My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

This book comes with multiple warnings. The first is that it deals with very distressing themes and the second is that you won’t be able to put it down.

My Absolute Darling is a debut novel from American author Gabriel Tallent.  It is a best seller, page turner and probably available at airports around the world. My husband bought it for me as a gift and I rolled my eyes thinking “how long do we have to be married before he knows my taste in books?”

By the end of the first chapter, I was keeping him awake talking about it.  He says he regrets buying the book on multiple grounds and won’t repeat the mistake.

My Absolute Darling tells the story about a 14 year old girl, Turtle and her abusive father, Martin. They are living alone in a broken down bush cabin and he has taken horrifying control of her emotionally, physically and sexually.  There are guns, scorpions and empty beer bottles everywhere.

I warned you. . A breezy romantic comedy it aint.

I feel like there should be a recognised genre for this kind of “as bad as it can get” book that simultaneously shocks and captivates. In true, somewhat formulaic style, the story takes shape around a courageous character who somehow plans and fights her way out of the horror. Turtle is one of those characters and the best part of this book by far.

Turtle is twisted, damaged, lost and confused, but also utterly indefatigable and unbeatable in her visceral strength and skill. She is a pocked sized heroine who could put Thai navy SEALS to the test.

Another great part of the book is the friendship Turtle develops with two high school boys. Their dialogue brings an unexpected burst of humour and perspective and a clever dimension to an otherwise grimfest of a story.

My husband still has no idea of my style of book, but full points for finding me a page turner I won’t forget for a while.  Now back to my period novels.