learns about Camille’s long-dead sister, Marion, who haunts the narrative. She was only a child when she died, but her death changed Camille and Adora. In changing them, Marion’s death has also affected Amma although they never met. The trauma from that experience contributes to Camille’s rage and to the trauma that links these women. 

Camille’s mental illness also significantly impacts the story as she struggles to stay clean from her obsessive-compulsive self harm. This ties back into the title of the novel, Sharp Objects, because Camille feels the need to self harm so strongly that she will use any available object to carve words into her body, turning all of her anger in on herself. The show doesn’t shy away from this aspect of Camille’s storyline, but it doesn’t glamorize or dramatize her self harm either. 

The show adaptation is a rather faithful adaptation of the novel, staying true to the themes and feelings of the original story. Incorporating music as a form of escape for some characters as well as a narrative device helped to create a more visceral experience for both the audience and the characters. Another addition to the tv show was the use of roller skating. Amma and her friends would roller skate throughout town, adding a sense of innocence and childishness to their personalities and actions. It creates eeriness; the two girls murdered were around the same age as Amma and the other girls, yet they continue carelessly skating, unafraid of their potential to be the next victims.

Gillian Flynn’s inspiration lies within the idea of female rage and the violence that springs from it, specifically how it is passed from generation to generation, mothers to daughters. “Women get consumed.” Camille’s very own rage comes from within herself, as well as from her mother, who had helped put it there. Adora’s rage also seems to be passed down from her mother, too, proving cruelness to run through the generations of these women. Amma, unfortunately, is not spared. “A child weaned on poison considers harm a comfort.”

“Rotting America.” The Southern Gothic is a prevalent theme within the text, with the eery small town feel, sweet southern accents telling each other, “bless your heart!”, the sound of squealing pigs in Adora’s slaughterhouse a distant noise, and the continuous sense of impending violence, rot, and doom. In the tradition of Flannery O’Connor, Zora Neale Hurston, Tennessee Williams, and many other Southern Gothic authors, Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects proves to be a modern Southern Gothic classic.

The bone chilling feeling throughout Sharp Objects makes it difficult for the reader to look away, even knowing that what happens next won’t be positive. It’s almost like watching a car crash, knowing that something awful is taking place but not being able to look away. This, along with the effective writing style, makes the novel enthralling.