My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent August 29th 2017
There has been a huge amount of Twitter hyope for this novel, and all I can say is believe every word. This novel is stunning and extraordinary.
Meet Turtle. Turtle, is 15 and lives with her father in the run down family home in Mendocino California. Turtle appears to have no mother in her life, cares little for make up and clothes, the province of most 15 year old girls, can skin a rabbit, strip and clean an array of guns and can shoot as well as any man.
Yet Turtle is troubled, dealing with issues any child should never have to deal with. Her main issue is a father who is convinced the world will end, loves Turtle with a suffocating fierceness, and regularly abuses Turtle both sexually, physically and mentally.
Turtle sees no means of escape until the death of her grandfather and sudden departure of her father that force her to reassess her life. She befriends Jacob and all of a sudden Turtle sees glimpses of a proper family life and of people who care about her in the right way. All too soon her happiness is shattered when her father returns, this time with a young girl and slowly Turtle’s eyes are opened to just how wrong her father is.
This is a dark, unsettling read and definitely not for the fainthearted. It does contain issues that some may find disturbing but if you can live with it then please read this book.
Turtle is one of the best characters I have read all year. She is feisty, and resourceful, naive in the ways of the modern world yet underneath she yearns to have friends and ultimately to live a normal live. She both loves and hates her father, but doesn’t know what a normal father, daughter relationship is. Her tenacity and sheer courage shine through in the latter stages of the book and you find yourself rooting for this young girl, reading faster to discover how her story will end.
Tallent’s settings are wonderfully done and perfectly match the varied moods within the book and his knowledge of guns and nature is very well researched.
Tallent’s writing is full of drama and tension that leaps from the pages and certainly set the heart racing at times. The sexual abuse that Turtle endures is incredibly well done and handled with care. At no time did it feel out of place or written purely to shock the reader, it definitely had a place within the novel. I felt its purpose was to show the love hate relationship between Turtle and her father as though it was the only way that he could show Turtle how much he loved her, how much that she was his and his alone.
This is a novel that will grab hold of you, pull you in and not let you go until it you have experienced every conceivable emotion from utter despair to hope and happiness. Turtle will stay with you long after you have read the last page and I can honestly say this was a truly stunning novel.
Thank you to Fourth Estate Books for providing a proof copy yo read and review.
About the author.
Gabriel Tallent grew up in Mendocino, California. He attended Mendocino Community College before receiving his BA from Willamette University.
Gabriel jobs have included working as a crew leader for Northwest Youth Corps, dining room staff at Alta Lodge and a checker at Target.
His stories have been published in Narrative and the St Petersburg Review. My Absolute Darling is his debut novel.
Gabriel currently lives in Salt Lake City.