I did not want to like this book. I read the first fifty pages and found myself so deeply and uncomfortably moved that I put it down and swore I could not finish it. Turtle Alveston—young girl, wanderer, viciously brave survivor—has a terrible secret, one that I worried the author would not be able to lend the kind of respect it deserves. But after hearing other booksellers and friends talk about the book with a whole lot of love, I decided to give it another chance. I was not disappointed. Gabriel Tallent, in writing so lush and vividly moving, has penned an empathetic and miraculous kind of ode to Turtle and to the rugged, beautiful, dangerous place she has made her own. My Absolute Darling is all at once disturbing, heartening, and unbelievably sad. But it is also--without reservations and with a great deal of beauty--worth it. Turtle’s story will stick with me forever.
— From Claire
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
INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NBCC JOHN LEONARD PRIZE FINALIST
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES'S MOST NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2017
ONE OF THE WASHINGTON POST'S MOST NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2017
ONE OF NPR'S 'GREAT READS' OF 2017
A USA TODAY BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
AN AMAZON.COM BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
A BUSINESS INSIDER BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
"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.