The Grownup: A Story by Gillian Flynn
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ MUST READ!
Did you know that Gillian Flynn, author of the sensational Gone Girl, Sharp Objects, and Dark Places wrote a novella called The Grownup? I had no idea, but it is genius! This quick read is just as psychologically twisted as her other works and packs a punch the same way her novels do.
An unnamed narrator who was raised as a grifter, beggar, and ultimately a con artist has recently moved up in the world, not by choice but by necessity, from sex worker to a phony palm-reading, fortune-telling scam artist who makes a living telling people what they want to hear. The narrator, a clever young woman decides to branch out into the home cleansing business for extra, easy money when she meets a woman who claims to be terrified of her stepson. The house they recently moved into seems haunted and the woman’s fear makes her the perfect mark for a scammer.
What was supposed to be a simple job, one that would pay her to lounge around a nice house all day and read, quickly becomes twisted and worrisome. The mysterious stepson is just as evil as described and now threatening that something awful is coming. This story is about an intriguing character, who runs a scam better than anyone, until she meets her match. The unreliable narrator, scams so well that she can even trick herself into thinking she’s not being conned herself.
I know that some will feel the story was rushed or that they wanted more character development, but this is a novella. The story is all about the narrator, her two-sided view of the world, her sense of self, and her way of life. There is a villain, but it’s up to the reader to decide who it is.
The setting — the haunted house — looms largely and sets the mood perfectly for a spooky tale like this. In fact, the story takes place in three different hoses/businesses that all represent two distinct sides, the good and the bad, the new and the old, safety and danger. The palm reading shop is tasteful in the front and questionable and shady in the back room. The house is old, antique, but remodeled and redone, representing the two very different people living there that don’t meld and ultimately don’t work together. The hotel in the end has two rooms that are joined by a door, calling on similarities between the two villains with an adjoining wall, yet keeping them separate.
The story is built on the parallels between the two con artists, and the light and dark in all of us. The unnamed narrator is manipulative, but not evil. The boy is manipulative but doesn’t actually do the harm he threatens. It’s up to the reader to determine the truth about who the villain really is.
Click here to purchase The Grownup, by Gillian Flynn.
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