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My Absolute Darling (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Gabriel Tallent means business. His debut novel comes rife with trigger warnings, but if you can handle the story of a terrible monster of a father and his imprisoned daughter, then, oh boy is this good. Imagine a blend of Lolita and Deliverance, in which Lolita is trained to be a fearless killer and survivalist. And Turtle, the Stockholm Syndrome-inflicted protagonist, really wants the cute rich boy to ask her to the homecoming dance, but she’s rightly worried that her daddy might gut him like a fish. An epic badass shootout near the end will satisfy your animal craving for vengeance. Tallente is a wordsmith in full command from the macro level of the story down to micro level of each beautifully crafted sentence. M.A.D. deserves award season consideration. It is my pick for best Indie book of the year.

— Jason

My Absolute Darling is a masterpiece. With language as clean as it is expressive, it’s a perfect combination of propulsive storytelling and languid observation, a hero’s journey in the form of Turtle Alveston, a meticulous near-feral girl who is difficult to care for but easy to love, who is at home in the expansiveness of the Northern California coastline but lost to the violence in her own home, imprisoned by the hands of her beloved father. Once awakened by her first crush, Turtle must continue along the dangerous path towards self-awareness and ultimately escape, accompanied by the deliciously smart repartee of her new friends and the safety of self-reliance within the deep backwoods. Gorgeous in its depiction of nature, human and otherwise, unafraid to tell the truth, even in its complexity, this novel both breaks your heart and patches it with hope. One cannot help but read with a new way of seeing, an unforgettable treasure within this incredible book.

— Melinda

My Absolute Darling is truly an unforgettable book, both in the characters and the element of the natural world, which is so stunning and super alive, it's one of my favorite components. Sometimes Turtle's experiences were so harrowing I was like ENOUGH ALREADY but overall the book is just a stunner in all the ways that matter. Lots of pages marked up in my copy of it for the insight and the beauty. I nominated it for the Indie Next List for September and am excited about our event.

— Chorel

September 2017 Indie Next List

“I believe in great American novels, but not the Great American Novel. This is a Great American Novel: exquisitely lush language of the natural world; startlingly vivid characters; a global understanding of social context, in a particular place; and, in this case, steel-wire narrative tension stringing through the beautiful prose like piano wire. It is the book this year that I feel every American should read, because of its greatness and also because of its deep wrestling with issues of class, complacency, climate change, culture, and especially gender.”
— John Evans (M), DIESEL, A Bookstore, Oakland, CA



"Impossible to put down." --NPR

"A novel that readers will gulp down, gasping." --The Washington Post

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

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. What follows is a harrowing story of bravery and redemption. With Turtle's escalating acts of physical and emotional courage, the reader watches, heart in throat, as this teenage girl 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.

About the Author

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.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9780735211179
ISBN-10: 0735211175
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: August 29th, 2017
Pages: 432
Language: English


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