Minecraft Adventures B2G1 Free

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

    Recently Viewed clear list

    Original Essays | August 18, 2015

    Rinker Buck: IMG Just Passing Through: Embracing the Covered Wagon Mind-Set

    When people learn that I recently spent a long summer riding 2,000 miles across the Oregon Trail in a covered wagon pulled by mules, they invariably... Continue »
    1. $19.60 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

Qualifying orders ship free.
New Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
2 Beaverton Mystery- A to Z
1 Beaverton MYST- DISPLAY C
7 Burnside Mystery- A to Z
25 Local Warehouse Literature- A to Z
67 Local Warehouse Featured Titles- Staff Favorites
25 Remote Warehouse Popular Fiction- Contemporary Thrillers

Sharp Objects: A Novel


Sharp Objects: A Novel Cover



Reading Group Guide

A Reader’s Guide for Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn


For additional features, visit www.gillian-flynn.com.


In order to provide reading groups with the most informed and thought-provoking questions possible, it is necessary to reveal important aspects of the plot of this novel. If you have not finished reading Sharp Objects, we respectfully suggest that you wait before reviewing this guide.



A second-rate reporter for a fourth-rate newspaper, Camille Preaker returns to the tiny, troubled town of her childhood in search of her breakout story. The lead: A murderer is targeting young girls in gruesome fashion. It’s the kind of dark-hearted crime coverage that’s right up her alley—in the last place she’d choose to go.


Wind Gap, Missouri, is ill-equipped to solve murders, unaccustomed to the media coverage a public crime attracts. But its citizens are well acquainted with private cruelty, violence, and pain . . . as Camille rediscovers while she investigates the murders and her own dark past. Through the distorted lenses of drugs, deceit, and long-held resentment, she begins to piece together a horrifying story that hits closer to home than she ever expected.


Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. Soon after arriving in Wind Gap, Camille reflects, “Curry was wrong: Being an insider was more distracting than useful.” What exactly was Curry wrong about? What advantages did he think Camille’s “insider” status would bring with it? Was he, ultimately, wrong?


2. After ten years of abstinence, what is it that motivates Camille’s promiscuity during her return to Wind Gap? What do you make of her choice of partners—both relative outsiders in the town?


3. Does Camille deliberately sabotage her relationship with Richard? Could they have made a good couple?


4. Driving through Wind Gap, Camille describes the character of each distinct section of town, including its architecture: often poorly executed renovations and new construction. What do you make of her critiques? How are their homes symbolic of the people of Wind Gap?


5. Does Amma feel real affection for Camille? What are her motivations for getting closer to Camille?


6. What similarities do you see between Camille and Amma? What similarities do you think Camille sees?


7. Why is Amma so obsessed with her dollhouse? What significance does it hold for her?


8. Camille is addicted to “cutting,” a form of self-harm. Why do you think she specifically cuts words into her skin?


9. Camille is shocked when her suspicions about Marian’s illnesses are confirmed. Do you think she believes Adora deliberately killed Marian? Do you believe Marian’s death was intentional?


10. Is there goodness in Adora? Are there any moments when she seems to you more human, or more kind?


11. How would you describe Alan—a man who, as Camille says, never sweats—living among so much anxiety? Do you see this type of contrast—between cleanliness and filth, order and disorder—elsewhere in the book?


12. The story about cutting off her own hair before school-picture day is attributed both to Ann and to Camille. Why do you think the author makes this connection?


13. Discuss the role of substance abuse in the book. How does it define the characters, their behavior, and the town of Wind Gap? How does it contribute to the telling of the story, as the focus—and the substances themselves—intensify during the course of the book?


14. Discuss the theme of violence throughout the book, including animal slaughter, sexual assault, cutting, biting, and, of course, murder. What do you make of the way residents of Wind Gap respond to violence?


15. “A ring of perfect skin.” One on Camille’s back, another on her mother’s wrist. What significance does this have? How alike are Camille and her mother? In what crucial ways are they different?


16. Why does Camille allow herself to be poisoned by Adora?


17. In describing her crimes, Amma recalls happy, “wild” times with Ann and Natalie. Why isn’t Amma able to keep these girls as friends? Do their violent undercurrents doom these friendships to fail, or could they have been overcome?


18. As a reporter, Camille often has to distinguish between original quotes and quotes that are influenced by “true crime” dramas. What is the author saying about our society and our exposure to crime stories? Are the police working the case also guilty of this pop-culture shorthand?


19. At the end of the book, Camille isn’t certain of her answer to one key question: “Was I good at caring for Amma because of kindness? Or did I like caring for Amma because I have Adora’s sickness?” What is your opinion?


20. How important do you think the outward appearance of the people in Sharp Objects is to their personalities? Ugliness and beauty are themes throughout the book, but are they the key themes? Or do the characters rise above the visual?


What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 6 comments:

Sheila Deeth, April 4, 2014 (view all comments by Sheila Deeth)
Sharp objects cut, hurt and wound. Gillian Flynn’s novel, Sharp Objects, is no exception. It’s filled with dark, disturbing images, cruel memories, and layers of pain. It invites the reader into the mind of a young woman trying to rebuild her life, and in so doing, it slowly reveals how her life was broken. All this is done with stark, convincing prose, as newspaper reporter Camille Preaker returns to her home town, assigned to produce a few simple pieces about the family of a missing girl.

Of course, going home is never simple, especially when that home drove you to need psychiatric help. And revisiting the scene of her misery doesn’t offer the sort of healing Camille will need. Caught between the call of adult sanity and teen surrender, struggling against the lure of drugs, sex and alcohol, longing for the acceptance and love she’s missed, and desperate to help her sister escape the cycle of destruction, Camille walks a path filled of clever deduction, hopeless quests, and wounded memories. Meanwhile the author offers classically powerful descriptions of people and place, shadowed by what’s guessed, implied, kept hidden and eventually revealed.

Sharp Objects is a sharply observed tale of modern-day evil, told with a reporter’s strengths, a wounded woman’s weaknesses, and a heart for hope. It’s not an easy read. It’s graphic and its words cut and wound. But it’s beautifully told, and ultimately offers the promise that healing might be real.

Disclosure: I wanted to read something by Gillian Flynn and this was the book I chose to get for my birthday
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
techeditor, February 12, 2013 (view all comments by techeditor)
Thanks to readingitforward.com, SHARP OBJECTS is the second book by Gillian Flynn that I've read. On the basis of having now read both this book and GONE GIRL, it appears to me that Flynn likes deeply flawed characters with psychological problems who have dysfunctional families. In SHARP OBJECTS, it seems EVERY character has flaws and at least one phychological problem. But the main character, Camille Preaker, beats them all.

Preaker comes back to the small town where she grew up to report on a double murder there for the Chicago newspaper she works for. It seems everything she does involves alcohol. She drinks so much that it is unbelievable she can accomplish her investigative reporting duties. But investigate she does, always one step behind her policeman friend, Richard. And boy does she drink all the while!

But the drinking isn't as bad as the cutting, I guess.

While visiting her home town, Preaker stays with her mother, stepfather, and 13-year-old half sister. Here lies SHARP OBJECT's greatest mystery. It is Flynn's trick to make you make you feel undecided about these people throughout the book. Although it's easy to see they're dysfunctional, you won't know their true selves until the end. Please don't let any other book review tell you more about them and spoil that for you.

That's as close to story summary as you'll get from me. I won't spoil it for you, as so many book reviews on the Internet have done to me.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)
Gracie, September 4, 2012 (view all comments by Gracie)
Gillian Flynn has an uncanny aptitude for writing about dark, disturbing things happening underneath a facade of normalcy. In Sharp Objects, she brings the small town of Wind Gap, Missouri, to life, and at first glance it seems an ordinary, quiet place where everybody knows everybody. But it has seen two children murdered, and the police are at a loss. No one can believe it was someone in the community who did it.

Camille Preaker grew up in Wind Gap and left as soon as she was able. She isn't just haunted by her past there, she's damaged, scarred, and lives with it every day. She's carved words into her skin since she was thirteen, and the scars throb with meaning. Wind Gap is where she started cutting, it's where her sister Marion died, it's where her cold mother, Adora; stepfather, Alan; and half-sister, Amma, live in a mansion on the hill. The last thing Camille would ever want to do is go back. But that's exactly what her boss tells her to do. She's a journalist with an inside track on the town, so who better to cover the story of the two dead girls?

It's not exactly a cheeful homecoming. The police aren't forthcoming and the case seems to be going nowhere. Camille isn't getting far, and spending time with her family doesn't go well. Adora's ideas of how things should be don't conform well with reality. She wants to dote on her children, the way she did sickly Marion, and for that to happen, those children need to be compliant and sick. Alan doesn't really have ideas and is little more than a ghostly presence in the house backing up Adora. Amma's ideas of how things should be mean that at thirteen she knows how to manipulate people; she plays with her dollhouse at home and rules over her contemporaries, drinks, takes drugs, and has sex when she's out with her friends.

Camille has difficulty navigating through both the case and her family. Vodka, burbon, and sleeping with the detective called in on the case can only do so much. And as the case and Camille's family come together, things only get worse. Secrets, some long-buried, some fresh, but all calculated and violent, come out with widespread consequences.

The book then haunts you when it's over. The characters linger. They seem so real, so incredibly screwed up, and their lives echo for a bit until you can pull yourself out of that place and back into the world.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 6 comments

Product Details

A Novel
Flynn, Gillian
Gillian Flynn
Broadway Books
Women journalists
Domestic fiction
Suspense fiction
Literature-A to Z
Mystery & Detective - General
Edition Number:
Reissue ed.
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
July 2007
Grade Level:
12 x 9 x 5.5 in 7.7 lb
Age Level:
10<br><br> Missing since 5/12<br><br> Last seen

Other books you might like

  1. The Emperor's Children
    Used Hardcover $2.95
  2. The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel
    Used Hardcover $3.50
  3. The Keep: A Novel
    Used Trade Paper $6.95
  4. The Tattooed Girl Used Trade Paper $4.50
  5. The Ruins
    Used Mass Market $2.50
  6. Winter's Bone
    Used Trade Paper $8.00

Related Subjects

Featured Titles » Bestsellers
Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Featured Titles » Staff Favorites
Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » Endcap
Fiction and Poetry » Mystery » Featured Titles
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Contemporary Thrillers

Sharp Objects: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$14.00 In Stock
Product details 1072 pages Broadway Books - English 9780307341556 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Gillian Flynn's debut novel is a literary thriller that will shock and repulse you, even as it draws you inexorably into its tangled, sadistic web of deceit, secrets, and horrific revelations. With her vivid characters and sharp-edged dialogue, Flynn is a writer to watch!

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Flynn's debut novel focuses on an emotionally fragile young woman whose sanity is being severely tested by family dysfunction, smalltown incivility and murder. It is a mesmerizing psychological thriller that is also quite disturbing and, thanks to reader Lee's chillingly effective rendition, at times almost unbearably so. Camille Preaker, a novice reporter with a history of self-mutilation, is sent to her hometown in Missouri to cover the murder of one teenage girl and the disappearance of another. There, she must face a variety of monsters from the past and the present, including her aloof and patronizing mother, her obnoxiously precocious 13-year-old stepsister who dabbles in drugs, sex and humiliation, and an unknown serial killer whose mutilated victims bring back haunting memories. Lee's interpretation of mom enhances the character's detachment and airy state of denial to an infuriating degree. And her abrupt change of pace when Camille suddenly begins chanting the words carved on her body is hair-raising. But the voice Lee gives to the stepsister — tinged with a sarcastic, cynical and downright evil girly singsong — makes one's blood run cold. Simultaneous release with the Shaye Areheart hardcover (Reviews, Aug. 21). (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Wallowing in the misery, dysfunction, backstabbing, casual sexual exploitation, and rampant pettiness of small-town life is the strongest part of the narrative. I wonder if Sharp Objects might have worked better as a pitch-black comedy, or as a thriller without the mystery trappings. Flynn seems to have invested so much energy in making her main character live and breathe, neuroses fully ablaze, that she neglected to craft a formidable mystery." (read the entire Powells.com review)
"Review" by , "More in the tradition of Joyce Carol Oates than Agatha Christie, this one will leave readers profoundly disturbed. But from the first line...you know you're in the hands of a talented and accomplished writer."
"Review" by , "Darkly original....Flynn expertly ratchets up the suspense....A disturbing yet riveting tale."
"Review" by , "A first novel that reads like the accomplished work of a long-time pro, the book draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction....All in all, a terrific debut."
"Review" by , "A tense, irresistable thriller....Flynn's first-person narration is pitch-perfect, but even more impressive is the way she orchestrates the slim novel's onrushing tension toward a heart-stopping climax."
"Review" by , "To loathe one's home town is a venerable literary tradition, but I can't think of another novel that has painted a more scathing, over-the-top portrait of small-town America....Flynn generates suspense over who killed the two little girls."
"Review" by , "Flynn delivers a great whodunit, replete with hinting details, telling dialogue, dissembling clues....Piercingly effective and genuinely terrifying."
"Review" by , "This impressive debut novel is fueled by stylish writing and compelling portraits of desperate housewives, southern style....A stylish turn on dark crimes and even darker psyches."
"Review" by , "To say this is a terrific debut novel is really too mild....Sharp Objects isn't one of those scare-and-retreat books; its effect is cumulative. I found myself dreading the last thirty pages or so but was helpless to stop turning them. Then, after the lights were out, the story just stayed there in my head, coiled and hissing, like a snake in a cave. An admirably nasty piece of work, elevated by sharp writing and sharper insights."
"Review" by , "[F]irst-time novelist Flynn expertly divulges [a] tale reminiscent of the works of Shirley Jackson....Highly recommended."
"Synopsis" by , After eight years, the murders of two preteen girls — timed nearly a year apart — bring reporter Camille Preaker reluctantly back to her hometown. As she works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, Camille finds herself forced to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past.
  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.