My Absolute Darling : A Novel

My Absolute Darling : A Novel

eBook - 2017
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"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.

Baker & Taylor
Enduring an isolated existence after the death of her mother, 14-year-old Turtle roams the rocky shores and tide pools of the California coast and refutes every outside attempt to engage her before an unexpected friendship with a newcomer helps her realize the vulnerabilities of her life with her charismatic father.

Publisher: Riverhead Books,, 2017
ISBN: 9780735211193
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: Baker & Taylor Axis 360
Alternative Title: Axis 360 eBooks


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A friend half heartedly recommended this book, and I felt the same way when I recommended it to another friend; because of the subject matter. It was superb in webbing the storyline, and difficult to read because of the content. I loved the seriousness of the subject, and very much disliked reading about the subject. What a book! I would recommend it to anyone who can read about tragic family circumstances, and enjoys a page turner.

May 30, 2018

Turtle is a 14-year-old girl who lives with her father in an off-the-grid-type situation in Northern California. The father is intent on building her into a strong, tough person who can sustain herself and defeat any foe. He is convinced of the imminent collapse of civilization as we know it. He is also convinced that he loves Turtle dearly, calling her “my absolute darling.” He shows it by having sex with her regularly. She loves him, too, and hates him at the same time. They have trapped each other in a needy, sick, and violent life. She wanders off one day and meets a couple of teen-age boys, and they become friends. Having a more-or-less normal relationship with someone ultimately saves her. She realizes she has to stop her father or he will kill her, and her father realizes the same thing. It’s a sad, sick relationship. Reading it was hard, and I don’t feel enlightened or wiser for having put myself through the emotional turmoil of the book. The book may have been well-written, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Feb 07, 2018

This book bravely tackles an awful subject with thoughtfulness and care. As someone who unfortunately has to work with child porn on a daily basis, I can understand why there are those who would rather pretend it doesn't exist and as such, disregard this book as insulting and even offensive. On the contrary, I find it extremely important. The signs of child abuse as often ignored in a similar by those who have the power to step in and help, which ironically, this book goes into length to show. I was inspired by Turtle's bravery and was moved by her emotions. A truly great novel.

Feb 03, 2018

Appalled immediately by the sexual abuse scenes, which only got worse. Almost stopped reading not even 100 pages in but was encouraged to continue by previous readers that said it was worth it. Many scenes could have been cut. Way too long of a book because of lengthy gun cleaning scenes and other unnecessary, uninteresting descriptions. Enjoyed the scenes with the boys, but so unrealistic for teenagers. The whole end of the book with the final confrontation was confusing and also too "action movie". I found myself skimming many parts of the book simply because it was boring or too horrifying to read too closely. If not for wanting to know how this girl gets out of her hellish life, would have put the book down almost immediately. Kind of sorry I wasted my time reading it and I didn't feel it was worth it in the end, since I ended up skimming whole last chapter just to put it down.

Jan 13, 2018

This was a hard read because of the subject matter but the skill level of Tallent - Tallent's got talent! (sorry had to go there) - is quite evident in this book.

My Absolute Darling is a book peopled with archetypes rather than actual characters. This is plain to see in the dialogue. And the inner dialogue of Turtle. The characters are avatars playing the part of the oppressor, victim, the experienced, the naive, and so on.

Certainly, understand why many will balk at the sexual content that is used as the driving force of the story. This happens whether or not one wants to have to deal with it, either in real life or in a piece of entertainment. Facing ugly things is never pleasant. The power of this book are those tender moments that happen in the worst of circumstances even to the most hardened of characters like Turtle.

Disturbing? Hell yeah! But isn't that what the best of the arts accomplish by making us face the ugly? It makes the beautiful all the more so.

Dec 22, 2017

An unusual and compelling story - based on child physical and sexual abuse. Turtle struggles to live within her environment while simultaneously wanting to escape. Not necessarily for the faint-hearted who think life is sugar-coated.

OPL_ErinD Dec 19, 2017

This was my favorite book I read in 2017. It's about the struggle for one girl's mind, body and soul told against the backdrop of the vividly described northern California wilderness. This is one of the most emotionally challenging books I have ever picked up. It's not for everyone, but I can't recommend it enough.

Dec 17, 2017

It took me a little while to get through this book. I found myself interested in it, but also really turned off by the horrifying subject matter. I ended up feeling really disturbed in my daily life while reading this book. The descriptions of the sexual, mental and emotional abuse of a young girl were overwhelming for me.

As another reader also pointed out, I think some of the dialogue was not very believable. The dialogue between the teenage boys seemed way off from how I remember teenage boys talking. I do, however, feel opposite to one reader who didn't think Turtle could both love and hate her dad. I think systematic emotional and mental abuse of a child can really play a lot of tricks on their mind and leave them confused in so many ways. I did find that aspect believable.

I am glad I read the book as I never read these types of books. I would not recommend this book for anyone who is easily disturbed by "bad" things.

Dec 12, 2017

Absolutely loathsome, and not interestingly so.
Despite wordy descriptions of the countryside, TEDIOUS details on guns & ammo & cleaning thereof--not to mention jarringly specific brand and author name-droppings (first Turtle "is wearing Levi's [sic] over black Icebreaker wool tights" and then she's "pulling Carhartts over her Smartwool long underwear"; Middlemarch, Marcus Aurelius, Proust and all sorts of high-end books are mentioned) the descriptions were confusing and monotonous, and there was was remarkably little sense of place or palpable difference in the characters. The author was showing off his knowledge of plant vocabulary and literature (and, oh yes, guns, always with the guns!) and sounding 'poetic', but there was not enough interiority of character or believable psychology--or even exterior description--for me to distinguish between the 2 boys, or the 'nice' hippie-stereotype teachers/mothers.
It's not that I don't believe that backwoods monsters like the father exist, or that his daughter could be profoundly abused and also love him, but somehow I didn't buy the dialogue, neither the ostensibly 'humorous' banter between the boys, nor Turtle's internal monologues of self-loathing.
Beyond a basic need for narrative closure (wanting to see if she got out of it alive) I stopped caring, and despite being a person who loves 1) words 2) learning about areas beyond my scope through a narrative story 3) medical/surgical descriptions, I found the endless guns and dank plant life unutterably wearisome (I started skimming over these early on) and the surgery/medical descriptions callous, revolting and monotonous at the same time.
The author perhaps was attempting to humanize his anti-hero (or promote his own libertarian ethos, or add interest in the story?) by inserting stuff about climate change, hippy pot-growers, capitalist off-the-grid techies, which all came off as both too specific and too generic to be anything other than banal, patronizing stereotypes.
When it all ended it up in a shoot-em-up teen-prom-party with a super-hero 'survivor' girl saving the day (lots of guns, lots of shooting, but boring to read because it was actually very unclear who was where, who was doing what; this was also true of the foul sex scenes, which were sadistically descriptive yet oddly unclear, though NOT because the author was drawing a veil), I guess that was not that surprising. Or that cathartic.
And don't get me started on the annoying use of the present tense. It seems to be a fashion these days, to evoke "immediacy" or some crap like that.

Dec 12, 2017

"Riveting", un-put-downable. The subject matter may not be pretty but the characterizations are unforgettable, the writing luminous. I gave it 4 1/2 stars. It would have and should have been 5 but I was disappointed in the ending. Seemed to me to be an ending to a completely different book. Fantastic read nonetheless.

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Dec 04, 2017

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