Title: The Grownup
Author: Gillian Flynn
Length: 1.5 hours
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Original Publication Date: 2014
Genre(s): Short Story, Horror, Thriller
An unnamed young woman makes a living the only way she knows how—by conning people. Since she was a child, she’s been in the business of fraud. When a developing case of carpal tunnel threatens her current job, she’s offered a new position at Spiritual Palms reading auras. Easy enough, right? Just another way to use her con artist skills. Or so she thinks, until Susan Burke, a rich, unhappy woman, shows up for her aura reading. Our narrator can tell right away that Susan is different from her usual clientele, but she isn’t sure how. When Susan claims there’s something wrong with her house, and there’s something wrong with her step-son Miles, our narrator soon finds herself in a situation she may not be able to con herself out of.
Can I just say, probably for the millionth time, how much I adore Gillian Flynn? She is definitely one of my auto-buy authors. I will never get sick of her stories. In fact, she is next on my list of authors to meet. Lately, I’ve been listening to a bunch of random audiobooks from authors I’ve never heard of. It’s nice to discover new voices, but it just doesn’t compare to revisiting a favorite writer. Gillian Flynn does it again: she manages to create a captivating, mysterious story with unlikable yet interesting characters with depth in just 60 short pages. Who else can do that??? Not many. Neil Gaiman comes to mind, but I’m not sure who else. Listening to The Grownup at work was the best hour I’ve had at work in a long time.
The story starts out pretty hilariously, a bit vulgar and brutally honest, per Flynn’s usual style. It felt…odd…listening to it at work. But I also wanted to laugh. It was all very endearing, despite the content, and immediately threw me into the story. From there, we get a little background about our unnamed narrator whom, per usual, I did not really like. But we all know Flynn is capable of creating pretty unlikable characters that you can’t help but root for (even just a little) and remain interested in.
Where’s that award I sometimes give out?
Oh, yeah. There it is.
Ahem. Anyway. We get a pretty good sense of what our narrator is like, and we expect bad things to happen to her after meeting Susan Burke. What starts out like every other haunted house story quickly turns into something else entirely, and all of a sudden it’s not just a typical ghost story anymore. I love that Flynn can deliver crazy twists in only a few pages. I truly didn’t see where this story was going. I was nervous at how it would end, but found myself enjoying that, too.
I don’t want to give too much away, as this is a short story. All I can say is, I want more! But of course, I don’t want more, because I did enjoy this little snippet of a story. I guess I just want more Gillian Flynn novels. Please write more. Please.
If you’re looking for a quick thrill, The Grownup is a great read (or listen). I was engaged from start to finish and it definitely delivered that spooky atmosphere I was looking for. And if you haven’t yet read Flynn’s other novels (where have you been???), there is no better time to start.
–“People are dumb. I’ll never get over how dumb people are.”
–“Empathetic silence is one of the most underused weapons in the world.”