All The Ways HBO's Sharp Objects Is Different From The Book

Photo: Anne Marie Fox/HBO.
Sharp Objects is finally here to give you a summer TV thriller worth obsessing over. As Sunday night’s series premiere “Vanish” reveals, the miniseries revolves around the murder of two young girls in the fictional town of Wind Gap, Missouri. The town’s newly returned daughter Camille Preaker (executive producer Amy Adams), a crime journalist now living in St. Louis, is tasked with unraveling the grisly killings for her newspaper.
The draw of the series is figuring out who is behind Wind Gap’s reign of bloody terror and the many causes of Camille’s very evident trauma, which has led to her long history of self-harm.
For the folks who have read Sharp Objects, the 2006 Gillian Flynn novel the series is based on, it’s easy to assume the answers to these questions follow the book's blueprint step-by-step. After all, Flynn is an executive producer for the HBO thriller. But that isn’t exactly the case.
As with most adaptations, changes occur on the long road towards the small screen. Keep reading to find out what the Sharp Objects TV team altered to make your new favorite summer show a reality — and what that means for Camille Preaker, along with everyone around her.
If you or someone you know is considering self-harm, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
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The Munchausen Reveal

In The Book: Camille does a lot of the leg work in learning her family's darkest secret: her mom Adora Crellin (Patricia Clarkson) killed Camille's little sister, Marian (Lulu Wilson). Camille tracks down sources and sorts through endless documents to get to this revalation. Then, it's eventually revealed her detective love interest Richard (Chris Messina) suspected Adora is also the person killing little girls in the present-day and used his relationship with Camille to gain some clarity on his hunch.

Essentially, Camille and Richard lead two separate, but equally voracious, investigations into Adora.

In The Show: Richard gives Camille a folder of incriminating evidence about Marian's death, forcing the journalist down a hellish rabbit hole of discovery.
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Calhoun Day

In The Book: A nonexistent festival no one ever mentions.

In The Show: The day the Preaker-Crellins clearly look forward to all year. Calhoun Day, a creation for the HBO miniseries, is also a disturbing celebration of sexual assault and the Confederacy held at Preaker-Crellin manor.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Where Camille Lives Now

In The Book: When Camille returns to Wind Gap, no one can stop talking about her illustrious life in Chicago, where she is a journalist at the city’s third most popular newspaper.

In The Show: Camille does write for a Midwestern city newspaper, but she no longer resides in the major city of Chicago. Rather, she lives and works in St. Louis, Missouri.

This is likely meant to signify the fact that Camille couldn’t claw her way past the Mason Dixon line in Sharp Object's TV world. Yes, Camille no longer lives a stone’s throw from the Tennessee countryside, as the people of Wind Gap do. But, Camille isn’t exactly the big city success story she would be if she had escaped to the country's third-largest metropolis, either.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Curry And His Wife

In The Book: Camille’s boss Frank Curry and his wife Eileen are both described as working-to-middle class white people.

In The Show: Frank (Miguel Sandoval) and Eileen (Barbara Eve Harris) remain decidedly middle class, but they are now people of color (and appear in absolutely no Sharp Objects press photos). While Miguel Sandoval, who plays Frank, may easily present as white, he is a Latinx actor, who plays a Latinx man on ABC’s Station 19.

Taking this transformation a step further is Eileen, who is now an unmistakeable Black woman.

By making the Currys people of color, the Sharp Objects team creates a greater contrast between Camille’s promising — and far more progressive — life in the city and the claustrophobic, near-Confederate era whiteness of Wind Gap.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The Placement Of Camille's “Vanish” Scar

In The Book: It is written on the back of her neck. Great time is spent explaining the placement of the scar. Essentially, Camille, who has self-harmed for over a decade by etching words onto every inch of her skin, saved the spot for her final word.

So, before checking herself in rehab for self-harm, she created the “Vanish” scar.

In The Show: In the last scene of series premiere “Vanish,” we see the word written on the side of Camille’s forearm. None of above background is given for Camille’s thought process on her specific outlet of self-harm.

Instead, the moment is used to simply reveal how Camille self-harms in the first place.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The “Chapter” Organization

In The Book: Each chapter is numbered. It’s very straightforward.

In The Show: We can look at each episode of Sharp Objects as a chapter in Camille’s saga. And, each of those chapters isn’t merely numbered. Rather, they’re each named for one of Camille’s scars, which were created during her history of self-harm.

This explains the correlation between the previously mentioned “Vanish” scar and the title of the premiere.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The Importance Of Camille's Time In Rehab

In The Book: Camille's time in rehab for her history of self-harm is rarely mentioned, serving as only a small part of her backstory and the explanation for Curry's concern over his “cubby.” The same lack of narrative focus goes for Camille's roommate in rehab, Alice.

In The Show: Camille's time in rehab leaves a lasting impression. She often flashes back to her time there, and to her roommate, Alice (The Handmaid's Tale's Sydney Sweeney). Alice is everywhere for Camille. She consistently imagines the teen, as we can see by the consistent flashes of Alice in mirrors, corners, and random trains throughout Sharp Objects.

Although Alice is a constant looming specter in Camille’s life in the TV show, it is still unclear why she is so important to the journalist. In fact, Camille has yet to to even speak about Alice by name.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The Importance Of Music

In The Book: Like Camille's rehab visit, music is rarely spoken about throughout the novel. It's unclear if Camille even has a favorite song.

In The Show: Music is practically a supporting character in the miniseries. Angsty rock n’ roll follows Camille everywhere, and is even personified by her shattered iPod, which she takes everywhere. This changes leads to one of TV's best playlists of the year.

Throughout the season, we will also see how music plays a major role in the lives of the rest of the Preaker-Crellin family.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The Remaining Nash Kids

In The Book: A lot of time is spent describing how stunted — both emotionally and physically — the siblings of Anne Nash (Kaegan Baron), one of the murdered Wind Gap girls, appear.

In The Show: The three kids all seem to be normally developed. In fact, little interest is shown in the trio, save for their father’s blow up at one of his daughters in “Vanish.”
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Richard’s Whole Vibe

In The Book: Detective Richard Willis is clearly and obviously from Kansas City, reminding readers someone can be unmistakably Midwestern and not accepted by the highly insulated denizens of Wind Gap. For the people of the southern Missouri town, Richard couldn’t be more of a city slicker outsider.

In The Show: Richard Willis is played by Chris Messina, an actor who could not seem more like a diehard New Yorker. That is why Messina, who hails from Long Island, excelled as television’s greatest fictional Staten Islander, The Mindy Project’s Danny Castellano — and I say this as a Staten Islander.

Everyone in Sharp Objects needs to stop pretending “Kansas City” is an appropriate nickname for someone who looks and sounds exactly like Christopher Messina of Suffolk County.

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