In my Gone Girl review for Bookbitch.com I noted that "Anyone familiar with Gillian Flynn’s books knows that things are never what they seem at the outset." It's true of Gone Girl. It's true of Dark Places. It's true of Sharp Objects. And it's certainly true of Flynn's latest release, The Grownup.
Originally published as "What Do You Do?" as part of George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois's Rogues anthology, The Grownup has now been released as a stand alone novella from Crown.
In the story, a nameless narrator who makes a living giving hand jobs transitions to psychic readings (the business, Spiritual Palms, offers both) and gets hired to cleanse a house.
Susan Burke isn't like all the other women who come in to have their fortunes told. She's smart, obviously rich but not ostentatious, and believes her life is falling apart. But it's not her marriage or her job. No, it's her new home and what she believes it's doing to her stepson - a teen she's grown wary and afraid of since the move. She's come to Spiritual Palms after discovering a business card in the hopes that they can help. But some things are beyond helping.
The Grownup is SUPER FABULOUS FUN! I'm not kidding. It's short (under 70 pages) and snappy, a story you can definitely devour in one sitting (another bonus for this time of year). It's deliciously dark, as you'd expect of Flynn's work if you've read her, and twisted, also as you'd expect. And, as I noted above, it's not what you think it is.
I've been busy, busy, busy. I have a new-ish job (I've been there a year but have been promoted) and have been trying to get ready for the holidays. Plus there's been LIFE stuff (not fun LIFE stuff by any means, but responsible grown up LIFE stuff) to deal with. All that's meant to say is that I needed the break The Grownup (and all my other reading) offered. I was guessing all the way to the end, and am still guessing just a little bit. There's wiggle room for theorizing at the end for sure. I'm a little surprised to see the story getting mixed reviews, but honestly Flynn's work has kind of always been like that. For me, it simply (and completely) hit the spot.
Like any Flynn tale, to say too much is to risk giving things away and I definitely don't want to do that. But if you're a Flynn fan - or have a Flynn fan on your holiday gift list - it is definitely a perfect addition to your collection.