Review: My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent

My Absolute Darling CoverSynopsis: At 14, Turtle Alveston knows the use of every gun on her wall; That chaos is coming and only the strong will survive it; That her daddy loves her more than anything else in this world. And he’ll do whatever it takes to keep her with him.

She doesn’t know why she feels so different from the other girls at school; Why the line between love and pain can be so hard to see; Why making a friend may be the bravest and most terrifying thing she has ever done. And what her daddy will do when he finds out …

Sometimes strength is not the same as courage.
Sometimes leaving is not the only way to escape.
Sometimes surviving isn’t enough.

Title: My Absolute Darling
Author: Gabriel Tallent
Publisher: 4th Estate
Pub Date: 29th August 2017
Pages: 420
ISBN: 9780008185213

Rating:

‘You think you’re invincible. You think you won’t ever miss. We need to put the fear on you. You need to surrender yourself to death before you ever begin, and accept your life as a state of grace, and then and only then will you be good enough.’

I can’t seem to put the words together to describe this book, or how it affected me. I am exhausted. I have been pulled in, dragged through a ravine of emotions, and spat out battered and bruised. I adored it. I hated it. I was disgusted with it.

I think that’s the point. The story isn’t a stroll in the park. It is a disturbing depiction of the physical, emotional and sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl. You are forced to experience the abusive world Turtle inhabits, loving and hating her father in equal measure. You must sift through her thoughts, hating the way she talks about herself, and cheering her every victory, no matter how small.

My Absolute Darling is equal parts horrific and beautiful. Tallent’s writing emphasises both the beauty of the natural world around them and the savage brutality Turtle faces. Though there are glimmers of joy, especially when Turtle is with Jacob, they are few and far between.

There will be a lot of debate about this book. Some will absolutely love it, others will hate it. Personally, I loved it. No subject should be shied away from as long as it’s dealt with delicately. And the story celebrates Turtle’s fight for freedom –from her own thoughts and from her father.

Furthermore, I can’t hate a book that has gripped me so completely. I’d plan to read for 30 mins before bed and, suddenly, look up to see hours had passed. I was completely hooked. I was Turtle’s fiercest protector, her biggest cheerleader, a witness to her pain.

So be careful if you choose to read this. It’s not an easy read, it will turn the hardest of stomachs, and it horrify you.

But it will be worth it.

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