Let’s get the basic stuff out of the way: you have either heard of this book, seen its cover or seen Stephen King recommending it on Twitter. There’s no doubt that My Absolute Darling is the debut everyone has heard about. This book has wonderful writing and heart-pounding action in it.
‘If Turtle hadn’t known, she could’ve told that Martin had the gun just from the way he wore his flannel, just from the way he took his seat, but neither Principal Green nor Anna thinks of it; they do not even know such things are possible, and Turtle wonders if there are things that she is blind to that other people can see, and what those things might be.’
Told in the narrative style which isn’t solely focused on our main character but on her experiences we meet Julia ‘Turtle’ Alveston a fourteen year old girl who lives with her manipulative, gun-loving father Martin in a secluded house away from the gaze of other people. Turtle isn’t a regular kid because being raised by Martin makes her something else – something special. She has a passion for guns just like her father and views on women among other things. She can shoot a gun and has the ability to tell the difference between types of guns but when it comes to things like school and socializing she struggles. Her father is a very bad man who abuses her both psychologically and physically. One day she wanders off to the woods to get her mind off things and has an encounter with two boys that will put her in danger and in constant fear of her father. Will she find the courage to escape her father or will she always be his absolute darling?
‘She nods at this, but still she doesn’t get it, knows what it has done to her, the grief of it, the way it ate into her bones, but there had been no fear, and she does not understand-fear of what?-and looks at him and knows, really knows, how little she understands him.’This is an exceptionally well-written debut novel worth every praise. The story itself is very interesting and it immediately grabs your attention which is always a good thing. The characters are well developed especially our main character and her thoughts. The character of Martin Alveston is honestly one of the most heinous characters I’ve read in fiction because of his actions and even though he’s very intelligent there’s not a single good thing about him that can be said. I did have a few issues with the book because I thought that certain events in it could’ve been better developed and I know that the author meant for us to feel empathetic towards Turtle but somehow I didn’t feel that way. Don’t jump to conclusions yet what I mean is that her thought process is twisted (credit goes to her father) and because of that I sometimes found her hard to understand and that’s where my perspective of her as a character changed but towards the end I felt scared for her. My issues aside I still enjoyed reading this book and was amazed as the story progressed. It’s very important to say that the way a child is raised definitely determines whether he/she will live a normal and healthy life and I love how this book makes you want to discuss it with someone and analyze it. If you’ve seen the comparisons to A Little Life then I don’t know what to say because it’s nothing like A Little Life and both books are very different – they only share a theme which is abuse. My Absolute Darling is something completely different and hard to read at times but still very rewarding and thought-provoking.
I would very much like to thank the publisher (4thEstate) for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
My rating: *
*it’s hard to rate this book because it’s between a 4 and 4.5 stars for me.
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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.