“I’m a self-didact. (Not a dirty word, look it up.) I read constantly. I think. But I lack formal education. So I’m left with the feeling that I’m smarter than everyone around me but that if I ever got around really smart people—people who went to universities and drank wine and spoke Latin—that they’d be bored as hell by me. It’s a lonely way to go through life.”
This was an okay little novella. I picked it up on a whim and I really enjoyed the beginning, but the end fell kind of flat for me.
The tone of this book is quintessential Gilliam Flynn. We have a nameless, rough around the edges, calculating, intelligent female narrator, lacking moral qualms about things like sex, scams, and lies. I love that premise. She always writes real, gritty voices that really hook the reader. There is always an element of mystery and anticipation, because her narrators are unreliable.
This time was no different. And, I actually really liked the narrator in the beginning. Other than the giving handjobs for a living 😂, I felt like I even connected with her in some ways. Her outlook on people, life, education, reading, and ambition, were all actually very relatable for me. Not sure what that says about me, but I really enjoyed reading it.
Once the book switched into more of a thriller, though, with the main narrator trying to help a sad woman with her haunted house and psychopathic stepson, the story kind of became generic for me. It had all of the “possessed evil child” tropes, as well as the typical “finding out about the house’s dark past” moments. I actually thought that would be too boring for Flynn, so I called the first twist about the sad woman, Susan, actually conning the narrator. I figured out pretty quickly that she must be faking it for some reason to lure the narrator in, probably something to do with her husband. So, when that was revealed, I was pretty underwhelmed.
However, that was not that last twist and I really did not see the ending coming. It was interesting and I appreciated how ambiguous it was. We never really know what happened or who was lying, Susan or the stepson, but I liked that. It felt right for the story. And, in the end, the narrator decides it doesn’t matter, because she is going to turn the whole situation around and use it for her own gain. I definitely liked how it came full circle and the narrator shucked off her newfound ideas of helping people. Who needs those?? 😂
I do feel like this could have benefited from a few more pages. I know it’s a short story/novella, but everything happened so fast in the middle and it was underdeveloped to really have an impact. So, overall, three stars. I really liked the beginning and I liked the main character. The middle was boring and predictable. I liked the very end. I liked the murky moral and how it is pretty much fuck people.
Side note: I chose this, because I wanted to give audiobooks another try (I am not a fan of them and have not listened to one in yearssss), so I figured something short would be a good option. I enjoyed listening to it 🤷♀️. It’s definitely convenient, so I will probably try to utilize it more while I am cleaning or walking the dog, or driving. Still not my favorite, though. I just feel like I don’t connect with the characters or the actual writing as much through an audiobook, as I would actually reading the text. And I CAN”T STAND the silly voices the narrators have to do for characters. It truly makes me cringe and I can’t even concentrate on the story at that point. I figure for stories that are more plot driven, like mysteries or thrillers, I might continue to give audiobooks a try, but not for anything that I actually want to get immersed in.
But, back to The Grownup: it’s worth the read, but certainly not the best!
Thank you for reading!