Gone Girl was the “it” book of 2012, which for a while kept me from reading it. The book “everyone’s reading” usually fails to live up to expectations, but not this one. It’s on all those “best of” lists for a reason.
Gone Girl opens up in small town Missouri on Amy and Nick’s five year anniversary. Things are clearly rocky, as told from Nick’s perspective. He describes how much his sophisticated big-city wife hates their town, their house, his family – in short, everything about their current life together. Then he gets a call from his neighbor while he’s at work. The door is wide open and the cat’s outside. When Nick gets to the house, there’s furniture overturned in the living room and Amy is gone.
This could be a simple thriller, but it’s more than a whodunit. This is a portrait of a marriage that alternates between Nick and Amy’s perspectives. And as you’ve no doubt heard by now, what you see is chilling. Let me say that I was very grateful for my 11-year happy, stable marriage as I read this book. Because if I was newly married, this book might scare me away from marriage.
To say this gives away nothing of the plot – Amy and Nick’s problems are clear from the very beginning, but that only leaves the reader wondering whether Amy’s run away, Nick’s offed his wife, or something equally sinister has happened.
The strength of this book is its sharp writing and its vivid descriptions of Amy and Nick’s relationship. For example, Nick describes the treasure hunt Amy prepares for each anniversary as a form of marriage-torture rather than a loving tradition. And it’s that description that sets the tone for this book:
By the time we got to the end of the day, to exchanging our actual presents – the traditional paper presents for the first year of marriage – Amy was not speaking to me.
“I love you Amy. You know I love you,” I said, tailing her in and out of the family packs of dazed tourists parked in the middle of the sidewalk, oblivious and openmouthed. … She stopped finally, gave me a face unmoved as I explained myself, one mental finger tamping down my exasperation: “Amy, I don’t get why I need to prove my love to you by remembering the exact same things you do, the exact same way you do. It doesn’t mean I don’t love our life together.”
A nearby clown blew up a balloon animal, a man bought a rose, a child licked an ice cream cone, and a genuine tradition was born, one I’d never forget: Amy always going overboard, me never, ever worthy of the effort. Happy anniversary, asshole.
Nick and Amy start out young, enthusiastic and in love. Then they have to face problems like losing their jobs and dealing with family health problems. These are situations plenty of couples have to deal with, which is what makes this book striking. Nick and Amy may be unique characters but they face everyday problems.
Saying any more about this book won’t be helpful. I recommend it for anyone who’s looking for a page turner, because you will have a hard time putting it down. If you liked last year’s Before I Go To Sleep, this one’s even better. However – it may make you take a second look at the person sleeping beside you.