Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Let me start out by saying I have been reading children’s literature since I was a freshman in college as a welcome reprieve from the torturous, exhausting life of adulthood. It was a wonderful tradition I lovingly hold on to. The children’s books of today are not what they were when I was that age!
After reading the first few pages, nay, the first long paragraph, I realized why I love kids’ lit… it’s happy. Not all of it. Actually, most is not. Take Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events book series. Living is hard enough; try switching into a new anything, and dealing with your associated adults’ lives and the negative it brings into the mix. Makes for good “angst.” It’s a good word for teenagers, but it crops up much earlier than that.
Which is quite apparent in this book. But with every, OMG I just can’t take how depressing this is, it’s turning my mood sour and making me truly miserable, thought I realize I cannot stop reading it! Honestly, had I researched the farm crisis of the 1980s, or ease and use of drugs by teens in the 80s, or the general development of abandoned children, I might have understood this book a bit more and not taken the plight of the characters so personal.
Every other chapter is told by a different person, a family member or supporting character, and each offers a bit of the story line, detective style, moving the plot along while drawing it further back so there is always the need to continue searching. The need of the reader, not the characters. I am continually impressed that although I would rather refuse this book and drop it back at the library (yay, free book use!) because it deals with a gruesome murder that is revisited the entire time, dissected, turned over, debated, I cannot stop turning the pages. The characters are refreshing, depressing, but you feel for them. And who hasn’t thought in sarcastic italics before? Out it comes in subtle hilarity from our damaged characters.
I went from page 50 to 219 over the course of a day; the amazing transformation of each character over a back-and-forth period of a few decades had me reading outside in the sun, through dinner, and turning the TV off. The fact that Flynn gives characters their own chapter really lets the humanity show through in bold, blazing emotions of each age during the blasé life events most authors forget or can’t seem to grasp.
I finished the novel having staying up late into the night and was thoroughly satisfied. It wasn’t a bubble gum ending but there was closure in many ways. At least, in the way that humans can find, justify, or believe closure. The plot line has scattered shreds of intertwined lives that continue to strengthen and unravel. The interesting thing is to see where the blame goes and how people find or lose strength.
I definitely recommend a trip to the local library for this book. It is not one I would read again, personally. But it was an easy read, easy to understand, no sucker punches. You learn as the main character learns. And I loved the twist and closure at the end. I am glad my friend recommended Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.