REVIEW: ‘Sharp Objects’ by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (2006)

Since graduating college just a few short months ago, I have fully launched myself into reading any book I can get my hands on.

Most recently, that is Gillian Flynn’s 2006 debut novel “Sharp Objects.” The novel highlights the story of Camille Preaker, a Chicago reporter off a short stay in a psychological hospital, as she travels back to her hometown of Wind Gap to cover the murders of two young girls. While there trying to get the “big break” that would put her newspaper (the fourth largest in Chicago) on the map, she is forced to deal with her past, her hypochondriac mother Adora and get to know her 13-year-old half-sister Amma.

“Sharp Objects” mixes the best of mystery, psychology and journalism (oh yes, journalism). It reads like a very long news article, but in the best way possible. The sentences are crisp and clean with no fluff. At just 252 pages, the novel takes you through as multiple people close in on the ultimate question: “Who dunnit?”

But the success of this book doesn’t lie in figuring out who committed the crime (although the realization just pages from the end of the book is perfect), but with the familial connections between the Preaker family and the entire community of Wind Gap.

The entire town is connected due to it’s size. Old women gather and gossip about back when they were popular. 13-year-old Amma runs the town with three other girls, causing trouble and making sure that she gets everything that she wants.

Camille is an outsider to this world of Wind Gap, leaving her life behind many years before. A life with an overly attentive mother, a sister Marian who died from sickness and Camille’s own addiction of sorts to sex and harming herself.

All of these things Camille thought she left behind as she closes in on what really happened when she was a child, who could possibly kill two little girls in this small town and if those two things are connected.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Happy Mother’s Day to the three best women I know

Although Mother’s Day is nearly at an end, I wanted to take a moment and say a few things.

First of all, I have the best mother and mother-like figures in my life. Whether I am sad, happy or just plain ornery, they are always there for me. When I graduated from both high school and college, they have been there for me and all the time before and after.

To my mom, I love you. Thank you for putting up with me on the phone when I don’t say anything, even though I am the one calling you.

To Robin, thank you for treating me like your daughter for the last eight (almost nine years).

To my grandma, thank you for being a wonderful mother to your kids, but more importantly the best grandmother I could ever ask for. You are always there for me.

Now, to get to the main point of this post.

All of you women are selfless. You give daily to make sure that I can have the best life possible. I don’t know if I could do that.

I am a college graduate who is employed in my desired career. I am just over a year away from marrying someone I have spent much of my life with. I am happy.

None of this would be possible without you.

I love you and I just hope that if I ever become a mother I can be half as amazing as you three.

‘Second Winter’ hits Western Michigan University’s campus (photo gallery)

A blast of snow hit Western Michigan University’s campus Tuesday night (March 11), following two days of nearly 50 degree weather. Classes were still scheduled for Wednesday and students made their way to classes surrounded by mountains of snow and snow-covered trees.
Take a look at some pictures from today’s winter wonderland on campus.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Searching for a job post-graduation is both scary and enriching

8 weeks. 56 days. 1,344 hours.

No matter how you divide the time, those numbers represent how long I have until I walk across the Miller Auditorium stage to receive my degree from Western Michigan University.

To say I am nervous would be an understatement. I’m confident I can make it across the stage without tripping (well, maybe) but what scares me is after I cross that stage. Once I cross that stage I will no longer be editor-in-chief of the Western Herald or even a student.

With eight weeks until I graduate, I have fully immersed myself in the job search. I am constantly frequenting job posting websites in the search of the perfect job.

So yes, I am scared, but more than that I am excited. With every job description I read, I see the things I need to improve on, the positions I am qualified for and I experience the rush of sending off a package with my resume, cover letter and clips.

Searching for a job takes an enormous amount of self-motivation. I don’t have someone to tell me I need to do this or that. With the experience I have had so far through job searching, I have learned several things about myself.

I am motivated. I am optimistic. I am nervous. I am prepared. I am realistic.

I am ready for whatever the future has in store for me.

Searching for a job is scary, but it is enriching.

Look Back: Michigan Press Association annual conference

While this topic is wholly late, the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 Michigan Press Association annual conference is all that is on my mind today. The experience is one I will never forget and one that I wish I had participated in before.

On Jan. 31 at the early hour of 5:30 a.m., I forced myself out of bed in order to make it to the first seminar of the MPA conference at 9 a.m. The first session, as all of the rest did, lit the fire in my heart to work on improving the Western Herald even more. My head was racing with ideas on audience engagement, paper layout and even simply headline writing. I learned so much more than I ever expected to.

As the day went on, I had the opportunity to visit the Grand Rapids Brewing Company and the MLive/Grand Rapids newspaper hub. I have never seen so many dedicated and enthusiastic student journalists in one room. It was an enriching experience. Not to mention the number of professional journalists I was able to speak with.

On Feb. 1, my fiance drove to Grand Rapids to watch me receive an award and check that named me a Michigan Press Association Foundation Milliman Scholar. I will never forget that moment. While I am sure graduation in April will be a culmination of all of my accomplishments, becoming a Milliman scholar ranks right up there.

I may only have a couple of months left before I graduate from Western Michigan University, the MPA conference gave me an even more pointed sense of direction in what I wish to accomplish during my life.

Did I do everything I wanted to do?

I am sitting in my bed with “Santa Clause 3″ playing and thoroughly avoiding my need to study for my Spanish final exam tomorrow. But, while the difference between ser and estar is thoroughly lodged into the back of my brain, I have been wandering to the fact that in five months I will be crossing the stage with my Bachelors degree (hinging of course on the fact that I need to do well on this Spanish exam).

The question that has been pestering me as I look to my graduation day is: Did I do everything that I wanted to do in college?

I’ve never been to a stereotypical “college party.” I have never joined ten different RSO’s. I never made a million friends, for the most part my Facebook friends list didn’t increase even 100 people.

But.

I interned at the Kalamazoo Gazette, a newspaper I grew up reading. I banded with people at WMU who care about student media and successfully worked to save the Western Herald, WIDR and Young Broadcasters of Tomorrow. I got engaged to my boyfriend of eight years. I made an amazing friend out of an outstanding coworker. I rose from a girl too shy to say hi to someone, to a person that leads the student newspaper with no fear (well maybe a little), a die hard passion and a desire to improve every day.

I have learned so many skills that I will use my entire life, both personally and professionally. There is nothing better than that.

So, I may not have made thousands of friends, but the people I have befriended have made all of the difference in my world. I am blessed to have the opportunities, friends, family and pure passion that I have.

I am scared to walk through this last semester, but I am so ready to open up a whole new set of adventures.

First Quarter: New paper design, more letters to the editor

Time has flown. I am now a quarter of the way through my job as editor-in-chief of the Western Herald. There are so many things that I am proud of and so many things I want to continue to improve throughout the rest of the year.

To start, with the help of the Herald’s graphic designer, we changed the front page design of the print edition. It used to be a designed cover with tiny nods to stories inside, now it looks like this:

print edition new

It’s always a work in progress but I like the new look because it looks like a newspaper and lets readers know what is actually in the paper.

In addition to the changes to the print edition, there have been an increased number of letters to the editor coming in. I love the reader and WMU student interaction. Having the news is one thing, but having reader input brings the purpose of the Western Herald full circle.

To read some of the letters, visit this link: http://www.westernherald.com/category/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/.

Looking to the rest of the year, my goals are longer than Santa’s naughty or nice list. Daily I strive to find better stories, more engaging topics and better ways to lead. But for the long-term I work to set a even firmer foundation for editors and reporters after me. Having ground to stand on is the simplest way to be able to build the floors. Editors before me got me to some pretty high floor levels, but I hope to add a few more floors before the end of the year.