“Empathetic silence is one of the most underused weapons in the world.” ― Gillian Flynn,
A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.
Eden: I’ve read The Grownup twice now and I’ve enjoyed it thoroughly both times. We’ve struggled a little getting some discussions up recently, but this story was the perfect kickoff to getting us back into it. Gillian Flynn is just a writer I will always enjoy, even when it’s a 64 page story. 4/5 stars.
Caitlynn: I am so glad this is the book we decided to begin our Saturday discussions back with. It was the perfect book to get us to jump back into reading again. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of short stories, I will always love Flynn’s writing style and her ability to bring anything to life. I hope that she starts releasing more books soon so that I can get my fix! I gave this a 4/5 stars.
Jenn: Okay, so I love short stories. I also love Gillian Flynn so I was super excited for this read. It was also perfect to start off our spooooky month of discussions. This was not my favorite of Gillian Flynn’s work. I thoroughly enjoyed it but it seemed to lack the hard hitting ending I enjoy from Flynn’s writing. Overall I gave it 3/5 stars.
Eden: So, I think this was a really good Halloween read because it’s meant to be kind of spooky. Which is so specific to Gillian Flynn.
Caitlynn: I was thinking that while I was reading this. This is the perfect read for the first of October. This is a great start to the Halloween month.
E: Exactly, how did you like it?
C: I liked it. You guys know how I feel about short stories, but I did like it.
Jenn: It made me want to read the anthology that it was written for.
E: Yeah, George R.R. Martin started this anthology.
J: He put everything together.
C: I saw that she put a dedication to him.
J: What Do You Do is the anthology.
E: I think it’s funny though, I really like the story and I gave it 4 stars, but so many people hhave complaied about how they do’t like the ending.
C: I gave it 4 as well.
J: I gave it 3.
E: Why did you give it 3?
J: I wished that she stuck with one rendition of the story, either the step-son was the issue OR the mother was the issue. I wish it was a little more ambiguous. Since it wasn’t, it made it feel a little less intense. It felt more like a kid telling a story instead of an actual sociopath holding a vendetta.
E: Yeah, I get that. Also, the main character is an idiot.
E: When he is lining everything up for her and he tells her about the cat’s tail…
C: Yeah, you are going to notice the difference between the two.
J: And then they bring that up at the end when she is trying to figure out who to believe.
E: I didn’t like that, but I did like what Jenn didn’t like, the fact that it was ambiguous.
C: I was about to say that as well, I liked what she tried to do there, but I think it could have been pulled off better.
E: Yeah, it was really heavy-handed.
J: I feel like if she would have made it ambiguous in a way like of her leaving the house and not having one of them with her and piecing it together herself. But because she has taken and committed to going with the step-son. It takes away from all the effects and all the little pieces that happen throughout the middle of the story.
E: I agree with that entirely.
E, also: What I liked about this a lot is going back to Flynn’s writing. Going back to Gone Girl I really enjoyed it because of her writing. Her writing style is just so distinct.
J: She has a very distinct voice with her writing.
E: Yeah, and I also think that looking back to this you can jump right back into her writing.
J: It reminds me of Chuck Palahniuk, where I’m going to throw a lot of information at you and I’m not going to give you a bunch of flowery details or descriptions.
C: It makes me want to read more, but I don’t know when she plans on releasing more.
E: Have you read all of her books?
E: She’s a good author and I really like her as an author.
J: I still have to read Dark Places.
E: Me too.
J: So I originally read this book immediately after reading Gone Girl and I think that really influenced my thoughts on the book when I first rated it. The reveal in Gone Girl was just so hard hitting and smacks you in the face and the aftermath is huge impact and I didn’t get the same feelings when reading this book.
C: Reading it now, how do you feel?
J: Reading it now, I appreciate the character of the step-son but I wouldn’t want a full book featuring the main character.
E: I think the main issue is Flynn is more of a thriller author and this to me is more horror. I think thrillers need more time to progress and she wasn’t able to incorporate enough into this short story.
J: I disagree and think it is still a thriller to me. I think a thriller is more of an anticipation of a lead-up to a particular instance. I think the thing that bothered me the most was the once she did the reveal at the end, she watered everything else down.
E: The quick explanation got me.
J: It wasn’t so much of that for me as it was Flynn was kind of like, well maybe not!
E: Some parts were just too easy to tie-up.
J: We didn’t want to give you any kind of theory to end on, but here’s a nice bow.