What I’m Reading: Sharp Objects

Sharp ObjectsFrom the book jacket:

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.

My review:

This is by far the deepest, darkest read of the Gillian Flynn “trilogy,” and as disturbing as it was I couldn’t put it down. I have no idea where Flynn’s headspace was at when she penned this one, but whoa…

The characters are all NOT OKAY, from 30-something year old Camille to little Amma and her cronies, but I still was desperate to know how much more messed up these individuals would become. (Answer: Waaaaaaaaay more.) I was able to kind-of-sort-of figure out who commits the murders, but the twist (because there has to be a twist) was perfect, not over the top, and explained a lot of the characters’ behaviours.

One relationship I had a bit of trouble understanding was the one between Camille and her boss, Curry. Overall, Curry seems genuinely concerned about Camille’s well-being given her past, so I struggle with why he’d give her this assignment. I understand that she has an “in” as the events being covered happened in her hometown, but did he now realize the damage this place had caused Camille growing up?

Aside from that, the remainder of the relationships in this story are beyond healthy, creeping me out in an oddly-satisfying way. I don’t even think Dr. Phil could handle the crazy of these characters.

In all honesty, I’m not certain Sharp Objects is for everyone. It’s extremely dark and a lot of the content I think would make your average reader extremely uncomfortable. Still, I was absorbed by it and thought it was disturbingly good.

My rating: ★★★★★/5.

 

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What I’m Reading: Sorry Not Sorry

From the book jacket:

Sorry Not SorryIs this all there is? I hadn’t had so much as a sniff of a shag for over a year. I scraped the last dregs of Caramel Chew Chew ice cream out of the bottom of the tub with my finger and licked it. It left a sticky smear on my phone’s screen when I typed into Google, “How to find love, sex and happiness.” 

Charlotte has always been a good girl. 

She sorts her paper from her plastic. She eats her greens (even Spirulina, whatever that is). Boozy brunches with her best friends on the third Sunday of every month are about as bad as she gets. 

But being good is getting boring… 

Charlotte’s not just stuck in a rut – she’s buried in it up to her chin. The only company she has in bed is the back catalogue of Netflix and falling in love feels like the stuff of fairy tales. So when she stumbles across a popular podcast, Sorry Not Sorry, which challenges women to embrace their inner bad girl, she jumps at the chance to shake things up. 

Old Charlotte would never ask for a stranger’s number, go on a blind date or buy lacy lingerie… But New Charlotte is waving goodbye to her comfort zone (with a side order of margaritas). And it turns out that good things happen to bad girls, as Charlotte finally finds her Mr Right – or so she thinks… Is falling in love too tough a challenge even for Charlotte? 

My review:

I was itching to read something light and not overly serious, and Sorry Not Sorry hit the mark for me. It reminded me a lot of Sophie Kinsella’s works, actually, and I wasn’t upset about that.

The idea behind the plot was clever enough: Charlotte sees her long-time friends/roommates shacking up and getting hitched and wonders where her life is headed, so she decides after listening to a podcast to make a change.

It’s odd, because while I felt there was something missing, there was a LOT going on with all the various subplots between friends, lovers, and work. Either bits could have been omitted or more depth could have put into it to make it fully developed. (Such as the whole Tansy/Renzo bit. Hell, I’ll even admit that I’m toying with the idea of reading the “sequel” to figure out what’s going on there.)

Still, I thought Sorry Not Sorry was just fine enough for what I was looking to read.

My rating: ★★★½/5

What I’m Reading: Mrs. Everything

Mrs. EverythingFrom the book jacket:

Do we change or does the world change us?

Jo and Bethie Kaufman were born into a world full of promise.

Growing up in 1950s Detroit, they live in a perfect “Dick and Jane” house, where their roles in the family are clearly defined. Jo is the tomboy, the bookish rebel with a passion to make the world more fair; Bethie is the pretty, feminine good girl, a would-be star who enjoys the power her beauty confers and dreams of a traditional life.

But the truth ends up looking different from what the girls imagined. Jo and Bethie survive traumas and tragedies. As their lives unfold against the background of free love and Vietnam, Woodstock and women’s lib, Bethie becomes an adventure-loving wild child who dives headlong into the counterculture and is up for anything (except settling down). Meanwhile, Jo becomes a proper young mother in Connecticut, a witness to the changing world instead of a participant. Neither woman inhabits the world she dreams of, nor has a life that feels authentic or brings her joy. Is it too late for the women to finally stake a claim on happily ever after?

In her most ambitious novel yet, Jennifer Weiner tells a story of two sisters who, with their different dreams and different paths, offer answers to the question: How should a woman be in the world?

My review:

Okay, while I didn’t LOVE love Mrs. Everything I did really enjoy it and had the hardest time putting it down some nights. It’s more than a book about women’s rights and by the end I found myself tearing up just a little because I found myself relating to it.

I think if I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would precisely be “Relatable.” I don’t believe there was a single women’s issue that was glanced over in this book, and at some point any female (or perhaps even male) reader can stop and think, “Wait, I’ve been there. I can relate.” From the desperate housewife to the liberated feminist, there was a trait you could identify with.

Jennifer Weiner managed to blend all these different issues in a way that wasn’t choppy or unbelievable. You have to remind yourself while reading that the storyline takes place in a time where there was no #LoveIsLove or #MeToo. You weren’t free to love whomever you wanted (male, female, Christian, Jew, African-American, etc.) and unwanted sexual advances were something that were swept under the rug and kept quiet with hush money.

It’s important to remember that even though the main storyline takes place 50-60 year ago, we are still fighting a lot of the same issues. Mrs. Everything is an important read to remind us of that the past isn’t necessary in the past.

My rating: ★★★★/5