My Absolute Darling: Book summary and reviews of My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

My Absolute Darling

by Gabriel Tallent

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent X
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2017
    432 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A brilliant and immersive, all-consuming read about one fourteen-year-old girl's heart-stopping fight for her own soul.

Turtle Alveston is a survivor. At fourteen, she roams the woods along the northern California coast. The creeks, tide pools, and rocky islands are her haunts and her hiding grounds, and she is known to wander for miles. But while her physical world is expansive, her personal one is small and treacherous: Turtle has grown up isolated since the death of her mother, in the thrall of her tortured and charismatic father, Martin. Her social existence is confined to the middle school (where she fends off the interest of anyone, student or teacher, who might penetrate her shell) and to her life with her father.

Then Turtle meets Jacob, a high-school boy who tells jokes, lives in a big clean house, and looks at Turtle as if she is the sunrise. And for the first time, the larger world begins to come into focus: her life with Martin is neither safe nor sustainable. Motivated by her first experience with real friendship and a teenage crush, Turtle starts to imagine escape, using the very survival skills her father devoted himself to teaching her. The reader tracks Turtle's escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, and watches, heart in throat, as she struggles to become her own hero - and in the process, becomes ours as well.

Shot through with striking language in a fierce natural setting, My Absolute Darling is an urgently told, profoundly moving read that marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. [Tallent has] written a fearless adventure tale that's as savvy about internal emotional storms as it is about wrangling with family and nature… A powerful, well-turned story about abuse, its consequences, and what it takes to survive it." - Kirkus

"Starred Review. Few coming-of-age stories deliver the sheer lyrical power of Tallent's debut … Lucidly written, both heartbreaking and heartfelt, this book is ultimately affirmative without the slightest sentimentality, and it's remarkable." – Library Journal

"Starred Review. Turtle is an extraordinary character whose thoughts and actions enliven the pages of Tallent's remarkable first novel - remarkable not only for its characterization but also for its minute examination of the natural world that Turtle inhabits. So vivid is the gorgeously realized setting that it becomes itself a major character in a novel that lingers in the mind long after the final page." - Booklist

"Emotionally fraught… Turtle's story is harrowingly visceral." - Publishers Weekly

"The word 'masterpiece' has been cheapened by too many blurbs, but My Absolute Darling absolutely is one." - Stephen King

"I read My Absolute Darling in one sitting, well past midnight, despite an early-morning flight: the book is that impossible to put down ... a heartrending debut that will shock, then shake, then inspire you." - Celeste Ng, New York Times-bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You

"It is unreal how vivid and compelling this book is. Turtle Alveston is one of the most vibrant characters I've come across in a long time, and every scene in this astonishing novel packs so much tension, so much insight, such beautiful prose and such masterful handling of detail, I simply could not stop reading." - Phil Klay, National Book Award-winning author of Redeployment

"Tallent's breathtaking debut is a harrowing and at times psychologically difficult journey on the scale of A Little Life or The Goldfinch, but it's worth it. The unflagging tenacity of this young heroine as she navigates her path to adulthood against seemingly insurmountable odds is a true inspiration." - Harper's Bazaar

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Reader Reviews

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Roberta

Didn't live up to the hype
I was excited to read this book because of all the buzz about it. The first third of the book was gripping and wonderful, but when I finished it I found that I was furious and disappointed. At the end I wondered: Is this really how a 14 year old behaves and talks, even if raised as a survivalist? Did the author want to impress us with his knowledge of guns that we had to have repeated laborious passages of guns being taken apart, cleaned, put back together? Did the book have to have so much violence in it? Did it have to end the way it did? After I finished it, I kept wondering how the book could have been written to make it live up to the hype. Sadly, I don't recommend this book.

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Author Information

Gabriel Tallent

Gabriel Tallent was born in New Mexico and raised on the Mendocino coast by two mothers. He received his B.A. from Willamette University in 2010, and after graduation spent two seasons leading youth trail crews in the backcountry of the Pacific Northwest. Tallent lives in Salt Lake City.

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