The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

The GrownUp
By Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Crown
ISBN13: 9780804188975
Pages: 64
Genre: Short Story/Fiction


A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.


*Disclaimer – this book contains some sexual content so this review may not be for everyone.

The GrownUp was gifted to me last night actually, by a dear friend. Small in stature and unexpectedly in my hands, I decided to dive into this one blindly. This is my second experience with Gillian Flynn’s work. My first of course being Gone Girl. I think most of us have read it. The latter was a fun read, but it didn’t resonate with me. While enjoyable, in the end the predictability took too much away. But I also knew that the author’s writing agreed with me to an extent. Such was the case with The GrownUps.

This is a short title that I actually struggle to describe. I was thrown off by the sexual content in the beginning. But it is not the focus of the story and I did not find it abrasive.

We follow the narrator and main, unnamed female lead as she is nearing the end of her career in hand jobs (yes you read that correctly) and transitioning into a position of aura reading for her current employer Viveca with Spiritual Palms, where they happen to offer a variety of services. We will just say they tailor to the needs of many.

The narrator does actually happen to have a talent when it comes to reading people. So when Susan Burke walks into Spiritual Palms, she immediately picks up on her distress. It turns out the Susan is concerned her stepson is behaving dangerously odd and that their Victorian home may be at fault. For a fee, our narrator agrees to pay several visits to the home and meet Miles, the stepson in question. She begins an attempt to cleanse the home. Here is where our narrator discovers that Susan and Miles are definitely in distress and possible danger as a series of chilling events begin to unwind.

The GrownUp was absolutely nothing I could have expected. Even if I had read this blurb beforehand, I would still have been unprepared. Our narrator is very raw, at times to the point of being vulgar. But in reality, maybe she is not so vulgar as she accepting of the life she has been raised into.  I guess this depends on your definition of “vulgar” and limitations. I use the word loosely here, as I am not easily disturbed.

Having grown up with a mother who taught her to survive by begging, she spent a few days each week on the streets summing up individuals to panhandle. She was taught to play the role, and it was here that she learned to really hone the skill of reading others. She quickly developed the ability to decipher strangers and what they did and didn’t want. It was a means of survival.

We are quickly given a thorough background that brings us to a more solid understanding of just how she has landed herself in her current choice of career. She seems comfortable with her decisions. While I did not connect with her, I appreciated her almost disturbingly honest approach to each situation. She was confident and a straight shooter. For instance she openly discusses her occupation in an unexpectedly frank manner that was not without some refreshing humor:

“I would rather be a librarian, but I worry about job security. Books may be temporary; dicks are forever.”
― Gillian Flynn, The Grownup

And why she now reads auras..

“I quit because when you give 23,546 hand jobs over a three-year period, carpal tunnel syndrome is a very real thing.”
― Gillian Flynn, The Grownup

I was completely caught off guard and initially baffled. What am I reading? Where is this going? But at only 60 pages, it is rather ridiculous not to see this through. Plus I was curious 😉

So she grew on me during our small time together. No, I have no great love of this character/narrator, but she worked. We will settle for the fact that I liked her to a certain extent. If there is anything I can appreciate, it is honesty. But you can imagine my confusion and joy as the story slowly shifted gears and I found myself in the middle of what was developing into a haunted house tale. Or was it?

I did not care for Susan or Miles. I just honestly did not like them as people in general. They both had a lot of baggage and felt weak. The first contact with Susan and Miles was somewhat bland. But things were beginning to happen, and they were a key part of the equation.

I was trying to wrap my brain around everything. And suddenly it was there. That magical bit of talent I have heard many readers exclaim is one of the author’s greatest. A twist! A connection that I felt like a complete idiot for not having made.

The writing was inviting and drew me further with each page. The world building was incredibly vivid for such a brief moment. The atmosphere was enticing yet foreboding at times. I was absorbed into the descriptions of this mysterious Victorian home and our narrator’s time there.

“And yet, I felt it too: the house. Not necessarily malevolent, but…mindful. I could feel it studying me, does that make sense? It crowded me. One day, I was wiping down the floorboards, and suffered a sudden, slicing pain in my middle finger – as if I’d been bitten – and when I pulled it away, I was bleeding. I wrapped my finger tightly in one of my spare rags and watched the blood seep through. And I felt like something in the house was pleased.”
― Gillian Flynn, The Grownup

This short story ramped up the pace in a rather fast time period. It was nearly over before I realized it had started. Did it blow me away? No. I found myself questioning the ending and unsure that I was satisfied. But that is also the very reason that I would consider this to be a clever piece of work. Left to my own devices, I am know this one will linger for several days.  It is still turning within. Yet it was simply lacking just the little extra that could have really taken this to the next level. The ending was rush, sadly. All in all, it was an entertaining experience and I enjoyed my time. I believe I clocked in at around 30 minutes with this one.

An interesting additional piece of information to note regarding The Grownup is that this title originally appeared in the short story collection Rogues in 2014 under the title of What Do You Do? Rogues features a collection of shorts by some amazing authors that was compiled and edited by none other than George R. R. Martin and award-winning editor Gardner Dozois. You can find an excerpt and additional information on here

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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64 thoughts on “The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

  1. I’m a huge fan of Gillian Flynn and loved all three books I’ve read of her. I read Gone Girl as one of the first I think, before any hype, when someone else said to me to just read it. I wasn’t accustomed to such big twists then so liked it very much. I also really like the dark atmosphere in her books and I think I can see it here too. The only reason I haven’t read this is because it’s so short and I hate spending money on something that takes 30 minutes to read. If it were free though I’d download it immediately. Great review and loving the quotes!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never read a Gillian Flynn book so this might be an easy way to start. I actually quite enjoy abrupt characters, I find them much more interesting to read about a lot of the time. I love plot twist type books and I don’t read enough short stories so I’ll have to pick this one up and give it a go. Thank you for the great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kirsty. It is a very short read. So if you decide to purchase it, you may want to keep that in mind. I have seen some places charging quite a bit. I hope you can find it a library maybe or for a reasonable price. Although, I do love the cover 😉


  3. I’ve wanted to read this one for a while now! I own it, just haven’t gotten around to it yet. And I should, since it’s so short. Nice review, Danielle!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Will do! Hoping to get over this flu soon. My head feels like it’s exploding, making it hard to read right now. I am miserable. Being sick sucks.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. It’s alright. Thank you! Hopefully I’ll be over it by this weekend. Seems as if I’ve had it forever now. Sorry about your ears! I’m sending healing vibes your way too!!! ❤

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I think Gone Girl and Sharp Objects are two of my favourites of Flynn’s. The Grown Up, I think I will have to read again.

    I think I had a similar experience in reading it. It was the end where it really ramped up and it left me wondering what the hell was going on. I found the ending slightly ambiguous, in the sense that I didn’t know what to believe about the characters. I attribute that to great writing, as well, especially given it unsettles the theme of being able to “read people”.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sarah, the ending was almost too open for me. I think she does a great job of leaving you to your own devices, but this one almost felt like there were too many directions it could have went. But again, maybe that is what made it fun? I am on the fence haha. I need to read Sharp Objects.

      Thank you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done on such a great review for a short book! I wouldn’t have managed at all, I think. 🙂 Enjoyed this, sounds interesting, considering I never felt the need to read anything by Flynn… the quotes are fantastic, though, vulgar as I am as well… the carpal tunnel one reminded me how I asked my hubby one day:
    “What is that thing again when your wrist gets sore?”
    He goes” Wanker’s cramp” … I was actually looking for the words- carpal tunnel. Google helped me in the end 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  6. With the warning of sexual content, the “hand job” took a weird sense and I had to reread the sentence, hahaha. This sounds like a problematic reading: great writing but characters who could have been more, a big twist but a story lacking something. I haven’t read anything from Flynn, I’ve only read Gone Girl and I liked it but weren’t blown away. I guess I’ll have to experience one of her books to see 🙂 Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a very fair statement considering that I was left unsure with just how much I enjoyed the story. Enough to say it was worth the time. It was gifted to me. It is so short, i cannot actually recommend paying for it (at least not too much). It ended a bi abruptly. Maybe it would be worth checking out at the library or picking up the book Rogues that it was originally featured in 🙂


    1. I definitely will not be excluding her books going forward. This one may not have hit the full mark, but I enjoy her writing style and she is clever with the twist at times. I think I will at least attempt Sharp Objects. Everyone keeps telling me to haha.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sounds fascinating! I too liked but didn’t love Gone Girl, but Gillian Flynn is really growing on me – I love how dark and unapologetically unlikeable her female characters are, it’s really different and I think she pulls it off.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, I didn’t expect that story. I knew this was something sort of different of what we’re used to from Flynn, but… not different like this! It does sound interesting though. I also saw how small the book was. Didn’t know it would contain material like that though hahah. Great review! 🙂

    – Lashaan

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Can I just say how impressed I am that you read this book (even though it was short) and had an awesome review posted the next day? That is insane! I am sitting over her 15 book reviews deep lol You must teach me your ways!

    I am probably one of the only people who haven’t read a Gillian Flynn book… that’s right, I have NOT read Gone Girl ((insert gasps here)) I did watch the movie and now have a complex from “that scene.” lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amanda ❤ I knee deep too. I wouldn't have much to teach I am afraid 😉 This was only my second title by her. Gone Girl being the other. I was not actually sold with Gone Girl. I think I gave it 4 stars because it was a fun read, but now that I have read a bit more of her work, I may continue. I chose not to watch the movie. Isn't that bad?!

      Liked by 1 person

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