Micro review: ‘My Absolute Darling’ is a darkly intriguing read

1 year ago TNN 0

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent is a magnificent exploration of a young girl’s psyche, her life, and the pains and predicaments she encounters. Turtle, a 14 year old girl, lives with her father in a dilapidated house, her mother having mysteriously disappeared when she was young. Turtle’s father is a brutal man — a paranoid, possessive survivalist who has taught her skills he deems necessary for survival, at a very tender age. She can shoot and wield a knife, can gut rabbits the way we would open a packet of chips, and is ready to endure the apocalyptic future her father convinces her is coming.

Tallent’s portrayal of Turtle is vivid and heartbreaking. It is sickeningly fascinating to see the twisted tangents her thoughts take. We can see the manipulation of her thoughts overriding logic as she argues with her father. She was kept isolated till the time she rescues two lost boys in the woods. Her new friends expose her to the world outside her upbringing and it is then that she starts to acknowledge she might hate her father as much as she worships him.

The book is written in the third person from Turtle’s point of view. It’s in no way a tight thriller as, despite the novel story, the detailed descriptions make the book drag. It is hard to pity her as she’s tough, despite the abuse she suffers. However, her self loathing and the visceral descriptions of the physical abuse she endures can be hard to bear. “My Absolute Darling” is a darkly intriguing read, not for the faint-hearted.

How critics view the book:

” My Absolute Darling is a powerful debut novel for Gabriel Tallent and a gripping introduction to a seriously brave little girl,” says Brian Truitt of USA TODAY.

“The word ‘masterpiece’ has been cheapened by too many blurbs, but My Absolute Darling absolutely is one,” writes Stephen King.

“This debut novel grabs you by the throat and hits you with a swift series of shocks from the word go,” writes Alison Flood in The Guardian.

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