The Grown Up
by Gillian Flynn
Published: 5th November 2015
A young woman is making a living faking it as a cut-price psychic (with some illegal soft-core sec work on the side). She makes a decent wage mostly by telling people what they want to hear. But then she meets Susan Burke.
Susan moved to the city one year ago with her husband and 15-year-old stepson Miles. They live in a Victorian house called Caterhook Manor. Susan has become convinced that some malevolent spirit is inhabiting their home. The young woman doesn’t believe in exorcism or the supernatural. However when she enters the house for the first time, she begins to feel it too, as if the very house is watching her, waiting, biding its time…
Honestly, I didn’t know this book existed until I spotted it in Tesco back in November. When I saw it, I bought it without knowing what it was about and only scanning the blurb. Why? Well, because Gillian Flynn is an auto-buy author for me. I’ve loved her previous works – with only Sharp Objects to read – and I wanted to collect whatever I could.
The Grown Up is actually a short story, it’s under 100 pages and so I read it within an hour. My first concerns, as with any short stories or novels with a shorter page length, is how well the author can deliver a fulfilling story within such a short time. Flynn knocks this one out of the park, and I was left feeling like I’d had the full effects of one of her complete works.
As I went into the book without knowing too much about it, I would suggest to you to do the same. I feel that it brings something extra to this incredible story going into it a little blind, and with good faith that it delivers. What I can tell you is that despite its length, there are plenty of moments that I laughed, shivered and gasped. Now, when I pick up a Flynn novel, I’m expecting some sort of shocking plot twist, and she always delivers one effortlessly. They’re never what I’m expecting and I can never see them coming. That’s what I love most about her novels.
One thing that stood out to me whilst reading this story was the overwhelming love I have for Flynn’s characters. They’re fresh, original and they always have a little more than meets the eye. The protagonist in this piece is fantastic, brutally honest and completely unashamed of the way she goes about things. Even in this short story, her characters have many dimensions and each has a specific function in the piece. The descriptions of each are really funny at times, especially in The Grown-Up because they’re assumptions made by the protagonist that she’s deduced from the persons image. This then evokes a clear image in my mind of how they look, and so using stereotypes to an advantage by creating strong imagery for her readers.
The plot is well thought out, and executed flawlessly – it drew me in, kept me guessing and like all of her novels most importantly it made me want more. The narrative in this story is full of twists and turns, leaving you feeling like you’re not fully sure what happens. Lots of deceit and enigmatic moments are the cause of this – but I loved that, it left me able to make my own mind up about what had happened. I’d been suffering from a reading slump before choosing this as my first read of 2016 and I must say it’s given me the bug back and I want to go and read more.
Overall, from this somewhat vague review – I highly encourage fans of Gillian Flynn to pick up this short story. I found mine for only £2 and would gladly pay that again. If you’ve never read any of her previous works, then this would be a great place to start. It’s perfect for anyone that loves a thrilling, shocking plot but is short on time too, ideal for commuters. The Grown Up won the Edgar award for short stories, and I think it’s very much deserving.
Recommended for all that love Flynn’s work, and for anyone looking for a dark and twisted tale.