Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

Book of the Month Discussion: Gone Girl May 31, 2013

Filed under: Book Club — Stephanie Rische @ 11:55 am
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Discussion #1: UnputdownableGG1

The blurb on the inside flap of the book says it’s “unputdownable.” When I first read that description, I thought it sounded a bit presumptuous (not to mention that it’s a made-up word), but once I got about halfway in, I recanted my initial reaction. Because that’s precisely the word for it—I consistently stayed up way too late reading this book.


I was a little surprised I liked this book since suspense isn’t my typical genre and I didn’t like any of the characters. But the plot and pacing were killer (sorry, bad pun), and the author uncovered layer after layer of the story in such a gripping way that I couldn’t help but come back for more, gory-accident style.


Did Gone Girl reel you in? Would you read other books by this author?


Discussion #2: She Said

The author is masterful in the way she reveals Amy’s personality. I started out feeling sorry for Amy, and then as the novel unfolded, I marveled as the depth of her insanity was revealed. It was fascinating to get a glimpse into Amy’s mind, and although she is so far over the edge, I couldn’t help but think how in many ways she’s merely an extreme representation of our own neuroses.


What do you think made Amy the way she was? Was she born a sociopath, or did circumstances make her that way (e.g., the pressure from her parents and the world to always be “Amazing Amy”)?


Discussion #3: He Said

As we find out more about Amy’s devious, well-calculated plans, it becomes clear that she is certifiably nuts. (Seriously? She saved her own vomit?) But as the novel comes to a close, we discover that Nick may be just as crazy in his way. He chooses to live in the same house with her and sleep in the same bed, all the while knowing one false move on his part will have disastrous consequences.


In a way, it seems that Nick doesn’t know who he is without Amy:

“Amy was toxic, yet I couldn’t imagine a world without her entirely. Who would I be with Amy just gone? There were no options that interested me anymore.” (p. 397)


Why do you think Nick stayed? And who was crazier: Amy or Nick?


Discussion #4: No Happy Ending

Not that I was expecting happily-ever-after for a book like this, but I have to admit that I was hoping for a little more justice…or at the very least, closure. I had a small moment of satisfaction when Nick wrote his book, but once again, Amy pulls a trump card when she announces she’s pregnant.


Nick has some moments where he’s about to crack and wants to kill her, but ultimately he decides that wouldn’t have been adequate. Here’s how he imagines justice for Amy:

“Not kill her but stop her. Put her in one of her boxes.” (p. 397)


What did you think of the ending? How long do you think Nick and Amy’s tenuous arrangement (that he has to be the perfect husband) is going to work? In your mind, what would have been justice for Amy?


Discussion #5: The Author

After finishing the book, I had to wonder: what kind of person could write a book like this and capture these disturbed characters so convincingly? I read a little bit about Gillian Flynn on her author site, and she looks like a perfectly lovely, well-adjusted adult. She does admit, however, that she had a bit of a devious streak as a child:


I was not a nice little girl. My favorite summertime hobby was stunning ants and feeding them to spiders. My preferred indoor diversion was a game called Mean Aunt Rosie, in which I pretended to be a witchy caregiver and my cousins tried to escape me.



I would give this book four stars. It was dark and disturbing and some of the language was hard to take, but it was a compelling read. I recommend it for those who are not faint of heart! (And maybe don’t read it right before bedtime.)


4 stars


How would you rate this book?


26 Responses to “Book of the Month Discussion: Gone Girl”

  1. This book sounds quite interesting! I am looking forward to picking it up at the store this summer and delving in to it! Thank you!

  2. Catherine Says:

    1. Like you, the book became unputdownable for me about halfway through. Also like you, this isn’t the genre I usally read. In fact, I don’t think I realized it was a thriller when I started it. But I’m glad I read it!
    2. I think the author did a fantastic job of making Amy a product of both nature and nurture, just like us. Thankfully most of us don’t have such extreme nature or nurture!
    3. This is a great question. Amy is so obviously crazy. Nick is a more subtle type of crazy. Is he just an enabler, or an addict himself?
    4. The ending made me feel sick to my stomach. Maybe having young kids colored the ending for me. Bleh.
    5. 4 stars. I would definitely consider reading another book by Flynn.

    • Cat, I miss being in a book club with you! I think you’re onto something with Nick…he seems to be more than an enabler, and I think Amy addict is an apt description! I know…it’s horrible to think of them bringing a baby into this insanity! Thanks for participating!

  3. Nate Are Says:

    Since this was my suggestion for the club….

    I really enjoyed the book! The layering, and the unravelling of the mystery is brilliantly done. I’m usually very good at guessing who-done-it’s early in a story, but I found myself formulating a new guess every page or two during the first half of teh book. And then, when she flips everything upside it’s head halfway through? I had no idea what was coming, and up until the very last few pages I had no idea how she was going to end it. I do most of my reading these days on my commute to and from work, but I can safely say I was itching to get to the train each day! And I’ve read Flynn’s two other novels already, but it’s safe to say I’ll read her next one whenever it comes out as well!

    She Said..
    Man, that Amy is a piece of work, isn’t she? Like an ogre, or an onion, the layers just kept peeling away. I love how we not only got a clearer picture of Amy as the story progressed, but a clearer picture of her parents and childhood as well.

    I think it’s fairly clear that her upbringing played a large part in her, well, insanity. A life of privilege (economically, at least), a complete lack of emotional support and development growing up, no accountability for her actions, an unclear understanding or development of herself as a person, all combined with a brilliant and mean streak a mile long. Kinda like Hanibal Lector from the Silence of the Lambs. One of Flynn’s earlier novels, Dark Places, shares a similar theme of disassociated parents raising unbalanced children.
    The only problem I had with Amy was that she was too smart. There is always a flaw in someone’s plans, nobody is that perfectly pre-meditated.

    He Said…
    Nick reminds me a lot of the main characters from Flynn’s two other novels (Dark Places and Sharp Objects). Definitely not well-balanced people, but ultimately they have at least a little redeeming quality and you can empathize with them enough to make them somewhat sympathetic.
    And, if you want to get real crazy, you can project it out further. Since the novel is actually about Nick, and not Amy, the two female characters (Go & Amy) are the representatives of Nick’s two sides; Go as the rational, grounded part of Nick and Amy as the devious, unbalanced side. Alternately, you could look at them from the perspective of Go being the Midwest/Missouri Nick, and Amy representing the New York Nick (I admit, this analysis is fueled by my recent reading and watching of the Great Gatsby, which has the same theme of Midwest VS New York).

    No Happy Ending…
    I loved the ending, how it left you feeling uneasy. A book like this, shouldn’t wrap up in a nice neat bow and let everyone walk away happily ever after. I had no idea how it was going to end up until the last few sentences, and even then I kept expecting another page or two to pop up. It helped it stand out among a bookshelf full of cookie-cutter novels.
    I think the only way “justice” could have been served to Amy was if the whole scheme was revealed and made public. Of course, for that to happen, Nick would have had to sacrifice himself in one way or another. Even then, you have to wonder if Amy would even get it, or if she would just revel in all of the attention she was getting. She would become Felon Amy.
    Either that, or Nick takes the baby, Go, and runs away to Mexico, never to return. I don’t know if Amy would get justice, but at least the baby would stand a chance at a normal-ish life.

    The Author…
    All three of Flynn’s novels share the same sort of theme, about people with awful situations growing up that have scarred them as adults. The other two follow a bit more of a linear, mystery-style progression, development, and ending (although she uses the same He Said/She Said type style in Sharp Objects). The main characters are just as imbalanced, but quite a bit more sympathetic. The main difference is that at the end of her first two novels, the main characters are moving away from the chaos of their lives towards a more normal, balanced state, while Nick & Amy keep circling each other in a perpetual free-fall.
    I get the feeling she’s read a lot of true crime books.
    I did enjoy the novel, and I loved that it wasn’t wrapped up in a nice little bow at the end. It was sort of like a cyclone, spiraling down and down the further you got along. The language was a bit more rough and vulgar than expected, but at least it matched the tone of the characters and the novel. As far as a mystery story goes, though, the first half of the novel is about as perfect as you can get. The mystery is wide open, and Flynn systematically hands out suspects and clues on every page that keep you guessing, changing your mind about whodunit, and speculating about the final ending. And then, when you finally get the reveal, it was nothing you’d guessed. And even though the reveal is halfway through the book, she keeps your attention for the rest of the book as it shifts gears from a mystery to a psychological thriller.

    • Wow, awesome thoughts, Professor Nate! I loved your analysis of the two women as the two sides of Nick and as Midwest vs. New York…I hadn’t thought of that…quite a fascinating angle. Your description of the book as a cyclone is perfect…so true! I agree with you about Amy’s brilliance–I kept wanting to see her miss a tiny thing that would unravel everything. Thanks for the recommendation!

  4. lljostes Says:

    You’re review has piqued my interest! I think I’ll recommend it to my book club for our next read. Thanks!

  5. Nancy Rische Says:

    Well I don’t know where to start. First I did not like the crass language and sexual connotations but I agree with Nate that they were fitting with the characters. It wasn’t until the second part that it became unstoppable to me except that the ending drug on for a long time. I loved the way that she worked the first part opposite each other and then revealed how she had “made it all up” to fit her plan. Amy was definitely a product of nature and nurture based on the story. I think the beauty of the story was the extremes of the characters. Her parents and even Nick’s mom and dad. I mean taking care of him like she did after he was grown and married! And the dad’s hatred of women. The love relationship of Amy’s parents. I think Nick showed his craziness all the way through. His bar, his twin and his teeny bopper girlfriend all showed the off the wall way he related to people. All the more showing why he “had” to stay with Amy. They are both crazy, him trying to please her and her trying to please herself. I don’t think there was any justice to be had in the book. None for Nick, the police department, Andie, Desi, and most of all Amy. I think the book was a character study about the very edge of society. I would consider reading another book of hers. I did like the way she presented things and her wording. I am glad I read it with a Kindle because I had to look up some words regularly. So all together I would cautiously give it 4 stars because it is definitely for everyone. Good book club suggestion.

    • nate Says:

      ” I think the book was a character study about the very edge of society.”

      Absolutely! I couldn’t agree with you more! Great comment.

    • You’re so right, Nancy…the characters were all extremes! I hadn’t thought of it those terms, but so true. And I agree–both Nick and Amy are crazy in their own way. I’m with you about the rating: a cautious four stars. 🙂 Thanks for reading and participating…I loved hearing your thoughts.

  6. Danika King Says:

    Hi, Stephanie! This was an intriguing book for sure. And “unputdownable” describes it exactly – I read it obsessively at home, in an airport (even though a really loud and annoying security alarm was going off at my gate for approx 20 minutes), over lunch… I love that feeling when you just can’t let go of a story until you know what happens, and I hadn’t read a book like that for a while.

    Your point about the book convicting us of our own neuroses is so true. Over the past few days, I’ve shifted uncomfortably at least a couple of times because I catch myself doing or thinking something Amy-like. I want someone to perceive me a certain way… oh no, that’s what Amy did! I say something that seems clever to me… oh no, Amy thought she was clever too! So while I didn’t expect this book to have any “takeaways,” it really has effectively shown me to myself in some areas.

    But the ending was really frustrating. First of all – and this may be vindictive – I didn’t want Amy to get away with something again! I already felt misled by her after the diary entries (and, yes, I did like Diary Amy!), and the fact that everything pretty much goes her way didn’t seem fair somehow. Also, the idea of a marriage where both husband and wife continually need to live up to some perfect standard held up by the other is sad and sounds exhausting. I suppose it’s a fitting arrangement for these two characters (though even for them, it’s hard to imagine it working out very well), but in real life it would be so awful to need to keep up an ideal version of yourself all the time, especially with your family.

    I’m so glad you chose this for your book club! It was definitely worth reading.

    • I totally agree about the ending! It went against all my longings for justice. I have a friend who wrote an alternate ending where Amy got justice by slipping into a permanent vegetative state…which I suppose is about the only way she could have gotten justice. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and insights! (But for the record, you are one of the most un-Amy-like people I know. 🙂

  7. nate Says:

    Hey, thank you to everyone who stepped outside of their comfort zone to read this book for our discussion! As this was my suggestion, I really appreciate it! I look forward to your suggestions and the next ones!

  8. Lesley Says:

    Thanks for the review, Stephanie! I read this book last fall and was so engrossed in the plot. But whoa, is it a dark one. I just started Where’d you go Bernadette which is really fun. The letter style writing form reminds me a bit of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peal Pie Society. Can’t put it down!

    I hopped over here from CT’s blog and wanted to say thank you for your post on letter writing. I book marked the article and sent it to a few friends who are big letter writers. Your words are encouraging me to sit down and write long letters again. I agree– it’s a slowly fading art.

  9. Nancy Rische Says:

    It was a great book club read. I would have gone crazy if I couldn’t discuss it after I read it.

  10. maggierowe Says:

    I have to admit I just can’t recommend this title to anyone. The author is clearly gifted at character and plot development as well as unpredictability, but the ugly language and totally unsympathetic characters turned me off. Flynn is such a good writer that she really doesn’t need to pepper her story so heavily with the f-bomb. Honestly, I felt sort of dirty myself after reading most of it – I finally skipped to the end and returned it to the library with relief. Would love to read a book of hers that doesn’t merit an R rating! 🙂

  11. […] First of all, congratulations to Nate for winning the free book for May’s book discussion! (You can check out our lively conversation about sociopaths and those who love them here.) […]

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