Crowd Sourced Book Club: Gone Girl

In Crowd Sourced Book Club, our reviewers and readers choose one title and look at it from different perspectives. This month’s choice is Gone Girl.

Here’s what we know in the first chapter of Gone Girl: Nick’s wife, Amy, has disappeared. Nick has numbed himself from his personal problems — loss of career, move back to hometown, crumbling marriage — for so long that he has trouble breaking himself out of his personal melancholy to even register the shock. We know that he’s surprised by Amy’s disappearance, and that he’s conflicted about his feelings.


And then we find out that we don’t know that at all. Nick could by lying to us, we learn as we read the alternating chapters of a diary Amy kept from the beginning of their marriage. Then again, maybe he’s telling the truth. Or maybe he just thinks he is.


If fiction itself is a lie, then Gone Girl is its poster child. Throughout most of the book, we see a fascinating view of marriage (or any relationship). The same events are processed totally differently by husband and wife (and outsiders), even when the facts are agreed to be exactly the same. We see how the events of anyone’s life can seem like a lie even when they’re not, simply because the facts have been twisted or are seen from the wrong perspective. And we see how much havoc results when one character’s lying escalates in a constant refusal to confront personal issues.

Author Gillian Flynn handles all this remarkably well. The plot and character development of Gone Girl are outstanding. The first half of the book moves a bit more slowly, as we explore the big events and small slights of Nick and Amy’s marriage. But reach the midway point of this book, and the plot really flies — I know it’s a cliché, but you’ll definitely want to finish the second half in one sitting.

There may be two sides to every story, but sometimes one side is true and the other is deliberately distorted. The sad truth is, sometimes actual guilt and innocence have no relationship with who’s punished and who’s set free — and the reality of that fact is what makes Gone Girl such an interesting study of human nature … and what makes it so truly terrifying.

Carrie Rollwagen is co-owner and book buyer at Church Street Coffee & Books.

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