“I didn’t stop giving hand jobs because I wasn’t good at it. I stopped giving hand jobs because I was the best at it.” That first two opening lines immediately got me very intrigued with this book. I mean, Who would not? It’s a curiosity-raising and attention-grabbing start that really got me hooked until the end.
Oh Gillian Flynn, if I only knew that you write this good I should have read your works when they first came out. I felt like I was living under a rock for not being able to read any of your works after finishing this one. I mean, I have heard about you of course and have had every intention of picking up one of her books but you always gets bumped to the bottom of my reading pile. To be honest, the main reason why I bought this is because I was looking for a quick read book and I happen to get my hand to it. I didn’t know that this book will be a sharply written book. I must say that the hype is true with your works.
Before this book, Gillian Flynn’s last book was Gone Girl, which has been very successful. When it was released it was devoured by book clubs, sold millions of copies and became one of the most talked about books. A movie was also released based from the novel with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike playing the lead characters.
A short story written for George R.R. Martin’s Rogues anthology in 2014 and here released as a standalone volume, The Grownup, which originally titled as “What Do You Do?”, is a psychological thriller about a woman, our unnamed narrator, who was raised as an scam artist and upon seeing a chance to leave her light sex work (giving hand jobs) moved to become a psychic who just tells people what they want to hear. Her natural empathy, being manipulative and a keen observer of human behavior helped her make her new work very easy.
Her background will tell that she’s a smart and ambitious woman. She believes that she is smarter than everyone around her but believes that if she ever “got around really smart people – people who went to universities and drank wine and spoke Latin – that they’d be bored as hell.” She loves to read books and often do little chats with her customers about books. But the petty crimes that she did growing up barred her from getting into white collar jobs.
Then came Susan Burke, a rich woman in distress, the perfect victim for her schemes and whom she sees as a way to go legit. Susan came very terrified telling all the things that is happening at their house she wants help desperately. Susan believes that there is something evil lurking in their house and it is affecting the behavior of her teenage stepson, Miles, who acts disturbingly. Believing that Susan is a great catch from where she can milk money and get to introduce herself to other woman whom she sees herself mingling with, the narrator offered to visit the house to cleanse the aura of it, with of course, for a much higher fee. What seems like a normal visit to the family’s Victorian house, the Carterhook Manor, the narrator was introduced an unsettling site and gets tangled up to a family far different than what she imagined. It became a battle of who’s telling the truth and who’s pretending and who’s not. Is the house really haunted? The predator becomes now the prey.
“She defines and eliminates problems. She’s practical in an evil way.”
― Gillian Flynn, The Grownup
Prior to reading the book, I have doubts whether a sixty-four page novel will work. It did though at some areas, but, as I was expecting, failed in some. The novel is a good little story with twist after twist after twist. The author was able to make the story solid with a couple of big reveals though I think that if the book was given more length and expanded, Flynn could have made this novel even more engaging. Though strong and believable, being short, the characters were also not given more depth and dimension. I wish it could be much longer because the novel deserves it to be. There are a lot of areas that I believe would have worked better with a longer frame like for instance, Susan’s family and their history and the background of their Victorian house. Sixty-four pages is not really enough to accommodate it all. After reading it, I felt like there are a lot of information that were contained and just wants to be released. But nonetheless, the novel is an enjoyable read.
The book introduced me as to how Gillian Flynn writes and I must say, she really is a good storyteller. I haven’t read any of Gillian Flynn’s work and I am now very intrigued. Because if she writes this good with just a 64-page work, I wonder how she does with her much thicker books. I like how her writing played with my mind and connected to me in an odd but good way. She wrote the book with a perfect blend of comedy and chills. I like how the chill and thrill escalated as I read the book. She crafted these dark mentally messed up characters, she set up the eerie mood by her vivid description then make you guess at the end and question your own judgment.
I can’t tell if the novel’s ambiguous ending worked for me but one thing is for sure, it left me totally perplexed. It has no direction and the twists and reveals leading to the end were a complete surprise. The ending is for the readers to interpret. The reading experience the author gave me is so surreal. I do hope that she expands this novel as this book left me wanting more. It has a strong beginning and ending but middle part seems rushed. Well we can’t blame her, the book is meant to become a short story. But overall, The Grownup is makes an impressive filler to keep fans engaged while waiting for the author’s next full-length book.
Innately frightening and sensationally creepy. I totally recommend this.
4 stars out of 5.
Author: Gillian Flynn
Part of a Series: Standalone
Release Year: November 2015
No. of Pages: 64 pages
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